Illustrious Israeli jazz guitarist and composer Roy Ben Bashat is considered a prodigy by many. By the time he was only 20, he had already collaborated with internationally renowned artists like GRAMMY winner Darren Barret, award winner Noah Preminger and GRAMMY nominated Morgan Guerin, to name just a few.
Ben Bashat will release in the coming months a new EP entitled LUCID. We were blessed with the chance to interview him prior to the new project. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Roy – great to connect with you, thanks for the opportunity! Just to introduce your work, how would you describe your approach to making music?
Hey! Thanks for having me. Sure, I have been always experimenting with different realms in music that inspire me in different periods in my life. I used to write mainly instrumental music most of my career that involves a lot of improvisation that comes from the jazz world.
There was some time as well that I was inspired more by classical music so I started writing more music for strings and horns. I was experimenting a lot with combining the two, and creating something more contemporary that is also personal.
Nowadays, I am mainly drawn by words and lyrics, and currently working on my latest singer-songwriter project.
When did you first pick up the guitar, and how often do you sit down to play or compose?
I started taking formal guitar lessons when I was 9. I play or compose music almost everyday.
What is it about the guitar that draws such passion and focus from you?
You know, when I was younger I used to tell myself “I wish I was playing a different instrument.” I didn’t like the guitar for some reason as much. However, a few years ago I fell in love with it again.
It’s so versatile. I love the fact that I can express myself with the guitar in almost every genre and it will fit. I also just love the sound and tone that the guitar is able to make.
Tell us about the upcoming EP Lucid – how long was this project in the making, and what does it represent for you as an artist?
It’s funny, but the band with which I recorded Lucid didn’t initially mean to be something serious. It was in the midst of the pandemic, and at the time there was barely work for us. Myself and Nando Michelin, who is the pianist in the band, thought it would be cool to get a band together and meet on a weekly basis to work on some music, just for ourselves. However, after about 6 months of playing every week and a few performances, we realised we are onto something and we decided to make a record.
This EP represents one big aspect of who I am musically. The music in this EP includes compositions that I wrote in the past few years and were the main material in my live shows. It was nice to have it finally recorded.
How vital has live performance been for you in developing your skilset and presence in the indie world, and how have you found the transition to also building a career online?
“I can’t think about anything that is more meaningful to my growth than doing live performances.”
Observing how the audience reacts to the music, which at the end of the day is one of the most important things, teaches the artist the most about how to improve the music, and what else it needs. So many times during, and after shows, I come to realisations that I would never have if it wasn’t for that concert.
Regarding the online career – so for me, I grew up into the internet and social media world. I don’t really know how it was before that. It definitely has its pros and cons though. I like the fact that I can share anything I want, anytime I want, with so many people. It provides a sort of “open stage”
for so many musicians to share their music.
However, it also seems to damage people in different ways. People focus more on the non-important details such as the amount of likes/ comments they have, and it can really mess with one’s mental health. It also damages the level and the deepening of many musicians in the art, because the social platforms are very shallow and don’t give the rightful ”stage” most of the time.
How important is collaboration, and if you also take to the stage as a solo artist – how does that compare to with the quartet or other musicians?
Good question. I think collaboration in music (and in so many other realms as well) is probably the most important thing. On a personal level, making music with people who inspire and challenge me is such a great way to learn and get better in music. On a team level, the potential of a few minds working together is greater than working by yourself.
It’s always great to have a combined input of different people, as everyone sees and thinks differently. Every band works differently though, and there is always a sort of hierarchy.
In the bands that I curate, even though it is clear that at the end of the day the last call will be mine, I try to make it a collective group in which everyone can and should contribute. Many times I even prefer my band members’ ideas more than my own. I believe that this is the best way to make music, at least for me.
What’s one of the most captivating or moving pieces of music that first inspired you to play?
I was a guitar nerd when I was young, haha. Hearing guitar players like Jimi Hendrix, B.B King and SRV really inspired me to play when I was a kid (and still nowadays). I think Are You Experienced by Hendrix was one of the main albums for me at the time.
Do you explore genre freely, or tend to remain rooted amidst the fluidity and smooth tones of jazz?
Absolutely. I love a lot of genres. Classical music was a big part of my life. Rock and Blues are also big for me. For the past few years I have been really into singer-songwriter/ indie type of music. I don’t know though, there is so much good music!
What’s next for you creatively, and where can people catch you on stage?
Besides the release of Lucid, I am working nowadays on my newest project, which is the singer- songwriter type. I guess it will be ready to be released sometime in the next year or two. I live nowadays in NYC and have a few shows coming up in the city that I will post details about soon on my socials.
Is there anything else we should know?
There are many things coming up in 2023, follow my socials to learn more about it.
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