INTERVIEW: Irit Dekel Talks About Her New Solo Album HELLO

Irit Dekel

Israeli singer-songwriter Irit Dekel talks to Frankly My Dear UK about her new album HELLO and her first UK headline tour

Fresh from supporting Caro Emerald on tour, Israeli singer-songwriter Irit Dekel heads out on her first UK headline tour to promote her new solo album HELLO.

Born in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, Irit is a female vocalist currently living in London. Her journey into the music industry is certainly interesting, if somewhat unconventional. Before finding her voice as an artist, Irit was a stage actress, a TV talk show host, a comedienne, a documentary maker and even an army sniper, until music came calling.

“Music has been part of my life since I was a little kid” explains Dekel in an exclusive interview with Frankly My Dear UK.

“I grew up listening to Israeli songs and also to Bjork, Alanis Morsette, Billy Holiday, Kate Bush – you name it.”

“As years went by, I realised that I wanted to focus on music. Doing my own thing means that I’m the headliner and I’m not just part of a theatre group”.

“I see music as theatre. It’s all about telling a story but with tunes and musical scales. You add music to it but you’re saying the same thing.”

Irit found her voice whilst playing with LAST OF SONGS, the electronic covers band from Tel Aviv. While playing with the group gave her a wealth of experience, Irit never really felt that her personality was truly reflected in the music. Intent on soaking up every musical influence she could find, Irit took brave decision to move from Tel Aviv to London, a journey that would result in her latest album.

“I’m a big fan of all the great music that came from the UK. Just to think about Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Imogen Heap – I really wanted to be a part of that”.

It was in London that Irit met Jonathan Quarmby, producer of Benjamin Clementine’s Mercury Prize-winning debut album AT LEAST FOR NOW. The duo quickly formed a working relationship, crafting twelve jazz-influenced pop songs that would eventually form part of Irit’s new album HELLO.

Blending jazz and Latin rhythms with accordion, guitar, trumpets and Irit’s effortlessly cool, insouciant vocals, HELLO’s cheerful, catchy melodies conceal surprisingly edgy lyrics. Using her life experiences as the inspiration for songs, the album is packed full of stories about growing up, love affairs and matters of the heart.

“Since the second grade I’ve been writing a diary. I got it for my birthday and I still write in it today. All the ideas, short texts, poems, situations, feelings or thoughts, I brought everything into the studio and then Jonathan and me just started to dig into it and bring it to life. I would say everything is from experience and also fiction. I can do whatever I want, I can create my own stories and do things that maybe in my real life I wouldn’t do. That’s very exciting.”

Alongside her personal experiences, Irit has also brought her own musical influences onto HELLO. Growing up on a diet of jazz, classical, pop and Ladino, Irit claims female singers such as Bjork, Beth Gibbons, Imogen Heap and Kate Bush all inspired her growing up, as well as jazz greats such as Nina Simone and Billie Holliday. There is even a cover of REM’s SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE on the new album.

“When I was a kid, I was a big fan of REM” explains Irit.

“It’s a very cheeky song, it’s got a lot of layers deep beneath it. As a song it’s very simple so I kind of like that contrast in it.”

The same can be said for Irit’s original material, which she says evolves with every performance.

“As long as you keep practising and singing it again and again, you find many other depths to the text. When I perform live, it’s just with an accordion, trumpet and guitar and on the album it’s not just that so it creates different sounds in a way. It’s more intimate”

Her approach to music seems to be working. Whilst on tour with Caro Emerald, the audience – and the critics – responded well to her material.

“The audience embraced it and they were awesome. I was quite surprised because I didn’t know what to look for but it was absolutely great”.

HELLO by Irit is released on 16 February 2018. Dates for her UK tour in February 2018 are as follows:

February 2018 UK tour

Monday 19th – Glee Club, Birmingham
Tuesday 20th – Roundhouse Studio, London
Wednesday 21st –Band On The Wall, Manchester
Thursday 22nd – Oran Mor, Glasgow