Where to Discover Emerging Acts, Drink and Party at Israel's Tune In Tel Aviv Conference

Ben Palhov
Tel Aviv performance space and bar Kuli Alma (Mikveh Israel St. 10) offers free entry year-round.

Israel’s compact but thriving music scene takes center stage Nov. 11-15 at the Tune In Tel Aviv conference.

Israel’s compact but thriving music scene is the focus of the annual Tune In Tel Aviv conference, which takes place in the ­beachside city from Nov. 11 to 15. Organized by Tel Aviv-based Oleh Records, Tune In brings together Israeli musicians and music-industry executives from around the world for a series of panel discussions (among the topics: “Boycott This, Amplify That: How ‘Cause Music’ Is Making a Difference” and “The Life and Death of A&R”; speakers include the ­founders of Warped Tour and Sire Records, Kevin Lyman and Seymour Stein, respectively) along with 80 showcases at nine venues.

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“Our mission is clear -- we want to get the Israeli music scene onto the radar of the entire world,” says Jeremy Hulsh, 37, executive ­producer of the confab. “Think of the fantastic tech that has come from Israel. There’s no reason the music scene can’t be as disruptive.”

Indeed, while the nation of 8 million deserves credit for success in the dance world -- the trance subgenre has roots in the holy land -- recent years have seen Israeli beats and melodies make their way into pop hits as well (Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty,” notably). As Tel Aviv readies its decks for an international contingent, Billboard looks at Israel’s buzzing exports and hotspots at home. 

WHERE TO DRINK: OZEN BAR

Third Ear Records, a popular record-store chain in the ’80s and ’90s, opened the Ozen bar and cafe annex, which puts on some 60 live shows every month, including parties, lectures and stand-up comedy. (King George St. 48)

WHERE TO PARTY: BASCULA, TAHAT AND KULI ALMA

Bascula (HaRakevet 72), Tel Aviv’s first independent performing arts center, opened in July and features live music, dance and acrobatics in its warehouselike structure -- an apt fit for the industrial area it calls home. Four kilometers north in the more residential Ibn Gvirol neighborhood, crowds flock to spots like Tahat (Ibn Gvirol 106), which means “ass” in Hebrew, for a nightly taste of local talent. If English speakers are more your speed, head to Kuli Alma (Mikveh Israel St 10) where an international crowd gathers nightly to catch DJ sets, art shows and emerging bands.

TUNE IN: THE HOLY LAND'S TOP TALENT
Artists of all ethnic persuasions are building followings in Israel

GARDEN CITY MOVEMENT
Intricate grooves highlight the electro indie-pop band, which formed in Tel Aviv in 2013. Seeking a serene soundtrack to your next commercial or synch? Look no further than GCM’s “Move On.”

A-WA
Traditional Arabic folk songs are the marks of A-Wa (pronounced “Ay Wah,” Arabic for “yes”), a hypnotic Israeli sister act. Think M.I.A.’s hip-hop bathed in reggae from the Negev desert.

NOGA EREZ
A one-woman band, Noga Erez sings, plays keys and percussion, looping and layering tracks in a form that nods to FKA Twigs and Bjork. “Building an audience is like expanding your family,” she says.

BALKAN BEAT BOX
The band’s mashup of Mediterranean styles has helped make global hits (Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” used BBB’s saxophone riff as its hook; Diplo sampled its horns in Mac Miller’s “Goosebumpz”), but Tel Aviv still claims the group’s biggest fans. “The homeyness of the crowd is what makes the city great to play in,” says BBB’s Tomer Yosef, “no matter what language we sing in.”

LOLA MARSH
Recently signed to Universal France, Lola Marsh brings forth a sweet folk pastiche, balancing singer Yael Shoshana Cohen’s dreamy, seductive warble.

LABEL TO WATCH: ANOVA MUSIC
Recognizing a spiritual kinship to European music, boutique label and music-management company Anova Music (founded in 2006) has become a hub for Israel’s top indie acts. On its roster: Rockfour and Vaadat Charigim, bands whose showcases at conferences like South by Southwest helped drive their popularity stateside. The A&R tastes of Anova founders Shuki Goldwasser and Anat Damon, along with CEO Joshua Perry, lean to sonic nostalgia in a way that’s curiously current.

This article first appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of Billboard.


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