Amaseffer; reflection of a trilogy project which enlighten the exodus biblical story. Formed by Erez Yohanan (drums), the unique sound of the trilogy is a magnificent mixture of middle eastern spices with an epic , cinematic scope polished with huge philharmonic orchestrations, all wrapped in drums and guitars.
Rargoutia: AMASEFFER has existed since 2006, why choosing exactly this name? Is it for some specific reason?
Yuval : As a matter of fact, the concept of Amaseffer is quite old; Erez came up with the idea very long time ago. I first met Erez in the beginning of summer '04 and we started working on the concept; we began working on songs and wrote our ideas.
Hanan joined the group a year later, forming the current lineup for Amaseffer.
We chose the name Amaseffer because we wanted a name to represent our musical vision correctly. Am – HaSeffer (as it pronounced in Hebrew) was the name chosen for the children-of-Israel in the bible, meaning People of the book.
In our musical concept we are retelling the stories of the bible, so this ancient biblical name felt right.
Rargoutia: a trilogy project!!! Though I'm not quite certain that metalheads know you that much, would you make a simple "member introduction"?
Yuval : I'm quite sure you're right…
Erez Yohanan is the main song writer, drummer, percussionist and narrator. But for me, above all that he is a mentor and a spiritual father.
Hanan Avramovich: song writer and guitars. An inspiration, a living muse.
Yuval Kramer: song writer and guitars.
Rargoutia: tell us more about the music you play; is it a simple mixture of oriental melody?
Hanan : We all grew up here in Israel and growing up in Israel means that you're exposed to a color full mixture of cultures.
Our music is a reflection of that. It's not only a mixture of Oriental music but of Western and Mediterranean as well.
Rargoutia: at first, was it hard for you, to look for AMASEFFER's vocalist?
Hanan : Not really. We knew what we were looking for and that this concept deserves the best. So we went for it.
Rargoutia: you have mentioned that Mats Leven was the perfect man to perform in your band as a vocalist. How was that? Did he help the band in some specific level?
Yuval : When we started looking for a vocalist for the band, we actually looked for a singer/actor. We wanted a vocalist who would be as dramatic as the music, someone versatile who can deliver all kinds of moods and feelings to the listener and get the listener involved in the spirit of the song. When we heard his works, we felt really good about him.
We contacted him, and he showed interest, so we sent him the audition package, a part of a song with the lyrics to it so he will record his musical ideas on it. When we got his files back it was very clear to us that he is the guy. He is such a great person and it was a great pleasure working with him.
When we started working with Mats, we sent him a song, with the lyrics and a vocal guide to it. It was beautiful hearing his ideas and his interpretations to our ideas of melodies and lyrics. Sometimes he used our guides, sometimes he changed them slightly and sometimes did something completely different…and the outcome was great!
Rargoutia: now that you have mastered your first CD, "slaves for life", successfully , tell us more about it.( number of tracks, type, instruments, etc)
Hanan: For the main part the instruments are the guitars, drums and bass mixed with orchestration and oriental instruments, such as flutes and percussion. Because each song depicts a different part of the story, each song has its own character and type.
Rargoutia: the single "slaves for life"' is full of oriental influences and especially Egyptians touch. how would you explain this?
Yuval : you're right. This is the outcome of a few variables. First, as we all know, the story takes place in Egypt, so the musical atmosphere should go along with the story, once you'll listen to the full CD you'll know where the story happens just by listening and you'll be able to hear whether it is in Egypt, or some place else without reading the lyrics.
Second, as Hanan mentioned before, we were born in Israel and Israel has a huge amount of different musical genres. From European classical music, Arabic music (Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Turkish, etc.), very emotional ethnic music (Russian, Ethiopian, African, Greek and Middle-eastern), a very developed jazz scene, very popular electronic music artists, all kinds of rock and of course Metal.
So our musical influences are from a variety of genres and the ethnic orientation is very natural for us.
Rargoutia: as a theme for your lyrics, am I right when I say that they are only related to the concept of the exodus biblical story? Would you mention the reason in either case?
Yuval : Amaseffer is a band, like all bands, we are not a one-time project. This trilogy of albums is dealing with the Exodus story. The biblical orientation is a big part of Amaseffer and it will remain like this forever. After this trilogy will be done – Amaseffer will continue to its next musical effort, a different scene and a different biblical story.
The story of the Exodus was chosen to be the first Amaseffer musical piece because this is one of the biggest and well-known stories in the bible; and it was a great challenge for us to take a story that was done so many times in theaters and in music – and doing it differently and trying to avoid all the big Clichés.
This is a true marvelous story and I think everyone can learn a lot from it, not only in a religious way; this is true for the entire bible. A great wisdom lies within.
Rargoutia: what about oriental vocals, done by Kobi Farhi, isn't it?
Hanan : Kobi is an amazing singer and a pure soul, he sings all through the album.
Rargoutia: what are exactly your principal influences?
Hanan : Like I said before, living here in Israel exposes you to a wide variety of music styles and genres. Even if you've been listening to western music all your life the oriental is embedded in you just by living here. You could say we love any sort of music that can touch our soul. From Metal and Rock to Mozart and Stravinsky, to cinematic music like Hans Zimmer and John Williams, Ethnic music. All those reflect in our music.
Rargoutia: your "holy voyage" to Germany for recording, how was it?
Yuval : a true holy experience!
There was a special vibe in the air, I felt, and still do, that we are doing something important.
We met great people, true professionals and it was an empowering experience.
Everything went well, the outcome is beyond excellent.
Rargoutia: let us know more about your recording session. Was it the first one?
Hanan : For me, yes it was the first real session. We had a great time at the studio, and working with Markus Teske was a big Pleasure, a true artist.
Rargoutia: for the moment, you are not dealing with any record label. But do you tempt to?
Yuval : We wanted to make this album as we saw it in our vision, without the outer interference and pressure that a record label might bring to the process. Now, that the CD is done, we're looking for the best record company that will help us get the CD out. We sent it to a few labels and we're gathering the information to get the best deal out of it.
Rargoutia: like you said, the album is finally done! Are you satisfied with the final result?
Yuval: We couldn't be happier with the result. Years of hard work finally came to a finish with the unbelievable outcome of this album. Everything that we do, and so on with this case, is done to the point where we're happy with it and can stand proudly behind it. We wouldn't compromise on anything, so it took us a lot of time and money – but we now have the final CD in our hands and we are really proud of it.
Rargoutia: by the end of 2007, are there any releases that you liked or disliked during this year?
Hanan: To tell the truth, unfortunately, with all our intensive work on the production this year I really haven't had the time to listen to anything new. I hope to get around to it some time soon.
Rargoutia: is there any future project for AMASEFFER?
Hanan : At the moment we are working on a soundtrack for a movie here in Israel. Other than that, like we said, this album is but the first of three.
Rargoutia: let's talk about the Palestinian case, what do you really think?
Yuval: This is a very complex situation that we have here. I believe, and like me there are others in both sides, that this situation is solvable without violence.
When people are dying, there is no right or wrong. Of course both sides should make a lot of hard concessions – but we all need to see the big picture.
There is a wonderful phrase in the bible, which I try to live by, at the Book of Psalms, chapter 34, 13-14:
"… Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it…"
Rargoutia: can we see you in Tunisia 's scene, one day?
Hanan: I very hope so, it would be a big pleasure!
Rargoutia: well, the honor will be yours to engrave for us some "holy words", by the end of this interview! Thank you.
Yuval : It doesn't matter what you do, what matters is HOW you do it.
Be proud of what you do, stand behind your words and acts, trust yourself, and do what you believe is right. Don't bear a grudge; don't waste your energy on anger and hate. Send out good energy – and that's what you'll get in return.
Thank You! Hope to see you someday!
KEEP IT HOLY