Here at Randomville we not only try to profile the latest musicians out there but also do our best to bring the insight of these musicians with interviews. A NYC (specifically Brooklyn) native, Eytan of Eytan and The Embassy got a chance to sit down with us prior to his support slot gig with Ok Go at Terminal 5 to answer some questions about his journey to being a musician and why it means so much to him.
Randomville: First off are there any principles you’ve learned as your time as a musician that you take with you whenever you record/play/etc? Like a philosophy on how music is and what it means to you?
Eytan: When it comes to performing, my guiding principle is to think as little as possible in order to fully connect with people and make them feel something. I try to avoid being self-conscious myself. It’s a tough thing to achieve because we all have insecurities that keep us in our heads, but the more I can get over myself in the moment, the more the audience will lose themselves in the music and get over themselves as well. I also like to keep things loose on stage; I won’t script anything I say word for word between songs or what I do physically
I think music is a vehicle for people to connect with their emotions. When I first listened to OK Computer, it was like there was this huge buried sadness that I didn’t know was capable of rising to the surface. It was extremely powerful. But music can put you in a great mood and make you want to shake your ass too. I’ve always loved all kinds of music, the sad stuff and the stuff that makes you want to shake your ass explicitly.
Randomville: Do you feel any pressure being a support act for a group like Ok Go?
Eytan: Not at all, but I don’t say that because I consider us to be better. I just feel confident in what we’re doing as a band, and I think it compliments what OK Go does and I believe in a way that makes for a great package bill. At the same time, this was our first tour and we learned a lot. At the first couple of shows when we watched OK Go and Company of Thieves play, we realized right away that we had to up our game and connect more with the crowd like they did. So we discussed it and made adjustments. It pushed us to be a better band, and that’s what it’s all about. I think we got better with every show on this tour, and we owe that to being surrounded by amazing bands. I also love the challenge of winning over a crowd that doesn’t know us, and I think we achieved that so I’m proud of this tour.
Randomville: How important would you say performing live is and what do you do to show that importance in your performances?
Eytan: For a band like us, the live show is extremely important. We’re not gonna be indie darlings but we’re also not a cookie-cutter band that’s gonna impact mainstream radio before we have a legitimate fanbase. So right now all that matters is going out there and playing great shows, working our asses off, and building this up one fan at a time. We just try to have fun up there and give people something exciting to hear and see, and once we get off the stage we love to meet everyone and hang with the audience.
Randomville: I was very interested to learn that you had a nomadic childhood. Did the different places you live influence how you viewed and took in music?
Eytan: I think moving a lot as a kid makes you want something like music to give stability to your existence, like a constant for example. I don’t know if the places themselves really informed the music though; by the time I really started writing songs we were settled in the New York area where we stayed. But I do remember very vividly moving from D.C. to New York as a kid and listening to Springsteen’s “My Home Town” on the drive to our new house and crying and thinking about how I’d miss my friends. Definitely my mom being from Israel influenced my music; there’s a lot of sadness in Israeli music that I love.
Probably living in Williamsburg after graduating college influenced how I viewed music more than the cities I was in as a kid. Being in Brooklyn comes with a hyper-awareness of what is “cool” and I think for a while I really wanted to be “cool,” whatever that means. It took me a while to realize that it’s cooler just being whatever it is I am, even if it’s not as “cool” as say… Grizzly Bear.
Randomville: Do you have a favorite country that produces music? If so which and why?
Eytan: I do love American music. Sometimes other countries just seem too shy about breaking out that sweet cowbell. Come on guys, we all crave cowbell! It’s like sex, you can never get enough. Just embrace it!
I am really into Chinese music and instruments. I bought myself an Erhu, which is similar to a violin but a bit more nasal. You see a lot of guys in the subways playing it in New York, and I just love the sound of it.
Randomville: Your tracks are quite layered in terms of progression and instruments; do you feel this is a reflection on your personality?
Eytan: I like surprises, unexpected twists, and I like variety. I think all of that comes through in the chord changes and instrumentation on the record.
Randomville: And lastly how important do you feel your experiences play into how you write tracks?
Eytan: It’s important, but I’d say only about a third of the record is directly autobiographical. The rest is about themes that resonate strongly with me, but the lyrics themselves came together in more of a stream of conscious story-telling way. There’s a song called “From Now On” on the record that’s probably the most personal and autobiographical, and I’d say on a good night it’s usually the emotional high point of the live show.