We chat to Israeli group Tatran about their return to SA for Oppikoppi 21

Cape Town - Israeli instrumental group Tatran, comprised of Tamuz Dekel, Dan Mayo, and Offir Benjaminov, played at OppiKoppi 20 last year, and are back again this year.

Channel24 found out what brought them back to South Africa, and what sort of experience a listener can have when tuning into instrumental music.

C24: What brings you back to OppiKoppi after playing at it last year?

Tatran: We had an amazing time in South Africa last year. The show at Oppikoppi was great and felt like it really resonated with the people, so they invited us back and were very happy for that.

C24: Your debut album is titled Shvat. Is that in reference to the month Shvat, with it released on the 11th of November, Tu Bishvat or something else?

Tatran: It is in reference to the month shvat (around February), often the heart of winter. The album title comes from our song Shvat, which is very close to us. It has an underlying story that felt like it occurred at that time of year.

C24: What is the biggest misconception people have of instrumental bands?

Tatran: Where we come from, instrumental music is not an uncommon thing, we get exposed to a lot of electronic music, classical music, tribal music, jazz etc. Art is a form of communication, whether it is a painting, a poem or avant-garde noise, eventually the only thing that matters is the intention and the essence of it. If you judge something by looking at the format, you could miss out on a lot of amazing things. We don’t know what people think, to us it’s just music.

C24: Following from that, in what way should a listener approach instrumental music? Does the music tell a story that lyrics would do otherwise?

Tatran: Yes, and something about the absence of words can leave space for the listener to connect to the sounds and the shapes from a very personal and deep place. It can stimulate areas within one’s self that verbal descriptions and manipulations a lot of times just can't reach.

Listening to music without words can be less like taking in someone else's experience, and more like witnessing a projection of your own inner world. Instead of portraying a specific experience it paints more abstract scenes and gives the shape of the story-line, allowing each individual, including the artist, to subconsciously associate it with his own imagery and feelings.

C24:Which music acts or artists influenced Tatran the most? How has Tel Aviv and Israel influenced your music, if it has?

Tatran: Some early musical influences may include artists like Led Zeppelin, John Zorn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wayne Shorter, Bach, Debussy, Aphex Twin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, the bad plus, king crimson, sasha argov and more... We absorb a lot of music and vibes all the time. Israel is very small and a pretty hectic place, and we're certain that the occasional feelings of frailty and disarray have a deep impact on us in ways we will probably understand better in the future.

C24: Have anything planned in South Africa while you are here apart from music related activities?

Tatran: Not this time. We're gonna hang at the festival for a couple days, play the show and then head back home.

C24: What does the band have coming up after Oppikoppi?

Tatran: Playing shows, some in israel, some in Europe, and a lot of making music.

*Catch Tatran at Oppkoppi, which is taking place from 7-9 August in Northam. Tickets for the festival cost R750 and are available here.