Combining darkness and happiness in his music Tel Aviv-based artist Rina has left his footprints in the blossoming nightlife scene of his country and beyond, always having an ear for aspiring, local or renowned artists. Maybe the latter is his key to success or the reason why Asaf, Rina’s real name, has been a scene’s mainstay, or maybe it’s his unagitated way how to deal and approach music that made him win the laurels. However, Rina’s got something (fried) cooking – musically – that is on his way from the dark underground to daylight. So Asaf took on intense remix duties for Abrão’s track Intensidade – so basically one project of his remixes another one he’s involved with – on Frank Wiedemann’s Bigamo Musik imprint. Shortly before the release Asaf spoke to Torture the Artist, not only about the remix and his relationship to music but also about falafel. the underground, balancing things out, his Jazz-band and Suppe Bekifft.
Torture the Artist: Hello Asaf, tell us something about your day.
Rina: Hello and good morning, I woke up early today. I’m drinking coffee and am about to go into the studio, already thinking about what I will eat for lunch.
A lot of the music that has sailed overseas has been a bit grim.
Torture the Artist: Your remix for Abrão’s track Intensidade is up next on Bigamo. Since you are also part of Abrão, you’re remixing a part of yourself. How much of a challenge is it for you to get your hands on your own track and put it in a different context without having the struggle of assessing or comparing it to the original version?
Rina: I play with Abrão on his live show, I do all the programming beats and synths. We rehearsed for this song many times and did plenty of modifications to it. So to do another which is more in the direction of the music I do alone was relatively flowing. I made the remix first without using any of the original stems. So I didn’t struggle to find a new ambiance. When I was almost done with the music I called Abrão to send me the vocals so I can finish it. I really enjoyed the challenge and just did it without thinking too much.
Torture the Artist: Abrão’s album Omnam contains eleven tracks, why did you choose Intensidade over the other ten to remix?
Rina: I chose Intensidade for a couple of reasons: It is a very beautiful, special song with strong melodies and interesting arrangement which I think Abrão, Niv and Dori did a wonderful job making. It also is my favourite in the live setlist. When playing it live, the vocals go through my synth for the vocoder sound. I’m also the “sound engineer״ and every time, it is a challenge. I thought I could make it more simple and straightforward but yet deep and spacey while resembling it completely.
Torture the Artist: Intensidade is Portuguese and means irradiation intensity or simply intensity, what intensity do you want to highlight or emphasize with the remix?
Rina: I didn’t think about it at all. Abrão’s lyrics are always deep and meaningful. This contrast between words and music is something I really appreciate. It’s pretty common in Brazilian music that there are dark and sad lyrics over super happy melodies.
Torture the Artist: When/ in what situation/ surrounding are you an intense person and how is that revealed?
Rina: I’m pretty relaxed and have lots of patience as a person. Sometimes I am “intense” when working on music/listening/rehearsing and sorting music for my live shows and DJ sets.
Torture the Artist: You’re from Tel-Aviv and surprisingly to many who are not so familiar with the city, the electronic music that derives from there is pretty much influenced by (Post)Punk, New Wave and other genres you’d ascribed an industrial vibe/note to. However, to sum it up the music from Israel is darker than the setting one would assume – palms, sunshine, the beach. Where does your preference for the darker vibe come from and why would you say, does the scene, maybe the country, have an opposing musical taste to it’s climatic and atmospheric conditions?
Under the ground in smoky clubs with a big air conditioning system, the sun does not shine.
Rina: In Israel, we have both sides – happy and dark. Lots of influences from all over the world, basically from oriental music to psytrance were really strong in the 90’s. I guess a lot of the music that has sailed overseas has been a bit grim. And that gave this tag. Of course, there is some political conflict here, but I am not sure if this can be directly linked. A lot of producers and DJs my age just grew up with this New Wave music which was very popular in Israel and under the ground in smoky clubs with a big air conditioning system, the sun does not shine.
Torture the Artist: So Israel and Brazil both unite these contrasting sides, namely darkness and happiness, in their music. Personally, what sides attract you more and how do you balance certain influences out?
Rina: Like in life, I try to find a nice balance. But definitely in my own production, musically I tend to go for a more uplifting atmosphere. I have a track from the upcoming LP “Mat” With Benji that has both of these worlds together. The lyrics talk about the “dead” nightlife scene and the music is energetic disco. I have room for both together and alone.
A strong smell of frying, cooking, and baking.
Torture the Artist: What’s a scent you associate with your hometown of Tel-Aviv, and why?
Rina: A strong smell of frying, cooking, and baking. Street food is everywhere and the quality of the falafel ball is well known (answering this question, I know what I will have for lunch now).
Torture the Artist: And where’s the best place to get it?
Rina: There’s definitely not just one “best” place. But if you have a couple of hours and can try only one place I would go to “Falafel Hakosem”. There you can find a big variety: Falafel, Sabich, Shawarma, shakshuka, Humus. So you can try everything and see what works for you.
Torture the Artist: In your biography it is said that your “sound signature is made of Techno, New Wave, House & Electro, among other unique tools, parts and references you collect along the way.“ Where do you collect your sounds, meaning do you browse music directly to find inspiration and do you also include bits from your everyday life into your music just how Techno-pioneers like Kraftwerk did?
Rina: Personally, I like music that is diverse and cross-genre. Not just one thing. My sound is totally a mix of wandering and listening to music, and inspired by the environment as well as collaborations with other producers in the city. For many years I used to go out to listen to other DJs in the city whenever I can, sometimes 3-4 times a week. For me, it’s very important and interesting. I hardly drink and I’m not into drugs so the next day is always just another regular day.
Torture the Artist: What’s a sound from your childhood that you’d like to implement into one of your tracks, but have not yet?
Rina: In high school, I played the bass in Jazz bands all day long. I would love to find myself more involved in Jazz sound/music one day and hopefully with more musicians on stage.
Torture the Artist: Your artist moniker Rina means joy and/or singing in Hebrew. Is this what you want to convey with your music or is it more of a side note or expression of who you are and enjoy doing?
Rina: Yes, I’m very positive by nature and by practice. So if my music can bring a little joy, that’s wonderful. On the flip side, the name that I used before was complicated and difficult to understand (Untitled Arrange). So a good friend and I were thinking about something more simple. To top things up, my mother’s name is also Rina (super common name in Israel in the 50’s/60’s) lovely mother!
Torture the Artist: Since you brought up your past, when was your first encounter with electronic music and when did you start working on own music?
Rina: The first encounter was from television and 80’s movies I didn’t categorise it as electronic music but it was there. Growing up in the 90’s, dance music was all over. I had a neighbour, Udi Sternberg who is a great Psytrance Artist and DJ. I visited his basement studio with all the synths and hundreds of records. It was the first time I saw someone creating electronic music and he gave me a CD with logic 5.1.3. Then, I started making wired electronic music.
Torture the Artist: What’s a track of yours from the past, that you’d love to rework and make fit into your current technical and musical standard?
Rina: I had an electronic band and we made an album with some gems. We went to play some shows in Berlin but didn’t release anything and we eventually decided to go our own directions. It would be nice to rework one of our tracks into a more danceable environment.
Torture the Artist: Some of your track titles contain German words, Automatisch Night, or are completely German, like Suppe Bekifft. Where does your preference for German track titles come from and what is Suppe Bekifft or stoned soup (a sloppy translation of the title)?
Rina: In the titles and also in my music I used a lot of samples/speech machines and recordings in German. For me combining it with my sounds makes a lot of sense. I write lyrics in Hebrew or English and then translate them. About Suppe Bekifft, I really like how it sounds and looked.
Torture the Artist: So you basically just like the sound of German or do you have any other connection or relationship to Germany, or maybe is it just the Kraftwerk-influence on you and your music?
Rina: The first thing is how it sounds and to find words that surprise me with another texture that I like. I have some connection to Germany as my father was born in Munich, a few years after the war, and I used to travel there a lot. And yes, electronic music from Germany is also a reason why using it in my productions feels right for me.
Torture the Artist: What’s a track that best describes your relationship with Tel-Aviv, and why?
Rina: Hard to answer but I will go with R.E.M. – Man On The Moon. It’s the first song I can remember an image of. Walking in the street singing it with my big brother on our way to eat burgers, I guess I was 8-9.
Torture the Artist: A lot of artists see themselves rooted in the underground electronic music scene. Do you think it is possible to remain underground while having financial interests?
Rina: Not really, especially in Tel-Aviv where most artists do other things on the side. But some are crossing this boundary, staying true and original while able to live off well from what they love. To be honest I’m not there yet.
Torture the Artist: Name three tracks or artists that are in your current playlist and proof your exquisite underground taste.
- Uriah Klapter – Trails of Snails
- Eliezer & Middle Sky Boom – Bias Boys (Middle Sky Boom Remix)
- Decha – Nonja (Philipp Otterbach Remix)
In these times a lot of crazy things are happening.
Torture the Artist: What was the last thing that deeply touched you?
Rina: About two weeks ago I went to a protest for the Elimination of Violence against women. I was shocked to hear the families of all victims sharing their stories. All this violence is really painful and sad. In these times a lot of crazy things are happening. I try to support and help as much as I can.
Interview by Holger Breuer
Title picture by Ben Palhov