Nefrit El-Or
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Nefrit El-Or

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Music Monthly
April 2004
By: Elona Jones

Music like this poses a threat to me. It mocks my once prevailing theory that there were no more unique musicians, that everyone with a CD was out to make cash rather than to make someone think. I’m glad to say that Nefrit El-Or’s Maya Blue helped me reevaluate my erroneous revelation.
D.C. area, Nefrit El-Or resided in Israel and had life rich in artistic and musical expression, which partly explains why her lyrics are so cleverly penned. There are no obvious interpretations. You could be left with a song that you thought meant one thing but on closer inspection, on a different day, it is communication something to you totally different. One song that I toyed with the meaning was “Acqired Taste”. The song identifies a person too proud yet secretly scared to show compassion. However, an admire “lashes” into this strained sense of tenderness and accepts it as being the best the proud person can give.
The skill of the lyrics isn’t the only thing that made me change my theory. Nefrit El-Or’s voice is soothing whisper that gladly accompanies the talent of instrument. The electric guitar riffs of Kevin Burns add an eerie feeling to songs such as “Collider” and “Delirium” which makes the band at times reminiscent of Radiohead. The song ”Un-Tuned sense” is the best demonstration of their musical talent. The song is a beautifu7l symphony that utilizes violin, keyboard, drums and complimentary backing vocals to Nefrit El-Or’s breathy expressions. There is still something I can’t quite put my finger on when listening to this disc, but I suppose that’s the beauty of good music- it makes you constantly question and think. However, it doesn’t exactly take a brain surgeon to understand that Maya Blue is special. I
- Music Monthly


Music Monthly
February 2004
Grab Bag
Quote: “Nefrit El-Or has what it takes to get noticed in the music business.”
By: Greg Yost

At the young age of 25, Nefrit El-Or has a sound and maturity well beyond her age. This maturity is a direct result of her artistic ability and her passion to create and is evident when listening to her debut album Maya Blue.
With a beautiful and haunting voice, an excellent supporting cast of musicians and some well-constructed songs, Nefrit El-Or has what it takes to get noticed in the music business.
From her early days in a Kibuutz in Israel, Nefrit was given the opportunity to focus on and develop her artistic abilities. Not only was she crating and performing music, but she was also writing and acting. Four years ago she came to the United States and immediately immersed herself into the D.C. music scene. After three years of performing as a solo artist, she enlisted the services of drummer David Tyndale and Bassit Matt Eiland to support her songs. It is with this lineup that Nefrit recorded Maya Blue and performs regularly throughout the region.
The nice thing about Maya Blue is the way that the band complements Nefrit’s voice and lyrics without overshadowing her. She is definitely the focal point of the album, but it wouldn’t be as good without the support of the other musicians. Of particular note is the song “Escape Velocity” with galloping acoustic guitar lead and swirling chorus surrounding Nefrit’s exotic vocals.
In making her debut album, Nefrit El-Or has succeeded in creating the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing Sunday morning.
Just a cup of coffee, the paper and Maya Blue.
- Music Monthly








Into the "Blue"
Nefrit El-Or and Her Band Mellow Out and Get Blue
By Aaron Cunningham
A year after forming her band, singer-songwriter Nefrit El-Or reveals an expanded musical palatte on "Mellow Blue."

I bumped into loyal On Tap reader Emily Bonham recently and she asked me, in the course of our conversation, what the best part of writing for On Tap is… I thought about it for a moment or two. I could've answered "limousines" or "CABO WABO, BABY!", but the truth is, while those are awesome perks, the best part about writing for On Tap is being able to talk to great musicians – people whose work I truly admire – about what they do best. Hearing CDs before CD release parties is a close second. As I type these words, I'm listening to Maya Blue, the excellent and enchanted new CD from Nefrit El-Or. She will be bringing her band, along with ilyAIMY and the Mike Holden Band, to IOTA Club and Café on January 29th, 2003. And she'll be bringing numerous copies of Maya Blue as well. It should prove to be the first "can't miss" show of the New Year, with three great bands playing a great venue. I sat down with Nefrit and drummer David Tyndale in the children's section of the Rockville Barnes and Noble to talk about their upcoming CD Release Party.
********
OT: Nefrit, I first saw you playing solo, acoustic [guitar] and piano at the Proof Through the Night XII show at Staccato – we shared a bill there, and I saw you all as a full band at Luna Park Grille some time later. I was wondering how that transition worked; from being a solo performer to being in a band? How did you find the guys? How did it all come together?

Nefrit: Perfect! Perfectly! I think the show…you saw us as a band [at] was probably the first show, wasn't it?

David: It might've been…

Nefrit: The first show, officially, was at the Music Conference in Harrisburg and then [the first local show] was at Luna Park Grille, so we weren't very tight yet…

OT: I don't know about that! (laughing) I remember being shocked when David told me that you guys had only been practicing for a month or two at that time and I didn't believe it. I thought it was fantastic!

Nefrit: That's a very nice compliment. Thank you!

Did you always know you wanted to perform the songs with a band?

Nefrit: Well, I'd been playing solo for three years in the D.C. area. Before I came here, in Israel I had a band. We had like a broomstick for a microphone stand, you know? It was like a basement thing, you know? We didn't really do much with it. So then I came here and I did solo stuff for three years. As time went by, it was always in the back of my mind to get together with other musicians. But I think I developed my songwriting and my performance around here with open mics and I started getting gigs. I thought eventually, when the time comes, I'll get a band, but I wanted to be able to do it by myself – to be able to stand in front of a crowd and get their attention by myself. And then it matured, the idea of collaborating with other musicians and then I got to the point where I said ‘Okay, I'm ready. I want to be with other musicians. I want to share the stage with other people. I want to have this interaction with other musicians. I want to have other musicians bring their stuff into the music.' I contacted my sound engineer who recorded my album. He's a drummer and he couldn't do it, but he referred me to David. People were like ‘Wow, you're going to look for years for musicians…' and ‘We've been auditioning bass players for three years…'

OT: A lot of horror stories? (laughing)

Nefrit: Yeah, horror stories! But you know, somewhere I was like ‘I'm gonna find the right people, the people that I'm supposed to find.' The first person that I contacted was David and it clicked right away. Matt [Eliand], the bass player, I met at Iota at an open mic. When we got together it was like a month before the show and I was like, ‘We need to get the band together for this show!', and Matt contacted me at the same time that we were thinking about getting the bass player and he was like, ‘Are you auditioning other musicians?' out of the blue, and I was like ‘Yes!'

OT: Cool!

Nefrit: Matt was the first bass player, Dave was the first drummer I contacted, and everything just fell into place!

OT: What definitely came through for me, the first time I saw you guys as a band was the chemistry that you have as musicians, and then having talked to all three of you at various shows since then, the people behind the music and the personalities behind the music and the interactions between you seem to really come through! How did the songs on Maya Blue change in the transition to a full band and from those performances to the studio? How did that process alter what we hear now?

Nefrit: The album is not with these guys. It's something that I recorded over two years. I'm totally ready to go into the studio with them… NOW! We're - On Tap Magazine


Singer finds inspiration everywhere she turns
by Lisa Traiger
Special to the WJW

Nefrit El-Or takes a breath and looks introspective when asked where her songs come from and how she writes them. "I don't really know. It sounds corny, but it's like all the artists say: I'm just a vessel ready for them to come out." She has a hard time pinpointing her inspiration because it's everywhere around her -- in the people she meets, in the rhythms she grew up with in her native Israel, in her personal relationships, in the natural landscapes of Israel and of Maryland where she now lives, and in the political climate in her adopted home in the United States and her homeland in Israel. El-Or is a rising singer/songwriter. At just 25, El-Or has found her artistic voice and is at work developing musically and professionally. She's lived in the United States only four years, but in that time she kicked off a solo career, released a CD and climbed the ropes learning self-promotion and marketing. The music business can be relentlessly difficult, but El-Or is determined to give it her best. To that end, she is slowly making waves on the local music circuit. "The opportunities are here in America," she says, with the unjaundiced glow of youth, "if you're persistent and you work hard. We're just trying to make it happen," she says of her modest band for which she sings and plays acoustic guitar, accompanied by drummer David Tyndale and bassist Matthew Eiland. This week, the trio will play the Washington DC Jewish Community Center's Washington Jewish Music Festival, opening for the New York-based Pharaoh's Daughter, a new-wave Middle Eastern ensemble, on April 22, in a program unabashedly titled Jewish Women Rock! The lanky singer with a swath of long, brown hair and a light spray of freckles across her nose was educated on Kibbutz Shaar Ha'amakim and Kibbutz Yifat, both not far from Tivon where her parents ran a nursery school. "I had a really great education there -- very open to the arts, music, nature. I remember once in the [animal pen] we saw a goat É giving birth from the windows, so we left the class and all went out to see it." As a child, El-Or studied recorder and piano and frequently sang and performed in school productions. She picked up a guitar at 11 and started writing songs soon after. Her language of choice is now English -- even as a youngster she wrote songs in "bad English," which today she laughs about. "I like the rounder, more open sounds in English," she says. "Hebrew is a beautiful language, very poetic and metaphorical, but I like the sound of English, the way it falls" on the ear. Enigmatic may best describe a great many of her lyrics, especially on her solo CD Maya Blue. There's the "Diary Circumstance": "Sleep Don't ask why Cold lines Just kneel/Mono place mono space I hear there was a crash/Somewhere in the worldÉ ." As challenging as the lyrics are, El-Or is reluctant to explain her songs. "The words, they just come to me. Sometimes it's just a title, sometimes it's the lyrics, but I never write anything before I have the music." Following a year of national service working in a kibbutz development, and playing in a basement band with a broomstick microphone, El-Or took a summer job at an American Jewish camp and decided to stay on in the United States. The time was right: She wanted to explore the music industry. "In Israel," she notes, "the country is so small and the opportunities are much more limited É here there's so much more music, so many more people who are open É to different styles." And, important for El-Or -- who didn't perform with an Israeli army musical unit, where many popular Israeli singers get their first breaks -- in the Washington area, numerous clubs offer open-mic nights where novices develop their craft. Currently she is collaborating with Tyndale and Eiland on a fuller, more expansive sound, multilayered and more rhythmically and musically complex. The three have their hopes set on playing larger venues throughout the East Coast. While she just released her first CD earlier this year, El-Or and her band are already at work on a second. In the meantime, between gigs and promoting her work, the budding singer/songwriter teaches guitar and music at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville, the YWCA and at Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Potomac. Her parents, Tamar and Saul, moved to New Market, Md., five years ago, where they now run a daycare business. For El-Or, things seem to be coming together. "I just try not to forget to be thankful for everything I have," she says. Nefrit El-Or will be onstage at the Jewish Music Festival at the DCJCC on April 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets, $12-$25, are available by calling 202-777-3208. She also will appear at Jammin' Java in Vienna on May 20. For information, call 703-255-1566. For more information on Nefrit El-Or, visit www.nefritel-or.com.
Lisa Traiger writes frequently on the performing arts - Washington Jewish Weekly



THE WASHINGTON POST , Friday, January 23, 2004; Page WE06

NEFRIT EL-OR "Maya Blue" Independent
NEFRIT EL-OR "Maya Blue"Independent

"Maya Blue" a curious collection of acoustic folk-pop ballads by Israeli-born, Washington-based singer-songwriter Nefrit El-Or, keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Allusive and elliptical, at times intriguing, at times exasperating, her songs will leave you guessing or humming -- or perhaps both. But first, El-Or will likely draw you in with her willowy voice, a soprano that never rises far above a whispered confidence. It's a tone well-suited to confessional ballads, not to mention the dreamy, acoustic guitar-centered atmospherics that El-Or and her bandmates frequently conjure, but no one will confuse the songs on "Maya Blue" for standard issue soul-baring. Take, for example, "Escape Velocity," a lover's tale of despair, in which parting isn't sweet sorrow so much as a flight plan: "I'll just find my way out / The moon is probably not that far / So I'll just make it like I slept too long / To breathe you in / And now it's time / The engine's clean / I'll let you sit and calculate my escape velocity." "Invite Silence," another example of one of El-Or's more transparent lyrics about love, loss and leaving, introduces additional calculations: "Don't get me wrong / You have data entry / I'm not what you thought / Leading on I'm still alive."
Suffice to say that if El-Or has ever rhymed moon with June, there's not the slightest hint of it here. Yet what keeps most of her songs from sounding precious or ponderous is her flair for surreal wordplay and a series of swirling, soft-tint arrangements.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Thursday at IOTA.ץ To hear a free Sound Bite from Nefrit El-Or, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)
- HE WASHINGTON POST


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Still working on that hot first release.

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