Watch out for Adi Ulmansky… she’s got HUTZPAH
We’re spoiled for choice for female vocalists at the moment. But Adi Ulmansky has a solution to being one of the lucky ones that gets heard in an otherwise noisy world of self-released mixtapes, scantily clad Tumblr pictures and collaborations with up and coming deep house producers: Bring out the Israeli charm.
‘I have “HUTZPA”,’ she says. ‘It’s a Hebrew word meaning being cheeky and rude. Israelis are well known for their cheeky attitude and I guess it’s something that I can’t really get rid of – sometimes it’s really fresh, fun and honest, but I must admit that it has a lot of bad aspects as well. I’m trying to focus on the positive ones though.’
Evidence of Adi’s abundance of ‘hutzpah’ can be seen in the video for her track A.D.I, it’s a parody of a 1990s Jewish wedding, and serves as a good introduction to the Jerusalem-born singer’s sense of fun, and musical direction, which she describes as ‘electronic-post dubstep’.
‘The whole idea of the track A.D.I was to give this funny ethnic atmosphere and just spell my full, long name. I wanted to create some kind of criticism about the culture that I come from, but wanted to do it in a fun and cool way,” she explains.
Her creative vision was helped on its way by Vania Heymann, himself a hotly tipped Israeli creative with a string of acclaimed short films to his name. ‘He immediately understood what I was trying to say and came up with this idea on the spot,’ she says. ‘So basically, it’s a typical Israeli wedding from the Nineties that looks really exaggerated and weird and everything changes the minute I’m coming to perform in that wedding instead of the regular ethnic musicians that play most of the weddings here.’
To be fair the wedding guests do look aghast that they’ve been treated to an earful of distorted noise and a girl with green hair rapping than the jaunty beats of a klezmer band.
Like a lot of girls in their early twenties, Adi was raised on diet rich in trashy pop and RnB, think Destiny’s Child, TLC, The Spice Girls and others of their saccharine, over styled ilk. But it was a chance encounter with the seething emotion and experimental approach of Radiohead that set her off on a musical path. ‘It really changed my perspective about music. I was amazed by the added electronic touch – It really inspired me and influenced the path I took as a musician.
‘Today I listen to mostly to producers but not only. From Hudson Mohawke, Flying Lotus, Disclosure and Rustie, to rappers like Angel Haze, Kitty Pryde and Iggy Azalea. I also love Grimes and MIA, Death Grips, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Prince.’
She started out in a group, Lorena B, and although they still perform together, hitting up festivals across the world and touring the UK twice, at the moment the focus lies on her solo work, which combines hip-hop with Middle Eastern undertones.
‘I think my music is a little easier and more fun than the music we were doing as a band - it’s more sarcastic and trashy and I really enjoy working on it and being the one who’s responsible for everything – from producing, to writing, composing, singing and mixing. It feels amazing,’ she says.
The Jerusalem-born singer, who now lives in Tel Aviv, not only gets to flex her creative muscles in the studio but also challenge herself vocally. ‘I think I have this combination of rapping and actually singing and that I can go from being this little girl with an angelic voice to being a nasty bitch,’ she says. ‘I think it represents two strong sides that live peacefully in me and it’s not really common.’
A previous collaboration with Israeli dubstep producer Borgore was well received, and she has just released a mixtape, Shit Just Got Real, which she spent six months writing, producing and recording. ‘It has been an amazing journey – doing everything by myself for the first time – from writing and composing to producing and mixing. I just followed my heart and created my fantasy world in music and colors,’ she explains.
‘It feels amazing to create things that you feel proud of… music that is new and fresh and different. I think my favorite track on the mixtape is My Heart – I think it’s the best representation of who I am as an artist and as a person and it combines a few different aspects of my style. Besides, it has a killer chorus.’
The mixtape, available for download from her Soundcloud page, serves not only as a CV of Adi’s undoubted musical ability, but also as a snapshot of where she is now. ‘It’s really important to me to come from a different point of view in each song. I was really trying just to have fun in my studio and look for new things that would excite me – at times it started from a beat that later developed to be a song, and at times it started from the lyrics, or a melody or a concept I had in mind.
‘Growing and living in Israel has a very big influence on my current sound. I’ve been exposed here to a lot of music that don’t actually happen in Europe and the US, with a lot of music being influenced by ethnic music. It’s really easy to hear those influences in my debut mixtape, and I think it’s part of what makes my music different.’
Israel is so small and so is its music scene. I actually don’t think there are any other musicians around here that do something similar to my stuff. But I would definitely be categorized under “electronic – postdubstep” and there are a few musicians here that do these kind of things. There is a lot of good music coming from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Adi Ulmansky’s mixtape, ‘Shit Just Got Real’, is available for download now
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