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Interview: Lior

Lior is at Bellingen Festival

Counting down the days ’til Bello Winter Music,artists and punters are getting ready for one of the great events of the Australian festival calendar.

On of the awesome shows at Bello will undoubtably be Lior, one of Australia’s most successful singer/songwriters, renowned for his beautiful voice and songs that radiate truth and sincerity.

Lior, who burst on to the Australian music scene in 2005, has toured extensively both in Australia and internationally.

Most artists set out with an ambition to build a career based on musical credibility and integrity while maintaining an independence and individuality in their craft. Lior is certainly part of that rare breed. We caught up with him last week for a chat.

Your music seems to bridge a wide range of styles and genres. How would you describe your current direction? How has it evolved since you first set out?

I have played a lot with different arrangements and instrumentation throughout the course of my albums; however, the thing that binds it all together is the strong emphasis on lyric. The lyrics I write are my diary so the choice of how to arrange and record the songs always comes back to choosing the musical context that will best convey the words at hand. I find it very difficult to go on to record and perform a song unless the words hold something that is significant and meaningful for me.

Where did you grow up and did you grow up in and around music?

I was born in Israel and moved to Australia at an early age. Israel is an interesting place musically because it is a melting pot of so many different cultures, both East and West, and the music they all bring. Looking back I’m now aware of how much my ear was being enriched by being exposed to so many sounds as a young kid. It was only upon arriving in Australia at the age of 10, where I picked up the guitar, which then became my conduit to start singing. I’m not from a particularly musical family… music seems to have found me.

Can you name some of the artists who have inspired you during your musical journey?

I listen to a wide range of music but the era of the late 60s and early 70s has always been the golden age of songwriting for me. The artists of that time, from the great bands (Led Zeppelin, The Beatles,The Doors) to the amazing songwriters (James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake) are the ones that left the biggest mark on me.

You released your most recent album in 2014. Has there been a planned direction your albums are going in?

My focus first and foremost is to write genuine songs that resonate with me and will hopefully connect with others. I leave the ‘concept’ projects to the various side projects that I weave around my songwriting and album making. Albums for me are about presenting a collection of a diverse set of songs that I am proud of.

In 2016 you made your first music theatre appearance in Fiddler on the Roof, sharing the stage with Anthony Warlow and Sigrid Thornton. Can you tell us about that experience?

It was an inspiring and terrifying experience all wrapped in one. It isn’t an artform I thought I would ever undertake, but something propelled me to dive outside of my comfort zone. It was a steep learning curve and a lot of what I learnt through that experience has carried over into the core of what I do as a singer/songwriter. It’s the old cliche of the importance of challenging yourself, which often translates to putting yourself in a place that can be a little scary or confronting. Sometimes making yourself vulnerable is the only road to the attainment of the courage that you need in order to express yourself.

Please tell us more about the Compassion project.

In short, Compassion is a project I undertook in collaboration with the incredible Australian composer Nigel Westlake. The work is a songcycle for voice and orchestra whereby I gathered a collection of ancient Hebrew and Arabic texts that give a poetic insight into the wisdom of compassion, and proceeded to write original melodies and orchestration to them together with Nigel. Compassion was a way of further exploring the fusion of eastern and western vocal styling, which has shaped parts of my sound over the years, but thematically also a way of expressing the common ground shared by two of the oldest cultures that have had such a tumultuous history. It is a humanitarian rather than a political statement, one that Nigel and I feel is truly universal. Compassion was also a way for me to work with Nigel, who I believe is currently one of the greatest composers in the world. We were fortunate enough to perform it with many of the major orchestras in Australia and I recently premiered it in the US. I feel the work has struck a deep chord with many people and is something I’m very proud of.

You recently performed a beautiful concert with Paul Grabowsky at Lismore City Hall. Do you have more performances with Paul planned?

Yes… Paul and I are bringing our show to the Powerhouse Theatre in Brisbane on11 August. Working with Paul in reinventing a collection of my songs for piano and voice has been a great experience. The colour and dynamic range of Paul’s playing is quite remarkable and to have that brought to my songs has been a thrill.

What’s next for Lior?

I am just in the final stages of my new album which is set for release on1 August. I will spend much of the latter half of the year touring it both in Australia and overseas.

What can audiences expect for your performance at Bello Winter Music?

The show in Bello will be an intimate solo show. I’ll be performing a few songs from the new album as well a selection of old faves.

Lior is performing at Bello Winter Music on Sunday 15 July. More info and tickets at www.bellowintermusic.com


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