Is­rael’s trance dance icons

They may be called In­fected Mush­room — but they’re global stars of the dance-mu­sic scene. Front­man Du­vdev talks to Paul Lester

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

IN­FECTED MUSH­ROOM ARE Is­rael’s most pop­u­lar elec­tronic dance band. And al­though they re­lo­cated in 2005 to Los An­ge­les to “get out of our com­fort zone”, when­ever they re­turn home to play a gig — and gen­er­ally it is a mas­sive af­fair in front of thou­sands of fans — they make prime­time TV news and the front pages of the main­stream press.

They are noth­ing less than na­tional icons, which is un­usual for an “un­der­ground” out­fit at the fore­front of ex­per­i­men­tal trance. Imag­ine The Chem­i­cal Broth­ers — Bri­tain’s clos­est equiv­a­lent — on the Six O’Clock News. It would never hap­pen. But in Is­rael, it does be­cause Amit Du­vde­vani and Erez Eisen, the pair at the core of In­fected Mush­room, are su­per­stars, achiev­ing global recog­ni­tion for their mu­sic and the scene they have spear­headed since their in­cep­tion in the mid-’90s.

It is a scene that has been called, var­i­ously, psy-trance (short for psy­che­delic trance), pro­gres­sive dance, tech­norock and avant-garde chill-out.

“We pre­fer [the term] ‘elec­tronic band’,” says Amit “Du­vdev” Du­vdeva- ni, the duo’s 33-year-old singer and co-founder. He adds that the “psy­che­delic” bit of the psy-trance tag is more about the over­all feel than any min­d­ex­pand­ing con­no­ta­tions. “This isn’t a drug move­ment; it’s an elec­tronic mu­sic move­ment.”

It is one that has proved in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar. In­fected Mush­room re­cently per­formed on Ipanema Beach in Brazil along­side the Black Eyed Peas in front of some 200,000 peo­ple. This week­end they are play­ing in Lon­don — al­though tick­ets were sold out weeks ago.

But Du­vdev ex­plains that, even though he and his key­board-play­ing In­fected Mush­room part­ner Erez “I.Zen” Eisen, 27, are head­line news back home, they are not vic­tims of pa­parazzi in­tru­sion. “You can be mas­sive here but live a nor­mal life,” he says. “Be­cause Is­rael is a small coun­try and every­one knows every­one, peo­ple are cool and you don’t get has­sled that much. It’s great to be ‘na­tional icons’ — it gives you a pos­i­tive feel­ing, as though the whole coun­try is be­hind you. But peo­ple gen­er­ally leave us alone.”

He ad­mits that it was dif­fi­cult up­root­ing from Is­rael at first, but given the sim­i­lar weather, and the fact that LA has a big Jewish com­mu­nity, the move there has been fairly pain­less. Over in Hol­ly­wood he tries “to lead a Jewish life to the best of my abil­ity”. His wife, he says, “does the main hol­i­days, of course”, al­though he adds: “Not the Sab­bath, be­cause we play so many Satur­days around the world.”

His “Jewish­ness” is never ad­dressed in the mu­sic of In­fected Mush­room; if any­thing, Ara­bic or Mediter­ranean sounds are more likely to seep in. Nor have they ever suc­cumbed to pres­sure to be­come spokes­men for their gen­er­a­tion of Is­raelis.

“We were never into pol­i­tics… we avoid it. We’ve got our own agenda and we keep it to our­selves. ‘Make Peo­ple Dance’ is our slo­gan. We don’t speak on be­half of Is­rael. Our mu­sic is, first and fore­most, struc­tured to­wards rock­ing the dance­floor as hard as pos­si­ble.”

Both clas­si­cally trained mu­si­cians from Haifa with a back­ground in com­put­erised mu­sic, punk rock and heavy metal, the duo met in 1996 af­ter Du­vdev had com­pleted his mil­i­tary ser­vice and was work­ing in his fam­ily’s steel fac­tory. “I’d been trav­el­ling around In­dia, mainly in Goa on the party scene,” re­calls the singer. “Then I came back to Is­rael and de­cided I wanted to make mu­sic. Trance mu­sic.”

But it would be trance mu­sic with a rock at­tack. He had his “mind blown” by The Prodigy and the “gothic elec­tro rock”, as he puts it, of Depeche Mode. He es­pe­cially ad­mired the lat­ter’s abil­ity to com­bine elec­tronic beats with rock in­stru­men­ta­tion.

And so In­fected Mush­room’s records — from 1998’s de­but The Gath­er­ing and 2000’s Clas­si­cal Mush­room to 2003’s Con­vert­ing Vege­tar­i­ans and 2004’s I’m The Su­per­vi­sor, up to this year’s Vi­cious De­li­cious — have seen a grad­ual pro­gres­sion to­wards an ul­ti­mate fu­sion of sleek elec­tron­ica and pri­mal rock’n’roll.

Mean­while, the ad­di­tion of gui­tar and drums, and el­e­ments of hip hop, Mid­dle East­ern, Celtic and fla­menco, have given the band a pow­er­ful new sound. And Du­vdev is grow­ing into his role as su­per­charged front­man.

“I like the fact that I’m half-trance mu­si­cian, half-rock star,” he laughs. “It was a hard tran­si­tion to be­come the lead singer with a band that was so elec­tronic be­fore. But I’m com­fort­able with where we are to­day.” UK per­for­mance de­tails: www.in­fect­ing theuk.com or tel: 020 8365 8918

Head­line news: Amit “Du­vdev” Du­vde­vani ( left) and Erez “I.Zen” Eisen

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