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Byron Shire
June 25, 2021

Interview with Shai Shriki

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Shai Shriki and band at Mullumbimby Civic Hall

The Shai Guy

Finally emerging out of COVID-time, singer songwriter Shai Shriki is preparing a great show and a fundraiser to start releasing his new work and creating amazing music videos. Join him and his full band for his album fundraiser and Patreon launch.

Shai, what was last year like for you? 

Last year was actually amazing! The lockdown started two days before a two week New Zealand tour. This was just the beginning of a busy year of shows, travels and recordings that were planned for 2020. 

March 2020 was an extremely busy time getting everything ready and getting on the road, but then the NZ government announced the 14 days quarantine and everything went from hectic to… ahhhh… quiet.

To be honest I loved it, I didn’t look back. Yes, I was a little disappointed that my whole calendar got erased in a second, but I felt very peaceful. Being in the Byron Shire was one of the best places in the world for this crazy time. 

How have you made the most of the downtime?

I feel like I made the most out of that time by recording my new music, writing, composing, doing art and surfing every day. I’ve set up an amazing workshop for my woodwork and art, building instruments like the Oud, Cajon drums, fixing people’s guitars, restoring instruments, making furniture by special order, growing veggies, and yes, a fair bit of Netflix.

What’s a day in the life of Shai Shriki look like?

Every day is different. Coffee is always first. Music and surfing is on the same level of passion for me so it’s on the cards everyday. I mostly wake up naturally just before the sun. It’s a really creative time for me. I get really good ideas, some practical and some are the extension of my dreams. I try to use this time to write, compose, learn something new and plan ideas. The day continues with the flow of what needs to be done or what I feel like doing. It can be recording sessions, making videos, booking shows, building a dinner table, building an instrument, and the one thing we all really love… admin work on the computer to keep this ship moving forward – or sometimes just floating.

Who are the musicians, or thinkers, or people who inspire you?

The most musical influence in my life comes from my family. Not only musically, but the way of living the music. My grandfather was a master Oud player, singer and composer in his time in Morocco and then they moved to Israel, where I was born. Music was always played around the table at my grandparents house on my mother’s side. My father’s side are all artists, sculptors, wood workers, metal and leather. This is where I get my art influence. 

The musical influences in my life were always from a very wide range; anywhere from traditional music to modern rock, pop, blues, the list of artists is too long, as long as it’s really good, touching my heart or grooving my soul. The traditional music at home as I was growing up always seemed like “old people music”, so as a kid and young teenager I was a lot more drawn to electric guitar with loud distortions. Later on, when I was about 17, I started getting the feel for the traditional sounds again. In my 20s I started playing a lot more Oud and creating a fusion of modern and traditional. A big part of my influence came from the Israeli band Sheva that was co-created by – now longtime Byron locals – Amir Paiss and Avishai Barnatan. Apart from the music they played as a band, they had a strong message of peace and coexistence. That spoke directly to my inner truth, after growing up in the Israel/ Palestine everlasting conflict and war. It was a euphoric time in Israel in the mid ’90s, and we all saw the peace coming. I feel lucky to be inspired by my close friends and family. 

I’m very inspired by new ideas like sustainability, new economy, community and overall a better life and future for all.

I get inspired by my dear friends Danny Almagor and Berry Liberman the founders of Small Giants and owners of the magazine Dumbo Feather for being dedicated and cutting edge in finding solutions for these worldwide problems. The conversations with them and the people I’ve met through them are amazingly dedicated to creating a better future and I love it!  

What do you get from powerful collaborations? Is an audience a bit of a collaboration?

Powerful collaborations are everything for me. When I am a part of a joined effort I feel energised, productive, powerful and inspired. It makes me feel more switched on, relaxed and present. When the collaboration is natural it feels effortless and complete. No one needs to push and it takes off in a powerful way. The audience is a huge collaboration! It’s always an exchange. In my shows I really like getting people to join me for a chorus, a melody or a call and respond. There’s nothing like a room or festival crowd all singing together, it creates instant unity regardless of where we come from, gender, religion, opinions, political views. It makes the moment a neutral place of accepting each other in our beautiful differences.    

Tell me about a gig you’ve played that still sticks in your mind as magic?

It’s hard to tell. Sometimes those supposedly glamour gigs turn out to be a major disappointment. I’m not avoiding the question, but I feel like those moments where nothing else exists but the music; the connection between myself and the music, with the people I collaborate with, and the crowd, all locked in – that’s the magic. I’m blessed to have many of those moments in my life, on stage and jamming with friends. 

What have you created for your upcoming show?

This upcoming show is a concentration of everything I just spoke about in this interview. 

It’s my time to emerge out the COVID time and present my new songs, music and collaborations. This is a very dynamic show that travels between intimate, heartfelt and emotional moments to a high vibe with energetic music. 

My songs are written in Hebrew and English. We will be singing in Arabic too. Most of the songs are talking about the state of the world from my eyes, some political rebel songs with a positive twist for a better future. My songs have a lot of opposite extremes in them like war and peace, refugees and freedom, everyday challenges and beauty, and of course some love songs. 

I will have an amazing band with me: Willow Stahlut on violin, Linden Lester on bass, Tsoof Baras on drums, Yoav Mashiah on percussion. Special guests include Amir Paiss on vocals, and Santur and Avishai Barnatan-Ney on flute and Turkish clarinet, and Murray Kyle on vocals, and my beautiful wife Rachel Myra, will be dancing.

This show will feature the songs and instrumentals for my upcoming new album. It’s a fundraiser for my new single releases and the launch of my new Patreon account. 

To learn more, find tickets and to join my Patreon, go to www.shaishriki.com

Shai Shriki – Full Band Show. Saturday, Mullumbimby Civic Hall. Doors open 7pm, show 7.30–10pm.


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