Rock ‘n’ roll psychotherapy from Yedua Batzibur
‘When I write a song, I’m not fully conscious,’ says leader.
If you’ve ever been to a concert by a relatively new Israeli rock band, with a heavily pregnant bassist who gives her all from the stage, than you probably already know Yedua Batzibur (“Common Law”). Attorney and singer-songwriter Noga Sheffer set up the band three-and-a-half years ago together with her friends, Hilit Rosental (programming, keyboards), who writes music for films and plays and works at a start-up company. Psychologist Idit Vaadia is the bassist and now a new mother.
Other members are guitarist Eran Livnat and drummer Gili Reichental. Wednesday at the Ozen Bar, the band will release its first mini-album “Pirpurim” (“Palpitations,” which has four songs, en route to a full-length album), and also host the band Ha’ivrit. As a band whose members are all in their thirties, this is not a bunch of people with a lot of spare time who decided to become rockers because they were bored. The girls say it was and still is a shared and important goal of theirs not to give up the band, regardless of their personal and professional obligations.
Sheffer, who is the leader and lyricist, is the only one without any musical education. Vaadia says that “In order to create something complete, the creative force must be surrounded by people who know the rules,” and Sheffer declares that on her own, she simply can’t do it. The last two songs on the mini-album, are really a cry for help; “Pirpurim Ahronim” (“Last Palpitations”), begins: “The last palpitations of a cry for help/ large eyes search me unabashedly.” In the song, “Tistaklu” (“Look”), the speaker pleads: “Look at me/ I’m dancing/ Look at me/ I’m singing/ I’m not reading poems alone/ in the dark to myself.”
Like the musicians she is fond of, such as Morrissey, P.J. Harvey and The Knife, Sheffer also tends to write very openly and directly, and usually from a spot that is bleeding. Her texts are backed by piles of guitar distortion and layers of electronic music that is reminiscent of 1990s trip hop.
Rosental says the band’s most exciting moment so far was the concert at Syncope in Haifa. “We got people from Tel Aviv to travel an hour to see us perform in Haifa! Besides that, we felt a tremendous sense of relief because you don’t have to be cool there, you don’t have any agenda like in Tel Aviv; we could just be ourselves.”
Yedua Batzibur is known mostly in the gay community. “Look, all of our songs are written from one woman to another,” explains Vaadia. Sheffer adds that you have to understand whether this is music of homosexuals or music of lesbians, and Rosental concludes that the band is proud to be part of the lesbian side of the community. Sheffer: “The truth is that most of the band’s members are straight, but I write in such a way that lesbians naturally connect to it. I write from a place that is truest for me.” She never considered the possibility of hiding behind the masculine form when writing. “For me, it’s not even a matter of choice; it’s just what happened.”
She says her writing is guided by emotions that she doesn’t necessarily understand. “It’s a very associative thing and that’s why many times I understand my songs only from the perspective of time, or I suddenly grasp them on a different level than what I was thinking of while writing,” says Sheffer. “When I write a song, I’m not fully conscious. After I undergo a process of recognition and awareness, I no longer need to write a song.”
So instead of arranging weekly meetings with the band’s psychologist, she writes songs? “In addition to, not instead of,” she laughs.