'The term ‘Mediterranean’ best describes my artistic schizophrenia,' says Liran Amran.
'The term ‘Mediterranean’ best describes my artistic schizophrenia,' says Liran Amran. Photo by Daniel Bar On
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Since age three, Liron Amram has been going to the Yemenite music concerts performed by his father Aharon, now 75. Along the way, he also picked up the sounds of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Prince, together with those of Mizrahi greats like Avihu Medina. Amram has a peacock style with the punk bite and delicacy of hot sauce topped off with yogurt. He's a hybrid - a real ethnic type but also a young hipster. On April 20 he will follow Avi Sinwani's act at the Radio E.P.G.B Club in Tel Aviv.

"My father's Yemenite music is crucial for me," says Amram, one of his songwriter/promoter father's six children. Asked if the pop music he loves is likewise crucial to his father, he said: "Look, from a musical point of view, my father connects to many styles. I can sit next to him in the car and listen to Jimi Hendrix and he likes it. Don't forget that this guy saw his song 'Galbi' become a disco hit in the 1980s, and he was pretty happy about it. But I don't think I'll take him to a show where Prince is wearing only silk underwear, a leather jacket and socks."

His show is composed of electronic versions of Mizrahi classics - that is, until Rami Danoch arrives to raise the roof with standards like "Barcelona" and "Et dodim cala." "It isn't easy to maintain the simplicity of the original and try to insert something else, something of your own, but I decided to take the risk," said Amram.

For his last birthday party, Amram hosted Mizrahi legends Daklon and Aharon Yarimi. He is disappointed, though, by much of what he hears from contemporary Mizrahi artists. "My father's material and that of Ofra Haza, Zohar Argov, Haim Moshe, Yishai Levy, Yehuda Keisar, Rami Danoch, Moshe Ben Mosh and Daklon are much more interesting and revolutionary than most of what's released today." But he hasn't lost hope. "It's just another stage in the development of the genre; perhaps when people relax about making big money they'll start to make music, and then I believe the genre will take its place in the international repertoire, and not only here."

Given his background, it's surprising that Amram first sang Mizrahi songs on stage only a month ago, vocalizing Mediterranean style and playing guitar in front of electronic music. "When I was putting the show together, I had my doubts, but the moment I started to work on the electronic versions I felt completely natural about it."

In a word, how would he characterize his music? "Mediterranean," he says. "That may be the best description of my artistic schizophrenia."

These days he's studying production and sound at the Muzik College in Tel Aviv. "I have a lot of material recorded at a basic level that is slowing cooking into something with more shape," he says. "Meanwhile I'm gathering the right people and plan to perform as much as possible. That's the real school. In addition, I'm working on a live show with Yust Cohen, and three singles have already been released and a remix abroad, and of course there are parties on Radio E.P.G.B." with DJ and broadcaster Yevgeny Charkov.