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Monday, October 20, 2014

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Muzika brings Israeli music to North America

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Igal Hecht interviews Israeli singer Noa.

Muzika, a new half-hour TV series that explores some of the most unique, interesting and powerful voices in Israeli music today, will air in Canada in November.

Produced and directed by Canadian filmmaker Igal Hecht and co-produced by Israeli filmmaker Lior Cohen, Muzika explores the hottest Israeli acts in the world. Musicians including Noa, David Broza, Hadag Nahash, Asaf Avidan, Idan Reichel, Karolina, Subliminal, Avraham Tal, Yasmin Levy, Izhar Ashdot and Rona Kenan are featured in the 52-episode program, which is filmed in English.

“Muzika has a simple structure,” said Hecht, who has produced, filmed, edited and directed more than 40 documentaries. “The musicians will talk about their careers, highlights and their music. The show’s focus is music, so it doesn’t incorporate any type of gossip journalism. While the artist explores their career, music videos and live performance segments are incorporated into the show. Lior and I were not trying to reinvent the wheel. This is a simple musical biography show. It is entertaining and fun.”

Hecht said he thinks Muzika is a good addition to the television lineup. “It offers a rare opportunity for people to enjoy some of the best music in the world, while at the same time see a different Israel.”

Hecht, who was born in Israel and immigrated to Canada at age 11, said he realizes his homeland “is not the most popular place out there. I believe, and have believed for years, that people’s perception of Israel is a skewed one. It is based on lies, propaganda and a general lack of understanding of the place.”

Hecht, whose documentaries such as Disengaging Democracy, Shield of Solomon and My Flag, tended to focus on Israeli politics, says this show stays as far away from politics as possible.

“We focus on some amazing musicians with some of the best music being produced anywhere right now. Muzika is aimed at lovers of music from all different backgrounds and faiths. If you love music, this is the show for you.”

Since he wanted Muzika to explore every genre in Israeli music, Hecht said the show “is not just about hip hop or pop or rock. It gives an accurate portrayal of the music that is being produced in Israel right now. So we have people who sing in Ladino, we have rock artists, people who sing only in English, hip-hop artists, chassidic and religious artists, the Mizrachi genre, reggae, alternative and the list goes on. When choosing an artist, I was looking for something unique. I wanted each week to be a different surprise.” 

Hecht said it’s hard to choose a favourite episode out of the 52 he worked on. “I can tell you that filming David Broza in his home and having him sing me one of my favourite songs was a highlight. Interviewing Izhar Ashdot was amazing. Ivri Lider is one of my favourite artists, so it was very exciting to just chill with him in his studio. Karolina has one of the best voices in Israel, and she was so much fun and super sweet. Subliminal is my favourite hip-hop artist, so sitting with him for an hour was unbelievable.”

Every musician was “down to earth, nice and welcoming,” said Hecht. “They’re a reflection of Israel. I think what many of them liked [about Muzika] was the fact that the intention of the show was just to speak about their art. I didn’t ask about politics [and] I wasn’t interested in their personal life. The entire show was dedicated to them and their music. The end result reflected that, so they were very excited and always had positive feedback.”

Hecht said he isn’t aiming Muzika at an entirely Jewish audience or at Israelis who now live in North America. “This is a show for anyone who loves music. The bombs, guns and politics are not what this show is about. I hope people embrace it, give it a chance and enjoy some good beats, wicked riffs and cool musical vibes.”

Muzika is airing in the U.S. on Shalom TV and will run here later in November on CTS, Cross Roads Televison.

To learn more about Muzika, check out the Facebook group or visit the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/israelimuzika. To see more of Hecht’s projects, go to www.chutzpaproductions.com.

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