The song that’s in the centre of the room: an espresso with SHALOSH

Image Credits: shalosh © shalosh

October 31, 2019

Onwards and Upwards

Arriving at the third studio album, the Israeli trio SHALOSH is proving to possess a peculiar sound and style.

> Ivano Rossato

What creative process led to the composition of the songs contained in Onwards and Upwards?

Every song had a different process. Some songs were brought to the rehearsal almost finished and together we found the songs heart within one or two rehearsals. Other songs took up to eight or nine months to work on. Some songs are brought to rehearsal and then were completely restructured and even re -composed. Sometimes we jam and improvise and a song starts that way. We’ve never had a lead sheet for the music. Everything is being taught by ear. That way the music is internalized better. The songs in Onwards and Upwards had a chance to be polished on the road for almost two years and so many of the songs on the album were played in concerts a hundred or more times. This had a big effect on the way we approached the recording process. We came to it like a concert and played the entire album through like a set list a few times. It also influenced the compositions themselves. I always say you never really understand a song before you play it live, it’s the perfect laboratory. 

Sometimes the song wants to be something else, like a living organism, and we try to listen to what it has to say.

Many of your compositions developed into multiple “acts” as if they were small works in their own right. Is this a desired goal or is it a natural process?
That is a great question. I think composition is always a combination of a natural intuitive process and a more intellectual desired goal. There is a texture that we like and we always ask: what is the reason for a certain part in the music. There is never a moment in the process where we say “just solo over the form”. It’s always more in the realm of “why is the solo here and where is it leading”. In a way it’s a bit like classical music. That said, we try to let every composition have freedom from our wishes, sometimes the song wants to be something else, like a living organism, and we try to listen to what it has to say. Michelangelo once said, he doesn’t make the sculpture, he just moves the stones around it to find it. That’s how we feel about composition. We try to find the song that’s in the centre of the room. 
The musical styles that you mix in your music come from different world traditions and cultures: do you feel that this is part of your DNA? And how much of your music do you think derives from your homeland?
The fun thing about SHALOSH is that there are no rules about what we can or cannot play and the sum of all of our individual influences always gets into the music. So if Matan is into Afrobeat, David is into classical Arabic music, and Gadi is into classical music or punk rock, it all goes into the music somehow. We try not to think about genres when we play but just look for sounds that excite us. In regards to our sources of inspiration… First of all, Jazz is a rich tradition of black American music and in that sense its roots are not in the Israeli scene. It’s more like a tree that has its seeds all around the globe and we all pick up theses African flowers and embrace them to our own sound. There are also geographical influences to the Israeli scene that makes it unique. The proximity to north Africa comes through in the music’s rhythm and the rich and beautiful Arabic culture surely gets in to the music. You also have the language element. Hebrew has a certain rhythm to it and certainly influences the music. Lastly, there is a nomadic element of the nation’s history where every individual has his or her own history of culture and music which creates something very eclectic in the sound. All of these elements combine to the general sound the scene has.
Are there any artists (from any musical genre) that you think are particularly interesting today?
Yes! We’ve been digging August Green lately, fantastic stuff. We’re also big Kendrick Lammar fans. David has been listening to a lot of Marocan music lately. Louise Cole is doing some great things and the whole west coast scene is booming. There are also great sounds coming out of Brussels and Berlin. 
What future plans do you have for Shalosh?
We are planning to record our next album, also on ACT records, in February. Most likely in the same studio we did Onwards and Upwards. This next album will be a direct continuation of Onwards and Upwards, a bit of a part 2, with some pretty exciting new and heavy sounds. We are also working on our SHALOSH plus ONE project where we play with various singers and instrumentalists on special arrangements to our music. We also have a project with a philharmonic orchestra we hope to keep on doing.
The song that’s in the centre of the room: an espresso with SHALOSH copyright Jazzespresso 2019.
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