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Vaadat Charigim: Music Is Universal

Vaadat Charigim photo by Goni Riskin
28 February 2016

Photo by Goni Riskin

Vaadat Charigim (roughly translated from Hebrew to mean “Exceptions Committee”) is a post-punk/shoegaze trio from Tel Aviv that exemplifies the notion of music being universal. Touring the U.S. this spring in support of 2015’s sophomore album Sinking As A Stone (Burger Records), the band views diversity as an asset by singing entirely in Hebrew.

Speaking with Yuval Haring, the band’s approach to songwriting has always been from the inside out. “Music is universal but people are not. Smart phones and the Internet want you to believe we are a global village. This is somewhat true in the sense of networking, but in a more basic sense we are very different; products of our environments. I like it that way, diversified. I think singing in whatever language you feel like is better than conforming to anglo-saxon molds of indie rock whether they come from the UK, US or nowadays, Australia. Not only language-wise, I think breaking molds in every sense is important. All our records are about the Israeli experience because that is what we know. That is the prism through which we consume American music so we remain within that and explore it.”

Formed in 2012 with Haring (guitar/vocals), Dan Bloch (bass) and Yuval Guttmann (drums), the band began rehearsals in the bomb shelter of a Tel Aviv elementary school. Being geographically situated in one of the most volatile regions on the planet, the band is well-aware of the world around them and their place in it. “We are ruled by a right wing, post-capitalist, pseudo-religious, self-interested government. Everything else unravels from that. So not much optimism. I think of going back to Europe daily but then I take a short trip to the countryside here and I fall in love with my childhood all over again. I can’t leave, but I want to. This is also a big thing in our music. I love this place but I hate what it has become.”

This contradiction permeates their music. Transitioning from war-torn turbulence to ethereal beauty with tremendous streaks of unrest and isolation, Vaadat Charigim garners obvious comparisons to Ride and Slowdive but also craft melodies reminiscent of The Cure, Galaxie 500 and The Go-Betweens. About the song-writing process, Yuval reveals, “Initially, I write most of the songs as sketches and then bring them in to the studio where we will work on them together. What I bring at first are mostly hook and harmony-based; I sometimes don’t even have finished lyrics but rather a general idea of what the songs are about. When I play them to Dan and Yuval they usually ask questions and take certain things apart which gives the ideas further depth. My personal mood is almost always on the nostalgic side. I have a basic yearning inside of me for things that are not there. Also many of the songs are about anxiety of death or other stresses. I feel these things very strongly most of the time and when we process songs together in the studio, we try and keep those original emotions as distinct as we can.”

Not surprising considering Israel’s place in the world and its struggling underground. When pressed further Haring explains, “Yeah sure, demographics and history (play roles). Small country, small scene. Few people to support it and not much money for the arts. There is no real “music business”, just a lot of fumbling in the dark with projects ending abruptly and others restarting in seemingly random way.” He continues, “It’s a big, vibrant scene for such a small city in Tel Aviv but it is not a consistent one. There is a growing need for a local (music) industry and more and more there is constructive work being done within the scene but it is still very hectic; relatively poor and unsupported. Rock in general is a niche within a niche in Israel.”

Despite the scene’s disorder, there is a tremendous sense of pride in its struggle. “I listen to a lot of classical music but when I am in the US or on tour elsewhere, I make it my goal to play as much Israeli music to other people as I can for the sake of one day building a local scene that has genealogy, even if it is artificial at first.” For now, Haring remains pragmatic in regards to recognition, “I love recording music and writing songs. I hope we can keep doing that for a long time. Everything else, like reception and following, is too stressful to think about and we will enjoy those things if and when they arrive. Right now, all I care about is another album, digging deep, and reaching something new.”

Vaadat Charigim on Facebook

Catch them on tour this spring:
March 10 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall (Levitation Chicago)
March 11 – Indianapolis, IN – Joyful Noise Recordings (w/ Elephant Stone)
March 15 – Austin, TX – Barracuda Backyard (SXSW)
March 17 – Austin, TX – Hotel Vegas Patio (SXSW)
March 19 – Austin, TX – Volstead Lounge (SXSW)
March 20 – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger (Burger Records Hangover Fest)
March 22 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge (w/ Methyl Ethel)
March 23 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court (w/ Methyl Ethel)
March 26 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall (w/ Yuck)
March 27 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo (w/ Sad Lovers & Giants)
March 30 – Brooklyn, NY – Palisades (w/ Stove)