Spotting new talent

This week I met Yoav Sadan, a Cape Town boy whose musical talent was recognised by well-established names in the international music industry in New York.

Yoav's lucky break happened when a family member living in New York was seated next to Paul Rappaport, the then senior vice-president of Columbia Records, at a charity dinner.

The industry giant accepted a demo of Yoav's original South African music which he listened to on his way home, and immediately called Yoav that night to convince him to join Columbia Records.

Yoav made the trip to the Big Apple, and after a successful audition for the promotion and marketing team, had to perform for the label's president, Don Ienner, who gave Yoav a development deal.

Since then Rappaport has become Yoav's manager and mentor. Rappaport has been named by Billboard as one of the most influential people within the business and has been behind the career success of Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd, among other artists.

Born to musical parents in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1975, Yoav moved to South Africa soon after his birth.

He received classical training in both piano and cello from age four, and was introduced to the guitar (his primary instrument) at age thirteen. While attending Bishops in Cape Town, Yoav played in many bands, including one with Mark Shuttleworth.

What I admired about Yoav is that he has incredible passion and patience for what he does.

To wait seven years while his talent developed is a long time for a lot of people - waiting for the right moment to make his big break. During this time he has been working on all aspects of his performance.

His EP has five recorded songs on it which he is very proud of. Listening to them, most of the songs have something catchy about them, but I feel some aspects of the songs do need more work, and don't really appeal to me.

He calls the music pop, which is debatable. These days, Britney and Justin Timberlake spring to mind as pop.

But thinking back, the Police and Beatles in their days would be called that.

'Modern music'

This is more about modern music that isn't packaged for mass bubble-gum consumers. It's music for people who appreciate the lyrics of the song while still enjoying a melodic flow. His influences include Faithless, Sting and Radiohead which can also be heard on his original material.

What is great is that Yoav wants to spend a few months in SA for two reasons. Firstly to share his music with us and to create a following here. He doesn't want to be recognised overseas before being known here.

Secondly, he was surprised when visiting at what was happening in the music scene in SA. He then decided to stay longer than he planned to almost use this as a testing ground.

Live performances without the luxury of his band leave him to play with his guitar. This allows him to sharpen his skills of performing in front of an audience while being challenged to retain their attention.

Bands that perform live have a special kind of following the world over. No one can dispute that experiencing a band live equates to no other experience.

Sometimes, the atmosphere is truly overwhelming. The music bosses have made Yoav work on his live performance as this is how you create a following. It's also how you make money eventually.

Obviously the music industry in the States is a lot more complicated than it is here. His music is being play-listed on a few radio stations like Highveld Stereo - it's great to see locals supporting up and coming talent.

Chatting to Yoav gave me quite a few insights into the world of music. It also taught me that patience is something some people have more than others. He is one of those talents who with the right nurturing will be launched internationally, making the success he deserves. Remember you read about him here!

  • Catch Yoav at Mercury Live in Cape Town on 12 April 2005.

  • Nadia Padayachi is a PR Executive for Touchline Media's lifestyle magazines.

    Send your comments to Nadia or discuss this column now in our debating forum.

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