Asaf Avidan on New Album Different Pulses and "Why I Decided to Go Back to Basics"
"It's acoustically different and it's sonically different," Israeli singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan notes, comparing his new debut solo album, Different Pulses, to his work with former band, The Mojos. "It has different sounds and touches on different genres of music and takes a different approach to making a record."
While Avidan has produced other projects on his own (including an EP and a live release) both before and after his three full-length albums with The Mojos, this latest collection of songs is perhaps his most personal. And rather than dwelling on the repercussions of the 2005 breakup that pushed him into a musical career, Different Pulses strives to hurdle the obstacles left behind by the disintegration of that relationship.
"I became a musician because of that breakup, but this album is no longer about that," he says. "The first two albums were roughly about that, and ever since then, it's been a continuous kind of digging inside to find the roots of these problems that I'm perpetuating."
However, completed with producer Tamir Muskat, the drummer for the New York- and Tel Aviv-based band Balkan Beat Box, Different Pulses was also a collaborative effort. Together, Avidan and Muskat provided all the instrumentals on the 11-track record.
Yet the vision is entirely Avidan's. And while the new album draws upon many of the same influences as his work with The Mojos, the process of working nearly alone on this project allowed him to explore artistic depths and creative idiosyncrasies that'd previously been frustrated by the band dynamic.
"I felt that I needed more colors in my palette and I needed to control them a bit more," Avidan admits. "Because of that, Different Pulses is much more personal and much more what I envisioned it to be, because it doesn't go through so many filters to get there."
As for the album's underlying outside influences, tracks like "Turn" reflect Avidan's passion for the tremolo guitar-driven sounds of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western film scores.
The album even incorporates certain literary influences, including two of Avidan's favorite novelists, Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer.
"It's amazing for me because they were these writers that influenced me and our art got us together," Avidan laughs, explaining how one of the characters in Foer's Everything Is Illuminated inspired the writing of his song, "613 Shades of Sad."
"It's a really cool story because I'm going to meet them next week. We've become really good friends. I wrote them after I released Different Pulses that they were a huge influence on this album and I sent it to them."
Following his extensive tour schedule in 2013, which saw numerous performances before large festival crowds, Avidan felt it was necessary to deflect his attention to smaller, more intimate venues -- like Coral Gables' upcoming Carnaval on the Mile -- where his music could be appreciated wholeheartedly.
"When you go into festivals, it's not only the capacity of the audience that changes, it's the expectations and the kind of audience," he explains. "It's people who are not really familiar with your music, so there's kind of a sense that you have to prove something. You feel like more of an entertainer and not just an artist.
"There's absolutely no trick to it. You go and play music and hope that it will be OK and that people will enjoy your music or find it favorable. We're not doctors or rocket scientists, all we do is try to let out our emotions in some kind of systematic form."
Even though Carnaval on the Mile is something of a festival, with over 30 artists scheduled to perform over the course of two days, its communal grassroots nature made the event an ideal candidate for what Avidan is aiming to accomplish with his current tour.
"It's not only for the people, it's something that an artist should do for himself as well," he says. "That's why I decided to go back to basics and do little shows with audiences that are there to listen to the words and go through this little voyage with me."
Carnaval on the Mile 2014. With Asaf Avidan, Black Violin, Pedrito Martinez, Locos Por Juana, Suénalo, Spam All Stars, The Problem Kids, ArtOfficial, and others. Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2. Miracle Mile, Ponce de Leon Blvd. and Le Jeune Rd., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Visit carnavalmiami.com.
Follow Alex Silva on Twitter @Silvasgoldd.
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