Orphaned Land – Seeking Higher Ground

Friday, 29th March 2013

Blistering.com: Getting Steven Wilson [Porcupine Tree] onboard to mix the album and provide keyboards was a big win for the band. What did he bring to the table and how did you end up getting him to do the album?

Farhi: Like I was saying before, with all of the layers and complexities to our music, it’s very much important to have the album mixed properly. So getting Steven to do it was big because not only is he a great musician, he’s a great producer. Having them both together could only bring added value to our music. I think the way he mixed the keyboards and his ideas were several times better than what I had in mind [laughs]. It was great working with him and of course, we are fans of him. I really admire the man and getting a chance to work with him was special. He always claimed that if we were from Sweden, we’d sound like Opeth and if Opeth were from Israel, they’d sound like us [laughs]. We are flattered by that, because Opeth is one our favorite bands.

Steven came to Israel in the year 2000. It took us nine years to work with the guy [laughs]. This just proves that if you are dedicated to something and are focused, things will happen. Anyway, he was working for a distribution company and was coming into Israel for that and to play a show and we had a chance to have a dinner with Steven and his bandmates. Like a well-educated groupie, I came to dinner with a CD and told him about it. He wrote me a few weeks later and thought it was very cool. That was it, I thought, I didn’t think much of it. Then Mabool was released and I sent him a copy and he wrote me again saying he really liked it and it was our best work so far and said how unique and progressive it was. We ended up talking on a regular basis and when he came over with his other band [Blackfield] to Israel, to Tel Aviv, it was one evening where we drank wine and I made sure he was drunk enough [laughs]… I had the courage to tell him that we should work together.

Blistering.com: Conceptually speaking, this is your biggest undertaking.

Farhi: When we decided to do a concept on the “Warrior of Light,” it had to be. If you think about it, the world we live in is trapped in this inner darkness. When you come from Israel, the land of conflict, we wanted to turn on the inner light of people. The Warrior of Light is some kind of messiah that rescues people, he’s the hero, but it’s a very personal conflict. It’s the first time we’ve decided to deal with evil itself. Just like when you’re in a dark room, you have a lot of questions. When you put a match in your hands, you can see more. Take that allegory and apply it to life and enlighten hearts, you’ll see that everyone is equal and everyone is the same. As simple as that sounds, I come from a place where people kill each other without a care. When this inner light is on, you’ll see that we’re all different, but we’re all in this together. If we’re able to see that, able to find a dialogue… but instead of having a dialogue, we’ve been killing each other for decades, for centuries. I believe that we’re holding one of the strongest weapons in our hands and that’s music. But we’re not taking sides. We’re not pro-Israel. We’re not for the Arabs. We’re for everybody. We’re for Americans, for Muslims, for Israelis.

Blistering.com: Have you seen any result of your work through people of different cultures/religions being united?

Farhi: We’ve seen it already with Arabs becoming fans of a band from Israel. There’s definitely something happening there with their inner-light. Arabs, from the second they are born are taught to kill the Israelis and that the Israelis hate [them]. I’ve seen videos of babies that are a not even a year old and when the camera asks them what they should do with a gun, they say, “Kill the Israelis.” So coming from that area, with this education, inspiring a following where Arabs are supporting an Israeli band, it’s definitely the work of the Warrior of Light. Their inner light has succeeded to understand the single truth other than the propaganda that often falls into their hands.

Blistering.com: Along those lines, do you feel some level of responsibility with your music?

Farhi: Sure. I feel very much responsible because we are dealing with fans and people in countries that are dealing with conflict every day. It’s a lot of responsibility and we’ll continue to do it. I tell people that there’s no way I can make a song about my girlfriend or basic love songs. We’re not about that. We’re about spirit, about our culture…this is who we are, so of course I feel responsible. Just the other day, someone was telling me that one of our fans was jailed in Egypt for listening to Orphaned Land. It makes me sad, but on the other hand, it makes me happy that through the power of music, he had the courage to listen to us even though he’s in some kind of danger. I don’t think we’re going to change the world or anything like that. I really prefer to be a musician, but if we can help people, or give them hope or show them another way of being positive. These aren’t just topics of my personal life.

Blistering.com: On a day-to-day basis, is it hard to function because of the non-stop violence in your region?

Farhi: [pauses] On one hand, this is the most inspiring place for us as musicians. On the other hand, you cannot find too much stability because there’s terror, then there’s war, there’s peace, then all over again. Sometimes it’s calm and quiet, but it’s never quiet all the time. Just like our music, there are quiet parts or progressive parts then we get really heavy. It’s a reflection of where we’re from. This is such an inspiring place to live.

Blistering.com: So I guess you’re never at a loss for inspiration, even with constant danger…

Farhi: Oh yeah and this is why we keep making albums, because everything around here is so inspiring. Just being Jewish in Israel is so inspiring. Just put aside the whole Middle East; having the Jews come back to their homeland after 2,000 years is special. Imagine how many cultures are coming here. They came from all over. You have people here who are Russian or Polish…the only thing that unites us is Judaism. So many cultures that have preserved this land. All of them together is a huge atomic band of inspiration.

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