Interview/Music: Yoni Mayraz

Israeli pianist and producer Yoni Mayraz unveils his new single ‘Snow’. The new cut follows ‘The Rat’ which gathered praise from European and Israeli critics, supported by WorldWide FM, Jazz FM, Music Is My Sanctuary, Basic Soul, Soho Radio, NPO Radio and more.

Yoni continues affirming his trademark hybrid sound with this new tune, bringing the sacred harmonies and rhythms of his upbringing to modern hip-hop infused jazz territory. ‘Snow’ shows a more mellow side of the musician, and his ability to create subtle variation within a recurrent ‘trans-like’ melodic pattern. “‘Snow’ is a bumpy instrumental piece consisting of vintage keyboards and rugged drum recordings inspired by 90’s east coast hip hop tunes – a personal favourite of mine. In the core of the song lies a simple middle eastern motif which I play in a loop throughout the track, maintaining the driving feel of it. I called it ‘Snow’, reminiscing the rare times it snows in my hometown” says Yoni.

The tune will be released as part of the great ‘Village Live & Direct Single Series’, a compilation featuring other upcoming talents on the scene.

We’re delighted to premiere the new track and when you’re done listening read our interview with the young artist below.

Hi Yoni. What are you up to at the moment?

Hi there! These days I’m busy with the release of my new single ‘Snow’.  It’s the second half out of a pair of two singles, following ‘The Rat’, which I released last month.

How did you begin making music?

My primary interaction with music has always been through listening first, and I was digging them album shelves at a very young age. Making music for me was just creating the stuff I wanted to listen to at the moment but didn’t quite exist yet. 

Your music is a mix of different genres. How do you find the right balance between jazz, hip-hop and other elements in your music?

For me, these genres represent a state of mind rather than a specific sound or instrumentation. Jazz reflects the freedom in music and the forward-thinking of it, while hip-hop is the energy and output I choose to wrap it all with. Local cultures from my surroundings reflect naturally, I guess mostly through the ‘accent’ in which I write and play. All these elements exist in my music, representing different aspects of it.

How did the collaboration with trumpeter Itamar Borochov come about?

When I began working on ‘The Rat’ I was looking for a trumpet player with a kind of oriental sound. Itamar comes from a Jewish Bukharian family, and he plays a lot of traditional Bukharin music on his trumpet, so that definitely helped me get that special touch I was looking for on that one, plus he’s a mean trumpet player, so that was a great match.

How has Tel Aviv shaped your sound?

Well…It gets really hot and humid round here, and it can bring all the juice out of you. I think you can feel it through my music as well, really straight to the point, leaving all manners behind.

Any artists bubbling under the radar in Tel Aviv you want to shout out?

Shout out to the TAILS. A very cool local band (which I’m happy to be a part of) that is about to release its debut album, and it’s really on fire. They’re pretty underground, though, so It might be a bit of a challenge to find the music when it’s out. 

Which jazz and hip-hop artists, both new and old, inspire you the most?

Jazz wise, Paul Bley has always been a great inspiration for me, in the way he was always one step ahead of the game and always looking forward.  A more current inspiration of mine is Christian Scott, an artist which I hold a lot of respect for and to the journey he is going through. In hip hop, I’m a big fan of that 90’s east coast sound – Big L, Mobb Deep, Nas, Gang Starr… all these guys. These days hip hop is also great, in my opinion, and I really love the way it keeps on evolving.


What would be your Desert Island Record?

‘The Doors – Absolutely live’ gonna get trippy on that island…

Has lockdown changed the way you approach making music?

Yes definitely. I recorded my EP ‘Rough Cuts’ in the spring of 2020 when there was a lot of uncertainty everywhere. I couldn’t really gather all my players together, and it was necessary to record some tracks separately. Looking back on it, the isolated drum tracks in a jazz setting had a kind of a ‘sampled’ feeling to it, reminiscent of that MPC sound. It really gave it a special character, and I loved it.

Outside of music, what are your interests?

I’m deeply interested in understanding all kinds of movements that occur in our society, and the reasons why they happen. Lately, there is a lot to process in that area…

Any last words for the Twistedsoul community?

Hope to see all of you soon live!

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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