The Angelcy’s Dov Rosen: For The Record

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The Angelcy hit the ground dancing about two years ago, performing almost non-stop since their first performance at InDNegev 2011. Original songs written by Rotem Bar Or resonate with poetry, raw emotion, social conscience and a seductive groove, and there’s a lot of love for the band whose performances have become a cult phenomena in Israel. That energy has been gathered inward for the past few months as the band is preparing to record their first album.

The Angelcy at the TCM Music Festival 2012/Photo: MuperPHOTO
The Angelcy at the TCM Music Festival 2012/Photo: MuperPHOTO

The Angelcy are: Dov Rosen – percussion; Maya Lee Roman – viola; Aner Paker – double bass; Maayan Zimry – percussion; Uri Marom – clarinet, flutes; Rotem Bar Or – vocals, guitar; and Gilad Piker – sound and production, and they will go on tour again from June 1 – 8, 2013, with six concerts in eight days: For the Record. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t yet heard them live, now is the time to get to know the band before they return to the intensive work of recording. The independent band will be raising money to finance their first album, and just as important, says percussionist Dov Rosen, “We’re on a break from the break and back to the fun of performing.”

I first met Dov in the euphoric moments after The Angelcy’s first InDNegev performance in 2011, I was happy to get to know a new band, talking to Dov more than two years down the road, in anticipation of the upcoming tour, he recalled the moment from the band’s perspective.

“InDNegev 2011, our first appearance was a very special moment. It was one of the first goals we set for ourselves as a band: to perform at InDNegev… it felt like something bordering on the impossible. It was the high point of that time,” Dov said, sharing the not too surprising information that The Angelcy tends to be a very “self-critical” band.

By the time InDNegev 2012 came around, The Angelcy performed on the main stage in front of over 2,000 people. Reflecting on the band’s success, Dov said, “There are many bands that work hard and seriously and they don’t get the love. We get appreciated, and it’s amazing.”

Dov Rosen/Photo: MuperPHOTO
Dov Rosen/Photo: MuperPHOTO

As someone who has been involved in music for several years, Dov knows whereof he speaks. Dov Rosen lived in Holland for six years where he studied sound, he also paints and currently has a show on exhibit at the Cafe Kasbah on Florentine.  Towards the end of his sojourn in Holland he traveled to India, and it was there that he first met Rotem Bar Or about 7 years ago.

“I’m the one who has traveled down this road with him all the way,” said Dov, recalling their first meeting in India, “Rotem doesn’t remember me from this time, but I met him for the first time in Rishikesh, it’s a very spiritual place, the Yoga capitol of the world, the river Ganges flows through there. There was a group of people singing and playing and Rotem was there with his guitar, singing every song, playing non-stop. He was a human juke box, he could sing any song that you threw at him.

They next met up in a town called Hampi, where Dov said, “By chance, all the Israeli musicians travelling through India at the time were there on the same night. We had amazing jam sessions, it’s an experience I’ll never forget. We played and people were just sitting quietly with us, listening to the songs… about 80 people.” When the hour grew late, they were asked to move, and Dov remembered the feeling of that night and the subsequent nights: “There we were, a group of people in India, roaming the streets at night looking for a place where we could sit down and play.”

Dov and Rotem connected in India, performing together, and, as Dov recalled, “We talked about music, then I went back to Holland and he returned to Israel. We didn’t keep in close touch but there was a lot of mutual respect and appreciation.”

Dov Rosen returned to Israel a year and a half later, and the two met by chance in the Shuk (the marketplace) and exchanged phone numbers. Dov had a regular gig at the time and invited Rotem to play with him, and the rest, as they say, is history. Dov recalled, “I had jam sessions and he became a permanent guest, even though I had decided that no one would be permanent…then I heard his songs …”

“His songs blew me away,” Dov said, “I suddenly saw him differently. It moved me and surprised me, it’s not the kind of music I usually listen to.”

My curiosity piqued, I asked Dov: What kind of music do you listen to?

“What kind of music do I like? I’ll tell you what I don’t listen to: a singer with a guitar,” Dov said emphatically, “I think it’s boring. When I listen to music at home, I’m more of a musician of music and less a man of words, but I couldn’t ignore his lyrics, they penetrate deep. I listened to them one night and I never expected…it blew my mind.”

Rotem Bar Or/Photo: MuperPHOTO
Rotem Bar Or/Photo: MuperPHOTO

“Everything I’ve done to improve the spirit and technique of my playing – I studied at Rimon and I’ve done many things to play better,” said Dov, “he’s done for his songwriting. He’s the kind of person who could write an album a day but he doesn’t. He took these songs and he worked on them. It’s like adding layer upon layer to a painting then getting tired of what’s there and covering it all with white and starting over. It’s been a process over the past six or seven years.”

When I persist in asking Dov what kind of music he likes, he responds, “I like many different things: prog, rock, metal, funk, klezmer… there is a kind of beauty in everything, and truth – each genre has its own truth.”

Looking at The Angelcy today, Dov said, “It’s the merging of Rotem’s fantasy with reality. Rotem’s vision was of a traveling nomadic band of musicians who live and work together,  creating a kind of collective. This is the working version of The Angelcy, the version that is sustainable. We don’t live together, but we do meet a lot. Ever since the beginning, we meet three or four times a week. We’ve spent many hours together, and we connected. Rotem really wants to see the person behind the mask, to get to know the person.”

“It’s a collective journey towards truth  and honesty. The energy that is there when we meet… it’s not a pink bubble of love, there is a lot of difficulty in honesty, but that is the place we seek, the source of our work together. It’s not just a matter of – I’ll take this instrument you’ll take that one, and we’ll get some rhythm and harmony. We try to be on the same wave, the same vibe. It’s intimacy, it’s like sex. You can have sex without intimacy, or you can make love… we’re not there yet…but we’re aware of it, and sometimes, we’re there.”

The Angelcy – For The Record Tour Dates
June 1st – Tangerine, Rosh Pina, 15:30. Tickets: 054-4776361.
June 1st – Syncopa, 5 Kiat Street (corner of Natanzon), Haifa, 22:00. Tickets: 053-8094542
June 4th – Ashan Hazman, 86/1 Ringelblum Street, Be’er Sheva, 21:00. Tickets: 077-7644218.
June 6th – Barby, 52 Kibbutz Galuyot Street, Tel Aviv, 21:30
June 7th – Yellow Submarine, 13 Harechavim,  Talpiyot Industrial Area, Jerusalem, 14:00. Tickets: 02-679-4040.
June 8th – Doug N Tony, 4 Aleph HaTzoran, Industrial Area North Poleg, Netanya, 21:15. Tickets: 054-748-6464.

Links: The Angelcy facebook page; For The Record event page.