... presented her new material which she has released under the artist name Pilpel. AVIVA-Berlin spoke with her about the decision to choose a new name, about her eventful biography, living in Denmark, the motives of her songs and her other projects besides Pilpel.
AVIVA-Berlin: Where did you get the inspiration from to use the artist name Pilpel?
Dalia Faitelson: Pilpel means pepper. It has extremes in it: There is a sweeter and a sharper type. So for me it means giving a colour to the music, a strong colour. The picture I had in mind was when one puts pepper into food to spice it up.
AVIVA-Berlin: Before you published some CDs under your real name. So why did you decide to take on another name?
Dalia Faitelson: I have looked for a catchy name and I thought that people might like its sound even if they don´t understand Hebrew. Before I had a band which was called Common Ground.
AVIVA-Berlin: Could you describe the instrumental setting of your music?
Dalia Faitelson: There´s an accordion played by Lelo Nika, who is originally from Serbia and brings in a Balkan sound. Then there´s Jarrod Cagwin as percussionist. He has travelled a lot all over the world and plays a special drum which is called a frame drum and comes from the Middle East, used a lot in Turkey and in Iran. So he adds the Eastern side to our music. Thommy Andersson from the North of Sweden plays the contrabass. He brings in the sound of the forest. He has a totally different sound with a jazzy background. But as a group we´re going away from jazz and are more multi-styled.
I come from a jazzy background too and I´m trying to find my own style within the music. Pilpel is the first time I do songs in Hebrew.
AVIVA-Berlin: Was the change from English to Hebrew vocals very difficult?
Dalia Faitelson: I did it very slowly. At the concerts I started to do an extra number in Hebrew at the end and the people reacted nicely to it. So I said to myself: ´Okay, I do a step more´. It was very important for me that I tried it in public first. English was a good way to communicate with people. Hebrew is a very expressive language and it´s a gift to perform my songs in it but with the decision I had to regard that the public won´t be able to understand it. So I try to explain the pictures in it in the booklets and during my concerts.
AVIVA-Berlin: Are there some Israeli people living in Denmark who might come to your concerts and enjoy the Hebrew language?
Dalia Faitelson: Oh, there are some Israeli people living in Denmark but it´s not a big community.
AVIVA-Berlin: What inspiration do you need for songwriting?
Dalia Faitelson: Usually I write best when I´m down. When I´m sad I get very creative. A good day can be a good inspiration too but the lyrics come easier when you´re in pain.
I love composing - it´s just the best thing to do. I try to do different angles. I take the drum or the guitar or I start without anything. It depends from the rhythm, from the harmony and my emotions at that moment.
AVIVA-Berlin: There is a very melancholic touch on many of the songs of your first album as Pilpel. How would you describe that melancholy and would you say there is a strong relation between melancholy and art in general?
Dalia Faitelson: When one does music, also instrumental music, there is always a deeper and a lighter side. And in between there are much more emotional possibilities. I find it more enriching to use a large variety of scales musically. I believe you find your lyrics when you really have something on your heart, something very personal and you feel the need to express it. For example many people write about love and regard that as important. I avoid writing about love because everybody does it. So on my first CD as Pilpel you won´t find a love song because there are so many love songs already. My songs are all stories. There is a lot of hope in them but there can also be pain. Even if the songs might be heavy in their idea there is always an angle which gives the positiveness and the sunshine a space.
My first album was dedicated to my mother. She was dying slowly. It took more than a year. She was in a coma and in terrible shape. I sat beside her and that´s where almost all the lyrics came from. I was waiting that she would wake up and I was sitting there for long times. During these times I wrote. That is why the songs contain a lot of painful thoughts and personal experiences.
AVIVA-Berlin: Your forthcoming album starts more vividly. Has that been influenced by changes in your own life too?
Dalia Faitelson: Oh yes, the new one is more powerful. That also interrelates with the way it´s recorded.
And I got divorced three years ago which caused big changes in my life. Of course that had influences on my music. After I had made the decision to get divorced I suddenly asked many big questions about life, what I´m doing, who´s here with me. Something was set free inside me, like a stone which was stuck there and just flew up at that point.
Seen from the distance I would say I gained a lot from going through these changes, like loosing my mother, getting divorced or even living in Denmark, which is not my own country. I was living there for many years and suddenly I didn´t have a family there anymore. So it´s really about the honesty about who you are and what you do.
AVIVA-Berlin: You are playing this evening at a Jazzkomm event with five other Danish jazz and worldmusic bands. How do you feel about it and do you know the other bands?
Dalia Faitelson: It will be a very special evening. I know most of the other bands very well. I work together with some of them. It´s a very small country. Because of that it´s just natural that we know each other very well as musicians. I regard them as very good bands and performers.
AVIVA-Berlin: Is there a lot of exchange in the Danish music scene?
Dalia Faitelson: It´s a little scene. The jazz scene is quite established. There are a lot of good jazz musicians. World music came later. So it´s still building up, there are not so many places to play. You have to engage yourself a lot to be able to play and be heard with your music. Some of the bands who are playing tonight have focused on abroad and touring a lot, which means they´re mostly bands that already started an international career.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you live in Kopenhagen?
Dalia Faitelson: Yes, I do. I would love to live in Berlin but I live in Kopenhagen.
AVIVA-Berlin: So why don´t you move to Berlin?
Dalia Faitelson: Well, I have children in Denmark.
I have a lot of friends in Berlin and I come here very often. Then they take me all over the place and I love to follow them. The music and art scene in Berlin is a great inspiration for me. Kopenhagen is much smaller but it´s a very nice and cosy city.
The underground is not so big, there are not so many places to experiment. And the people there are not so interested to see experimental stuff.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you travel often to Israel?
AVIVA-Berlin: Unfortunately my father and my mother died and so the base disappeared. But some friends, my sisters and family are living in Israel. I do travel there now even more then I did before.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you exchange often with other Israeli musicians?
AVIVA-Berlin: No. It is very difficult to come from outside to Israel and get involved in the music scene. Therefore I would have to investigate in another way. The scene is very small but there´re great musicians. So I hope to work in the future in that way, maybe.
But I´m already involved in a big project called "The Magic Circle", musically inspired by Gregorian chants. I work together with some musicians to build these chants up with other folk music. They have beautiful melodies. I put Hebrew lyrics on them instead of the originally religious texts. Now they´re with Hebrew lyrics about the power of nature, like sun, moon, wind and fire. For the vocals I invited six singers who are Danish, Norwegian and Israeli. Then I arranged these recordings together with Palestinian musicians in Israel according to the traditional sounds there. We were 11 people on stage. I´m very interested to develop that further in Israel. It´s a very special project of mine and we´re going to bring it to some festivals down there. The album itself is finished now and will be sold at Womex, a big worldmusic market in Kopenhagen, taking place in October 2010.
AVIVA-Berlin: You were born in Israel, then you´ve studied in America. What got you to Denmark?
AVIVA-Berlin: I´ve studied music in a very famous music school in the US, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Students from all over the world matriculated there. It´s probably the best-known school for music studies. That´s why I have friends in many countries - in Germany, in Denmark, everywhere. And I met my Danish husband there, who is also a musician.
But I was born in the desert in Israel. And ended up in the North of Europe (laughs).
AVIVA-Berlin: Did you find it difficult to change your place of living so often? How long did it take until you felt at home?
AVIVA-Berlin: I always wanted to live in Europe more then in the United States since I was a child. But coming and living in the States was in the beginning as difficult as coming and living in Denmark. Because they´re different cultures. It takes a lot of power, understanding, openness to make new friends and get to know the scene. If you come with no contact at all, you have to start from nothing. So it took me some years to build up my surrounding, to find good friends and a lifestyle. Danish people are very polite but it takes a long time to get in.
AVIVA-Berlin: How long have you lived in Denmark?
AVIVA-Berlin: Eighteen years.
AVIVA-Berlin: What are your plans for the future?
AVIVA-Berlin: I´m doing another big project which needs a lot of my power. I´m inviting some top musicians of the world music and jazz scene from New York to come to Kopenhagen and work together with Danish musicians. During one week they´ll play together in a lot of showcases. So I have to fly to New York and organise a lot over there. When I´m finished with that project I´ll be going to Serbia together with Lelo and Thommy from my Pilpel band. We´ll record there together with the Radio String Orchestra. And I have also started to work as a DJane in Denmark nowadays.
Besides that I have two bands playing children shows, Musen Og Solen and Gadehjoernet.
AVIVA-Berlin: Where do you get the energy from to do so many projects?
AVIVA-Berlin: I have an amazing high energy. I have this wheel which is turning on and on. I have many ideas. Besides that, it´s important for me to have two or three things going on at one time because it became very difficult to make a living out of music. So I have to keep on many projects. Well, maybe I could teach only but I don´t feel like teaching.
AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much for the interview. All the best for you and your projects in the future!
Related articles at AVIVA-Berlin:
Pilpel - Burning Sensation - Pilpel