G-Nome Project Discusses the Israeli Psychedelic Trance Scene, Performing in Brooklyn, and Lighting Drumsticks On Fire
One of the many reasons I love music so much is because it constantly exposes me to different types of people, different cultures, and different schools of thought. Before I first encountered G-Nome Project, for example, I had no idea Israel had such a thriving psychedelic trance scene. My first time seeing them in concert was at DROM in Manhattan back in 2015, and after learning about their backstory and grooving to their technical set, I was completely fascinated by Israeli psychedelic trance and the music scene G-Nome had just introduced me to that night.
Formed in late 2012 by Eyal Salomon (keys), Yakir Hyman (guitar), Zechariah Reich (bass), and Chemy Soibelman (drums), G-Nome Project is an Israeli band that finds its home base in the city of Jerusalem. In their early formative years, G-Nome made a name for themselves within the psychedelic trance / livetronica scene in Israel, where they regularly sold out venues in Jerusalem as well as Tel Aviv – the heart of Israel’s artistic scene. In 2015, the band’s original guitarist, Yakir Hyman, left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Shlmoo Langer, who currently plays in the band. Since their inception, G-Nome has recognized the similarities and potential cross-over of fans within the Israeli and US livetronica scenes. With this in mind, G-Nome Project has done an amazing job bridging the gap between the two countries, and has completed 6 US tours since 2012 with stops at major stateside festivals like Camp Bisco, Great North, and Wild Woods.
On May 18th, G-Nome Project returns to the United States for a headlining performance at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York. With support from up-and-coming livetronica outfit, Vibe & Direct, Buffalo’s meteoric electronic rock band, Space Junk, and intermittent DJ sets from PK.KID, this will be the band’s first time performing in Brooklyn, the borough that’s started to develop a reputation as New York City’s new hub for live music. Ahead of the show I caught up with the entire band to talk in detail about the music culture in Israel, performing in Brooklyn, and Chemy’s tendency to light his drum sticks ablaze on stage. Tickets for G-Nome’s Brooklyn debut are still available and can be purchased here.
CEG: Hey Shlomo, Chemy, Eyal & Zecharia, thanks for taking some time to catch up with us. To kick things off, fill us in on what the band’s been up to so far this year!
Zechariah: This past year has been really exciting. Our two-leg tour this past summer with Shlomo really had us exploring new ground. We hit up new markets, new festivals, and it was a welcome step forward for us. But at that point Shlomo was still pretty new to the group. The Winter Groove tour this past February was when things really started to meld and take shape. That was a really great tour.
Eyal: Its definitely been a crazy year. Not easy to change a band member at this stage in the game but this year proved it’s possible. This past Winter Groove tour was magic. We have our new sound with Shlomo and it’s better than ever!
CEG: On May 18th, G-Nome Project returns to New York to headline the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Do you guys have a history with Brooklyn or the Knitting Factory? What can we expect from this show?
Zechariah: This is our first time playing Brooklyn. All of our NYC shows up until this point have been in Manhattan. We mostly stuck to the Village until we moved uptown to American Beauty. Now we’re heading out to Brooklyn and we’re really excited about it.
Chemy: I have performed at the Knitting Factory with Yossi Piamenta. It’s a great feeling to know I’m going back to honor his legacy after his passing. The Knitting factory is a great venue.
Eyal: I’ve been told that the scene is moving to Brooklyn and I can’t wait to embrace that fact! In regards to expectations- we have a ton of new material that NYC hasn’t heard yet. Expect some sick grooves, huge nasty drops, and more of that insane energy NYC seems to inspire in us.
CEG: You often credit Israeli psychedelic trance music as a major source of influence for G-Nome Project. For those not familiar, can you take a minute to describe the psychedelic trance scene over in Israel?
Zechariah: Israeli trance is really intense. It’s fast. It’s loud. I really enjoy the production value and the creativity of their synthesized sounds. But the coolest thing to watch is the Israeli crowd. They’re extremely responsive to the music, and when the drop comes, it’s just crazy. Everyone goes absolutely nuts.
Eyal: I really think it’s an experience everyone should have. Attending one of these nature parties and seeing thousands of people lose it at every trance drop is inane. The ground shakes. The energy is palpable. It’s hard not to get inspired.
Chemy: Infected Mushroom, Astrix, Shpongle. These are the names that are huge here in Israel, and they have all had a huge influence on our sound. We try to incorporate a lot of their flow and patterns into our own songwriting and sound.
CEG: I caught one of your sets at Wild Woods last summer where Chemy lit his drum sticks on fire mid-set. Chemy, where did you learn this maneuver? Do you guys have any other similar tricks up your sleeves? (video below shows Chemy lighting his sticks ablaze)
Chemy: I love to use it. I love to do it. It’s a very big fire hazard so we try not to burn stages down. It’s not exactly fire proof so it’s kind of dangerous. At Great North last year I almost lit on fire. The skins were burning. But it always creates such a fun vibe so you will certainly see that fire again!
CEG: Most of G-Nome’s recorded music are soundboards from live performances. Does the band have plans to write and release a studio album anytime in the future?
Zechariah: From a cost-benefit standpoint, we’re pretty far from being able to really sit down and put the time and money into a proper studio album. For now, we’ve been very happy with the free dissemination of our live recordings online. It’s been great for exposure, and for our scene, and it seems most people prefer live recordings. It’s hard to transfer the live feel of livetronica to the studio. That said, I don’t rule out the possibility of going into the studio at some point in the future.
Eyal: As Zach said, it just hasn’t made sense for us yet. We all have full-time jobs so when we get back to Israel we would much rather work on new material for the next tour and get those songs “tour-ready” than sit in a studio for hours getting one track exactly right for that a recording. We are a live band and as of now we are staying as such. But you never know what the future will bring. It could happen!
CEG: Looking ahead, what concerts or festivals (besides The Knitting Factory) are you most looking forward to?
Eyal: This year we are playing a lot of cool festivals I’ve never attended. Very excited for Summer Camp and to see TAB live. I’ve always heard of the magic of Domefest and can’t wait to take part in the intimate family gathering that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong have created. Also I am truly humbled and excited to be headlining Germination in Maine. Maine has always been special to us and I can’t wait to get back there.
Chemy: I’m most excited for Summer Camp. Pumped to finally see EOTO live. I love the drummer / percussionist, Jason Hann. I met him before. He’s a great guy. I love his work.
Zechariah: We’ve got a lot of fun festivals coming up. I’m excited for Beardfest, Germination, and Domefest. I’m not sure all the festivals we’re playing have announced yet, so I’ll leave it at that. But it’s going to be a fun summer.
CEG: Shlomo you recently took over as lead guitar for G-Nome when Yakir left the band. What prompted this transition, and how’s the last year or so been playing with the band?
Zechariah: I’ll butt in for the beginning part of that question. A friend of Chemy’s suggested Shlomo as a potential replacement for Yakir, and when we tried him out, pretty quickly we realized he’s the one. But the prompt definitely came from us. Before joining G-Nome, I don’t think Shlomo had any thoughts of joining an internationally touring livetronica band, especially considering he had never even heard of this genre of music.
Shlomo: This past year with G-Nome has been amazing. I’m being exposed to new music, culture, and people. It’s been intriguing, often weird, but mostly a lot of fun, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.
Eyal: Ill also chime in and say watching Shlomo’s growth has been incredible and inspiring. He had no knowledge of the scene or the music before joining G-Nome. He stripped down all ego and just let in all this new information. The fact that he has internalized all of this and now owns the music is incredible. It’s now hard to convince people that a year ago Shlomo didn’t know who Phish or the Biscuits were.
CEG: How did you choose the name G-Nome Project? Is there a story behind that decision?
Zechariah: Yakir, Eyal & I were trying to come up with a name for our very low-key jam trio so we could perform for fun. Yakir had drawn this logo of a dancing gnome, or something like that, so we were throwing out names that had to do with gnomes. I suggested G-Nome Project and it stuck. The project part of the name comes from the fact that we always considered it a project, an improvisational project. We’ve come a long way, and there’s a lot more composition, but at the end of the day the band is still an improvisational project.
CEG: Looking ahead once again, what goals does G-Nome have in place for 2017?
Eyal: This year should prove to be our biggest yet! We are coming back for 2 festival runs this summer hitting up at least 7 festivals all across the country. There will be a few club dates here or there but those runs are mostly focused on festivals. Our next big tour will be in October / November. We are planning a big tour all across America and finally returning to Colorado!
Chemy: Our number one goal always is to connect with our fans. So in the meantime we have a weekly “Livetronica Lunchbreak” where we stream a short set live from our lair in Jerusalem. Check out our Facebook page for info about our next Lunchbreak. Our community has been growing worldwide. It’s great to have a weekly hangout with likeminded people from all over the world enjoying some good music.
CEG: Finally, we like to end interviews with an open forum. Anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t cover here?
Eyal: Our new material is coming out better than ever. We can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Chemy: Get ready cause we are coming with a BOOM!