eMusic Selects: Pink Noise
[eMusic Selects is a program designed by eMusic to give exposure to unsigned or undersigned bands. This month's selection is Pink Noise]
Pink Noise make cinematic art rock — layers of piercing, mathematic guitars over subtle electronic programming, fronted by Sharron Sulami’s smoky, frantic alto that channels the likes of PJ Harvey and Karen O. The band in its current incarnation formed in Brooklyn, where they live now, but their members met in Israel — Itamar and Yuval Ziegler are brothers, Yuval Lion and Sulami met during their time in the Israeli army’s orchestra. They all moved to New York in the late ’90s, and played in different groups together before forming Pink Noise in 2003.
It’s fitting that on their Here is Happiness EP, Pink Noise cover “Next One Is Real.” The song was originally recorded by the Israeli post-punk band Minimal Compact, who paved the way for others leaving their country to reach a wider audience. (It should be noted that Minimal Compact also have a frontwoman who learned to play bass for the band.) While they make frequent trips back to Israel, Pink Noise have found a community in Brooklyn that’s introduced them to neighboring artists like Holly Miranda (who contributes vocals to “Redwoods”), and TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, who produced several tracks on Here Is Happiness, as well as their forthcoming LP, What Would Happen If Someone Finds Out?
eMusic’s Laura Leebove sat down with the band in Williamsburg to talk about their Brooklyn peers, the music scene in Israel, and working with Sitek.
On the community surrounding the South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bar and music venue Zebulon:
Yuval Ziegler: The whole scene that revolves around the Zebulon area, they’re good friends and they keep a very open, experimental place that lets musicians go and do whatever they feel without necessarily having to pack the place. So a lot of our connections came from meeting people there, playing around, playing together. A lot of the artists work behind the bar over there. It’s that kind of place.
Itamar Ziegler: There’s a lot of respect to music there.
Y. Ziegler: There’s a lot of experimental stuff — people feel free to collaborate there. Even people that are in bands that we already know, they just come and collaborate with other people. Everybody knows each other.
On recording with Dave Sitek:
Sharron Sulami: I think that what he gave us at that time was just having fun in the studio — going in and playing different instruments, trying everything and waiting to see what would happen after…
Y. Ziegler: There was the feeling and the opportunity to try everything we feel like. And the other thing is Dave just knows how to get the big sound out of everything — the huge space and the nice drums.
Sulami: And our record before that, we decided, before we did that, to do it just live in the studio so we walked in and played it, and whatever was there, that was it. That was the concept of the last record. So this one was the other way around.
I. Ziegler: With Dave we got back to doing the colors and layers of things.
Yuval Lion: He’s fearless. He just goes for stuff he hears and then…he kind of constructs everything.
On the rock scene in Israel:
Sulami: It’s better now than what it used to be.
Y. Ziegler: There’s the two different rock scenes: the local, regular scene and the one that’s more aimed toward Europe and the U.S.
Lion: With MySpace and the Internet, a lot of bands that were underground, they started spreading out and have been playing out. They book their own shows and they’re not necessarily leaving Europe…A lot of people that sing in English play out in Israel a lot of times. Sometimes they’re on the radio, too.
Sulami: Like we’re playing this show at a festival in L.A. with Monotonix, which is another band from Israel, so it’s gonna be two of us and another band, so that’s gonna be fun. There is good stuff coming out — and there is shit, like anywhere.
On the Israeli band Minimal Compact:
Lion: It’s an Israeli band that worked in Europe in the ’80s — one of the pioneers of bands from Israel working there. Great music, it was kind of like, new wave, avant-garde. You’d hear about them, they’re a very interesting band, and they were about to really make it big and then a lot of stuff happened. They were in Europe in the mid ’80s, late ’80s, and from that band two people returned to Israel and they â€”
I. Ziegler: — had very successful solo careers.
Lion: It’s just a lot of great music from that band.
Y. Ziegler: In Israel, for a long time, it was kind of frowned upon when you make music which is not in Hebrew…And [Minimal Compact] were one of the pioneers going out of the borders and trying to reach [an international audience].
On singing in English instead of Hebrew:
Y. Ziegler: It was very natural to us and I think for a lot of kids our age, we started writing in English. And now it’s very common.
Lion: We formed here. We didn’t write in Israel as this group.
I. Ziegler: As teenagers listening to music, English was the language of music.
Y. Ziegler: The world got a lot smaller in the last 20 years.