Front Page Feature: Apifera

Apifera – Photo by Ben Kirschenbaum

Apifera are just on our horizon. Figures that seem a blur now, but will be as clear as daylight in the coming months. It is not everyday that a psychedelic jazz band comes into existence, and yet we are in the mere transition of the latest joining us. Yuval Havkin (Rejoicer), Nitai Hershkovits, Amir Bresler and Yonatan Albalak are the latest individuals to be piercing through the ever growing contemporary jazz scene. They find themselves based on the west coast paradise of music, Stones Throw; a label which has always specialised in putting forward the freshest fruits in the musical world, and Apifera is the epitome of this.

Nearly a month ago when Apifera were first announced with their upcoming debut album, Overstand, their artistic principles were described as “a new jazz group whose organic-sounding structures, harmonies and arrangements are intended to reflect the rich variety and equilibrium of the natural world.” When listening and spectating the band in action, it is clear to hear and visualise the landscape they resonate within. As musicians, their music is defined by their perceived soundscape produced as a collective and then the interaction with their own instruments. They each paint and evoke atmospheric qualities that contribute towards their beautiful landscapes. The band leads the listener through their world.

To find out more about this process and the band, we were able to speak to them and begin to understand everything we can expect to discover from Apifera in the upcoming months.

What is your story? How did you all meet? How did you end up making music together?

Nitai, Bresi (Amir) and Albi (Albalak) have been playing together for many years in the israeli jazz scene. Around 2014 Yuvi (Rejoicer) started combining his electronic sound with the jazzers, making albums under the label Time grove. About 3 years later there was a nice collection of records made, and the idea of a supergroup of all those musicians came to the table. That group recorded an album and played one show and then boiled down to this quartet.  We felt very comfortable composing together and wanted to explore that sound. 

How did the upcoming album, Overstand, come into fruition?

After writing a few tracks for the Time grove ensemble we got in the studio with no materials whatsoever and started throwing sounds into the air. We kept molding those sounds until they became tunes, recording each one right after it’s composed and after 3 days we had the album in a rough-mix state. after that it’s a day or two of mixing and we’re ready. The cool thing about it was that Stones Throw expressed interest in an early stage, so we had everything planned with them. 

Do you associate the songs off Overstand with real places? If so, what are these places?

Mostly places in our mind… sometimes we picture a feeling or a place the music could describe, Lake VU for example is a soundtrack for an afternoon chill around a water source, like, let’s say… a lake. 

In the writeup on Stones Throw’s website, Nitai says that you “paid a lot of attention to the textures, discussing timbres and temperatures in detail throughout the recording process.” What is the recording process when performed with such subtlety?

We are all very sensitive to tibre, and it’s important for us to define the hue of each instrument in a track even before recording. using synths, guitar pedals, drums, percussion and microphone placing we can go very deep in defining each tune’s temperature. When composing we are all with headphones, it gives us plenty of details to work with, and we can create in an augmented reality, and craft the dimensions (near-far, wide-narrow, hot-cold, sharp-dull) of each element. 

Also in this writeup, you highlight some of the influences on your sound including the folk music of your home country Israel, for those who may not have heard Israeli folk music, which albums would you recommend to get someone started?

  • Hakeves 16 (The 16th lamb) – An epic children’s album, sung by Israel’s top singers and composed by Yoni Rechter, one of the most important figures in Israeli music.
  • Matti Caspi – Probably the most influential composer who has left a mark on us all. 
  • Zohar Argov – Known as the king of mediterranian music, this guy was a legend in his short life and long after. 
  • Sasha Argov (unrelated to Zohar) – One of the earliest israeli composers, who has written hundreds of beautiful songs, working very modestly his entire life in the post office. 

The cover of Overstand is a really lovely painting, who created the image? 

The cover was painted by the amazing Hillel Eflal, who happens to be Albalak’s Cousin. We spoke to him a lot about what we wanted the cover to express, and he totally got it. He will also paint the cover for our next album.  

The album is heavily inspired by the natural world, where are your favourite places to feel closer to nature?

As long as you can hear some silence and breath fresh air – that’s good for us. We all grew up in cities, realizing humanity is seriously out of balance with nature, so even though we’re heavily plugged into the matrix we strive to express nature in our music as much as we can. Israel has amazing nature. One of our favorite places to be is the pool outside the studio where we record.

To gain an insight into the unconscious collation of your sound, which album do each of you wish you could have played on or been a part in the making of?

Along with Jamael Dean and Kiefer (to name two), how does it feel to be a part of the group pushing the jazz sound on Stones Throw?

It feels absolutely great to be in such good company! There’s a movement going on all over the world of Post-Jazz mixed with various influences, mainly electronic but every artist brings their flavour.We think there’s so many places where jazz can branch out, and we are ready to head out into the unknown.

As well as the album, what else can we expect to see from Apifera in the coming months?

A few live sessions, filmed in some cool places. and hopefully a release date for the second album, that believe it or not has already been mastered:)

Bonus question: What is the sound at the end of Lake VU?

After Albalak’s effects wash out you can barely hear the sound of Bresi burping. It happened during the take and we decided to keep it. That’s art baby.  

Thanks so much for your time, I hope you are all well.

Thank you, and hope to be talking to you again soon. 

Overstand comes out on the 30th October. Digital and vinyl are available through their bandcamp whilst also being available in local record shops around the world. They have also produced the song My Favourite Swing off the new album by Steve Arrington. Again, our sincerest thanks to Apifera for talking with us. Their sound is so vibrant and enjoyable; we are all so excited to hear the full-length album. For more information on Apifera and coverage on all their music. Keep it locked to Real Tasty Music.

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