Klezmer Techno Music? This 22 Yearold Is Making It A Thing

Klezmer Techno Music? This 22 Yearold Is Making It A Thing

It is called Clajtronica. Primarily electronic dance music with elements of klezmer, an older genre consisting mainly of samples and synthesizers, although older instruments not necessarily matched are also used in live performances. Kaya Berman-Peters, a 22-year-old graduate from New York, co-founded and called Klejtronica "the first of its kind."

Josh Dolgin, known as the godfather of klezmer hip-hop, answered:

Montreal-based musician Dolgin, known as Socald, is known as a roadie who integrates samples into klezmer music. On a recent visit to New York, he met Berman-Peters and was convinced that there was now a kleztronica "scene".

The Jewish EDM scene

Berman-Peters has organized three Klejtronica events so far, starting with a Jewish party in New York in December. Two rallies were held in March. one in Boston who invited 500 people to a Purim party; The other takes place at Trans Pecos, a Queens venue dedicated to EDM. A second night at Trans Pecos is set for this week, and it's Clear the Floor, Boston-based collective BIPOC, who curated four of the night's nine acts.

The remaining five works were selected by Berman-Peters. Three of these performers performed the pronoun star/ten; Abby Goldberg plays Chava Goodtime; and Beila Unger, a former ballet dancer, describe themselves online as "queer, white, Ashkenazi Jewish." Howard Unger, trumpeter in Washington, DC, Unger Jr. Dad said. Berman-Peters described the Klejtronica scene as "a very strange place". He will act on stage under the name Chhaya.

Rounding out the 20th Kleztronica is Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Eleanor Weil , who will play a thousand-year-old instrument called the hurdy-gurdy. Even if a medieval instrument played the strings by turning the crank, the result would act like an effects processor controlled by a guitarist's foot pedal and allow the addition of reverb, vibrato, tremolo and wah-wah to the wale sound. Wale calls it a space worm because it sounds like "20 aliens playing together".

"It's so raw and intense," she said. “It's like a wire shot. A lot of people can't handle it."

"A Very Strange Place"

The same goes for kleztronica, with its noisy disco rhythms borrowed from house music, a genre created in Chicago in the 1980s by African-American music producers. House is known for its four-story rhythm, where the bass drum hits every beat . Kleztronica's rhythms and synthesized orchestrations may find some klezmer fans too mechanical.

But a Kleztronica show has a human touch. Berman-Peters was known for her beautiful voice, singing along to the music she played on her tape recorder.

"Creating a home in the diaspora is very important to me and Klajtronica is my version of it," Berman-Peters told me.

Berman-Peters is currently on sabbatical from a music program offered jointly by Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music. He plans to record his first Kleztronica album this summer. But he doesn't just play EDM klezmer; He sings with Mama League, a Boston klezmer ensemble, and is a member of Levison, a Boston-based klezmer trio.

"He's a great musician," said singer and veteran klezmer musician Jeff Warschauer, who met Berman-Peters when he was 14 and joined the Columbia University klezmer band he led.

How Chaya makes his music

Berman-Peters' main "instrument" is the Roland SP 404 MKII, a $500 paperback-sized sampler. Although he worked on it for less than a year, as he played the accordion, he became adept at pressing the device's 17 blocks, which were used to play patterns and rhythms.

In addition to the synthesized instrument sounds created by the sampler, speech and vocal samples are used. In one passage, he begins a few lines of Hatikva , then spins them in a way that sounds more like editorial comment than creative development. Some of the dialogue is incomprehensible, and not just because it's in a language other than English.

" Oh, klezmer, top! In a roughly 12-minute piece on his Soundcloud page, he samples a Holocaust survivor who sang some Purim verses door-to-door in Eastern Europe. The audio is part of a May 2022 performance at the New England Conservatory of Music.

At just under eight minutes, " Utzu Yetza " features recordings of artists and activists such as Emma Goldman, Jenny Romain, Molly Pickon and Michal Yaszynski, talking about issues such as gay politics and the treatment of Palestinians . (Berman-Peters says she is committed to overcoming the "trauma of Zionism" in music and live performance.)

Pianist Anthony Coleman, who worked with Berman-Peters as a teacher at the conservatory, praised the song " Utzu Yetza " and compared it to Public Enemy's work about "what happens on the street". Berman-Peters' Klejtronica song is also reminiscent of some of the radio mixes played on left-leaning stations like WBAI, where news and pop music blend together to comment on the politics of the day. Both straddle the fine line between agitprop and art.

Coleman has a long history of exploring Jewish music with the Sephardic bands Tingze and Selffatters. It was Coleman who produced the sample for his friend David Krakow's 1995 album. Klezmer for madness . album but he eventually abandoned the sampling technique, disillusioned with attempts to use abstract sounds still associated with Judaism. Coleman noted that the sampling technology of 2023 was light years ahead of his sampling time.

A new era for Jewish house music

"The level of engineering we were working with in the '90s was nothing compared to the level you have now when you're dealing with sampling," says Coleman. "There is no comparison. We had to work with limited memory. Now everything is at your fingertips. Now it's so easy. What do you do with it?"

While teaching an "Issues and Trends in American Music" course at the conservatory, Coleman listened to some of EDM's most successful artists, including some famous Americans like Diplo and Skrillex. Coleman said the music on Diplo's records "sounds pretty much the same to me".

But Hankus Netsky, co-chair of the contemporary music department at the New England Conservatory of Music and one of Berman-Peters' teachers, believes that despite electronic music's flaws, keztronica appeals to young people looking for a way to connect with their ethnic roots. Netsky said this is something that the mainstream Jewish community ignores.

Rooted in Jewish mysticism

"Kaya is the perfect person to do what she does," Netsky said. “He has a very strong Jewish background, so steeped in Jewish mysticism that you don't find much there.

Another mentor, Basia Schechter, has known Berman-Peters since childhood. Cantor Schechter, founder and lead singer of the world music group Pharaoh's Daughter, remembers Kaya as a little girl sitting on her father's lap and learning Jewish mysticism in the family home.

"He created a new movement in klezmer and really brought it into the 21st century ," Schechter says. "It's not just a genre, it's a way to bring a certain generation of people together. He creates an environment around himself."

Berman-Peters' colleagues in the 20s and 30s were clearly not the first klezmer to use sampling . It goes back at least 30 years.

Trumpeter Frank London of The Klezmatics used the sample in his klezmer score for the 1993 documentary film Showitz . The following year, samples became part of the mix for the band's album Jewish With Horns . Borscht Beat London are finishing up a new CD album that has been sitting on their hard drive for over 10 years. According to the label's CEO, Aaron Benditch, Jewish EDM promises to push boundaries. Sam Day Hermet, the guitarist responsible for closing the band Eleanor Whale, had a hand in mixing the upcoming album.

Krakauer is playing the sample from Klezmer Madness . The recording was the first CD released on Tzadik Records' Radical Jewish Culture imprint. Additional samples were placed on Krakauer's 1998 recording Klezmer in Progress, New York .

For an interesting example of how to mix the old with the new, listen to Wally Brill's 1997 album The Covenant . It features rough cantoria samples added to synth-heavy dance grooves from the 1920s, 30s and 40s .

Although they only emerged in the mid-2000s, Beatbox had a major impact on the fusion of sampling and hip-hop in the Balkan klezmer scene.

But no mainstream artist in the klezmer scene uses samples as effectively as Dolgin, who found his way from hip-hop to klezmer.

In 1999 or 2000, Dolgin first visited Claes Canada. Not finding the scene as unusual as he had hoped, Krakauer used minidisc recorders to sample some of the great klezmer artists, including the late Pete Sokolow and Philadelphia drummer Ellen Hoffman Watts.

"That was the key to me starting to do what I'm doing because tattoos are so fun and unique, but they can be so twisted and shaped," Dolgin said of the late drummer.

In the more than 20 years since, Dolgin has recorded numerous albums, toured and recorded music with top klezmer artists. Such was his status as a mover and shaker in the klezmer scene that McGill University hired him to teach a course on Jewish music.

"What surprised me the most was that [klezmer sampling] didn't happen again after I did it," says Dolgin. "No one has really taken up the challenge yet. So now it seems like this new generation has the tools and knowledge of the old music and new genres of dance music to create the kleztronica scene. It's really gone a bit."

The next Kleztronica is scheduled for July 20th in Trans Pecos.

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