Northern Lights

The crossover band Louisa has been rocking small venues in the Galilee for the past couple years. Now it's time for them to hit Tel Aviv.

Uri Zer Aviv
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Uri Zer Aviv

The Louisa band is still not so well known in Tel Aviv, but in the north of the country the rock band that Idan Talmud and Itay Sacharof formed has drawn a devoted audience for more than a year, despite their cautious abstention from too much publicity and exaggerated digital hype on the social media.

The 12 songs in their first album, "Ktsat Sheket" ("A little quiet" ) are characterized by a psychedelic blues-rock sound and vary dramatically in mood. In some of the songs, the Louisa members sound like a progressive Mediterranean band ("Musalsal" ), at other times like stadium rock ("Eit Hafira" ) and sometimes like a Black American punk band that has come here to play a dance party ("Dance When You're Alone" ).

The Louisa band is slowly garnering a local fan base.

The seeds for Louisa were sown by the soloist and guitarist Sacharof and Talmud (lead guitars and vocals ) eight years ago. Those were the awful days after completing their basic training in the army when the two found themselves once again at the induction base where their first days of compulsory service were spent doing menial tasks.

"Really days without significance," Sacharof recalls disparagingly, adding: "Our music then started from shouting. Simply shouting with frustration about the framework."

And Talmud adds: "Itay was a drummer then and one day he invited me to join him playing." The two found musical consolation in one another in those days, which entailed collecting cigarette butts and kicking automatic dispensing machines for drinks. For years Sacharof and Talmud continued to create together, to write songs and appear in various and strange ensembles. During one incarnation, they played in an ensemble of two acoustic guitars and a cajon (a box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru ). It was only in the past two years that they were joined by three additional musicians, all of them in their 30s - Dror Shem-Tov whom Sacharof met when they worked together in a restaurant and who plays the electronic keyboard and is responsible for everything technological that frightens both the original founders of the band; Gilad Lautsker who plays bass; and Moshe (Mosh ) Shai, the drummer who also holds the position of responsible adult.

"The moment Mosh entered the picture, everything started moving," Sacharof says. "He studied sound at the Jordan Valley College and at SAE in Australia, and the moment he understood that we really wanted to move forward, he began helping and pushing. Through a friend of his from Kfar Giladi in the north, he arranged performances for us here and there in the area."

Sacharof and Talmud are pleased that they had the opportunity to begin appearing outside Tel Aviv in the beginning. "As a Tel Avivian, I was really scared to start appearing inside that bubble," Sacharof admits.

He says he prefers Louisa to grow slowly and thinks that growth should come "naturally," adding: "I don't believe in talent but in time and hard work. In people or a band that go a long way together. Look, I don't believe in love in the same way that I believe in long-term friendship and shared experiences out of which love grows. That's why I had fears about the gaps that would form between the two of us, who have been working together for almost eight years, and the other members of the band who have been with us only for the past year and a half."

The album was brought out independently, and not by a well-known company. You won't find pictures of the band members on its cover but rather a colorful work of art created by dance theorist Noa Eshkol. "The design is a photograph of a wall carpet. It's the work of Noa Eshkol, the daughter of former prime minister Levi Eshkol. My grandmother worked with her for years. She is a figure who was always there for me as a kind of mentor," he says.

Eshkol, who died in 2007, was a famous choreographer who invented a new dance language. "She was against anything yellow and fanatical about her privacy. She was involved only in art," says Sacharof.

It is possible to understand Sacharof's connection with the image of Eshkol, since he too is concerned about his privacy - so concerned that the invitation to the next appearance of Louisa carries his name shortened to Itay "Sach."

Sacharof is not interested in personal fame but wants his music and art, and that of the band, to be famous instead. This is a creative decision that should be respected. "After all, we don't want the name that jumps to mind when people hear our songs, to be 'Talmud,'" Sacharof says with a wink. "We are a band."

A band based on friendship

What holds Louisa together, its stable base, is the friendship between Sacharof and Talmud. "I always saw Itay as someone whom I wanted in my life, to continue to make music together," says Talmud in an open display of their friendship. "We feel good with one another and that is why good things emerge from our connection with each other. He often needs someone who will stabilize him emotionally and I sometimes need him to come and shake me up, to give me a slap."

So is that the division of labor between you?

Talmud pauses for a moment and says with a laugh: "Yes, you can say it's something like the relationship between a husband and wife."

Sacharof adds: "Idan is the emotional one and I'm the anxious one."

Even though Louisa sounds great in both Hebrew and English, it seems as if it's much easier for them to kick rock 'n' roll in those songs of theirs that are in English. The songs in the album that are in Hebrew sound much more introvertive. "In the Hebrew songs, there is something that expresses more frustration. When you use Hebrew, the world of associations is necessarily from here and those are not always happy associations," Sacharof says, while Talmud continues: "In English you sometimes feel more of a king and can allow yourself to go wild more."

Sacharof adds: "Yes, because there is an emotional cut that makes it possible."

The choice of English was not because of an intention to break out into the world - the band members have far more modest intentions than conquering America. "I need the base of a small and authentic audience to be freer," Sacharof admits.

In a survey on the Edinburgh Festival website, Louisa came in second. "It's true that we signed up for the festival this year, but a little too late," Sacharof says. "If they had done so in time, it's reasonable to expect that Louisa would have been one of the biggest and happiest surprises there."

But as you've probably realized already, Louisa flows at its own pace and won't allow any cultural event to put pressure on it. Next year it not only should appear at the festival but also should have the right to being assigned to one of the two large stages. Until then, it will be possible to catch the band appearing in various places in the north, and on November 19, at a full performance in the Ozen Bar in Tel Aviv, marking the new album, "Ktsat Sheket."

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