Ninet The Loft at City Winery Philadelphia 6/3/2020Wednesday, June 03 2020 6:00pm Doors / 8:00pm Start
Ninet The Loft at City Winery Philadelphia 6/3/2020
at The Loft at City Winery Phildelphia
$28.00 Day of Show
On a weekday morning in Los Angeles, Ninet Tayeb is dealing with everyday stresses of motherhood and city living. She's a far cry from her home here, and crucially she's anonymous; another dreamer living in the destination for artists who want to reach their true potential. Back in her native Israel, Ninet is one of the biggest singers the country has ever produced. But she wasn't satisfied to rest on her laurels. There was an itch she needed to scratch. There's always been an itch…
Born in the Southern city of Kiryat Gat, Ninet was the middle child in a family of five siblings. Music wasn't just a hobby or cultural cache for the young Ninet, it was the place where she felt she belonged. A shy kid, her voice became the essential tool for how she communicated with the rest of her community and – more importantly – with herself. “My nature is to be alone. I find solace and peace in music,” she says. Ninet would run home from school, lock herself in her bedroom with nothing but a cassette player and listen to the songs she'd record off the local radio. She fell asleep at night with her headphones on. She knew from the youngest age that she wanted to be a singer. “My singing teachers were Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston,” she says. “I had a mission and the mission was to reach the high notes.”
While training herself to sing and performing locally, she also began to obsess over a wide array of music: from Nirvana to Pearl Jam, PJ Harvey to Janis Joplin, Chris Cornell to Joy Division. She and her friends would take a day trip up north to Tel Aviv to scope out record stores and music scenes, before heading back down south. The discovery of new music, new bands, new sounds became an addiction, and when Ninetfound an artist with whom she felt a deep connection she had a tendency to go a little too deep. Joy Division and PJ Harvey specifically were huge eye-openers. Nobody, however, had quite the impact upon her creative life as Jeff Buckley.
She discovered Buckley after she completed her mandatory military service in Israel. A friend from the Army gave her the CD and she put it on in the car one day, stopped the engine and experienced a profound moment of enlightenment. “I couldn't drive, I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe,” she says. For years it his was the only music she'd listen to in the car. He was the reason she picked up a guitar, he was the reason she started to write more authentic, honest, exposed songs. For Ninet, he was tapped into some higher elements and she lost herself in it.
“Jeff Buckley is the reason I exist,” she jokes, only half-heartedly. “My friends thought I'd lost my mind.” When Ninet had this epiphany she was already famous nationwide and living in Tel Aviv. At the age of 19, her friends encouraged her to enter a brand new competition: a TV talent show called "Kochav Nolad", which was Israel's equivalent of American Idol. To cut a long story short she won the series. Her life changed overnight. It took time to put the pieces together. “It took me five years to understand what happened to me. It was so massive and I think I decided not to deal with it.” For Ninet, the sudden love and attention she received felt undeserved. Her debut album “Barefoot” went platinum in less than 24 hours and gleaned five Number 1 hit singles. It wasn't especially collaborative and none of the songs were her own creations. She knew she needed to pursue a different
“I didn't give a fuck that it sold platinum because I was not happy delivering something that wasn't made for me. I wanted to dig deeper. ” Her record label
supported her taking time out to figure out the artist she wanted to become. Her second album, however, tanked. She lost a great portion of the audience. Today, however, this experience is a strength-builder, and reminds Ninet that when she follows her instincts she finds her people, even if it's a longer, more arduous road.
“I'd rather not do music than fake a career,” she says. “The second album failed in every fucking possible way you can think of but I was so happy because I was doing what I love.”
It's a similar go-hard-or-go-home mentality that brought her here to LA. She moved with her producer husband and young daughter two years ago. Initially
she wanted to move to New York – she always fantasized that someday she'd live in another country and experience a completely different culture. LA became more appealing because of its rock scene. “I'm still trying to figure out if I like it,” she says of LA. “I'm still learning.” It's quite something to leave behind a 15-year stellar career, but Ninet continues to have a sturdy presence back home. She returns to tour regularly, and a series in which she stars and acts in is having wild success there right now (“Where Heroes Fly”), and won the Best Series at the Cannes Series Festival. “To be up-and-coming in LA is part of the process. I love it. I can discover myself without any bullshit around me.”
The second Ninet got to LA she was hit by waves of inspiration and booked a studio to write and produce in. She'd just put out her sixth album (her second English-speaking record) “Paper Parachute” – a collection of gritty rock that made ripples in the States and picked up plaudits from Billboard, Nylon and NPR for whom she performed as part of the legendary Tiny Desk concert series. Spurned by that reception, more ideas were pouring out of her, influenced by new surroundings and experiences and people. In one month she wrote the record she's currently readying for release. The first single is the first song she wrote: “Self Destructive Mind” – a tumultuous, introspective ripper. It came about from sleepless nights. “There was a time when I'd wake up at 2am here and couldn't fucking sleep. It started messing with my mind. That's a song to myself.” She wrote it in ten minutes on guitar. It just clicked. She's still trying to work out what it means.
The whole forthcoming record contains ruminations on the body, mind and soul, particularly the relationship between light and dark within her. It's rooted in
rock n roll and soul-baring vocal performances. Rock will always be Ninet's home due to its brazen honesty. There's nowhere to hide in that genre. “As long as I feel it in my stomach,” she says of its power, “then I know I haven't cheated myself.”
She draws inspiration from authentic voices, whether that be Rihanna or Anna Calvi, it doesn't matter as long as it's visceral and true. While breaking through in America, Ninet is focused on creating a universal language through music. “I truly believe that music is the language of love,” she
says. She;s proud to be Israeli. Recent controversies with the artists Lorde and Lana Del Rey who pulled out of Israeli events as part of a boycott movement sadden her. “Israel is a complicated place,” she says. “But that's what makes it so unique and beautiful. Music brings everybody together, so why deny the people?”
The purpose of her current motivation is to connect with her tribe; to bring the epiphany she once had with PJ and Buckley and Joy Division to other music
listeners looking for their spark of belonging. The struggle to be heard amid the competition of Los Angeles doesn't scare her. It stokes her inner fire.
She's got plenty experience under her belt. She's guest performed and opened for the likes of Steven Wilson, Alanis Morissette, Jesus & Mary Chain and Cyndi Lauper. She's known among the artists she admires. Still, she's not shy about being the main event. “It's not fucking easy here,” she says. “But I'm not gonna give up.”
For Ninet, determination has paid off in spades back home. You doubt it's going to be any different in a new neck of the woods.