Nefrit El-Or
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Nefrit El-Or

Bethesda, Maryland, United States

Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Band Alternative Rock

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“A folk-rock singer-songwriter in the tradition of Suzanne Vega and Ani DeFranco, El-Or has busied herself with getting to know the D.C. area since arriving from her native Israel only four years ago. What some local musicians see as an evaporating watering hole, the music scene appears through El-Or's zeal to hold nothing but opportunities. In just a short time, she has made inroads appearing at venues from the 9:30 club (opening for the internationally known, modern world-music quintet Esta) to the Lincoln Theater (during the Washington Jewish Film Festival) and is a recurring act at popular suburban neighborhood hangouts like the Luna Park Grill and Summit Station.
Maybe it's just a different perspective on life that enables El-Or to open doors in Washington while some moan that they have it so rough. That same out-of-the-ordinary point of view could be what gives a fresh flavor to her music. Two of her most compelling works -- "Collider," which she describes as "a harmless song obsessing about drugs," and "Eye for an Eye," a story about "how people give and take in a relationship, expectations they have from each other" -- can be heard on her MP3 band page.”
Maria Villafana- washingtonpost.com/MP3 Producer
- Maria Villafana- washingtonpost.com/MP3 Producer


Music Monthly
Grab Bag
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


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.
- Music Monthly


Four Play

Nefrit El-Or
www.nefritel-or.com
Since moving to the D.C. area from her native Israel nearly four years ago, twenty-four year old singer/songwriter Nefrit El-Or has immersed herself in the metro region's music scene. She has been a featured artist at D.C.'s Art-O-Matic Festival, performed at the Lincoln Theater for the Washington Jewish Film Festival, showcased at the Dewey Beach Music Conference and recently branched out to Baltimore, performing at Johns Hopkins University as part of a Power to the People rally with Ralph Nader. El-Or also donated her time to perform at the Baltimore Austin Grill in July, as part of their Save the Bay Festival, celebrating the chain's conversion to wind power. A recent Editor's Pick on WashingtonPost.com/mp3, where her songs show up frequently on the site's Top 50 Downloads list, El-Or is about to release her debut CD, Maya Blue. El-Or continues to play regularly around the Washington area and recently put together a band, which has, according to her, "opened another path for the music." In early July, El-Or and her band played before a packed house at Arlington's Iota Club and Café, sharing the bill with Chrissy Coughlin, Suzanne Brindamour and Ilyaimy.
- On Tap Magazine


For Israeli-born Nefrit El-Or, music is in her blood. With her first EP "Maya Blue", Ms. El-Or proves that she's not just another "chick"...from writing to singing to playing acoustic guitar, she knows what she's doing, and it shows.Musically, this EP is solid, clean, and well executed. Meandering bass lines, tight guitar work, ethereal keyboard accompaniment , rolling drums, and a well-placed flute ("The Moon's Blue Hole") all add up to a nice collection of tracks.Of note are Ms. El-Or's vocal stylings. This woman can sing! Her vocals could be compared to Jewel, Natalie Merchant, or Hope Sandoval, but with repeated listenings, she shows that she has her own unique style. There is no screechy, "fingernails-on-the-blackboard"-type crooning here. Accessible lyrics are delivered with beauty and honesty.The only problem I could find with "Maya Blue" is that it was way too short. With only three tracks, I was left wanting more. With a full-length CD in production, hopefully I won't have to wait too much longer. - Signal Fading


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, 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
- The Washington Post



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 "Maya 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.
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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 ready. We wanna do it. [Maya Blue is] a proj - 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 Week


Eclipse Magazine- 2003
By Jason Bunyan

Labeling Nefrit El-Or as alternative folk rock is probably about as accurate as you’re going to get on a first attempt. As of now, they would probably be located on the shelves that contain 10,000 Maniacs, Jewel, Ani DiFranco, or Edie Brickell, but while they may have been influenced by these kinds of artists, their material possesses an informed, rather than misappropriated sound. And, grand propositions aside, the band is just too new to be pigeonholed just yet.

The five-month old female fronted trio, named after its Israeli lead singer/songwriter, has a sound that is at once identifiable, yet versatile enough to enable Nefrit (vocals/lead guitar), Dave Tyndale (drums), and Matt Eiland (bass) to create a variety of aural experiences that are at once earthy, driving, and modern. Each song played in their T.T. Reynolds set in the last week of April was a realized structure that contained at least two arrangements which were accentuated with strategically placed breakdowns and exchanges between rhythm and bass, some of which were predetermined, and others that were improvised.

The music is harmonically surprising, sometimes outright tricky, and gaining a full understanding of the verses will require repeat listens. Even then, the meaning of some of the lyrics is strictly a matter of interpretation. As is the case with artists like Seal or Bjork, Nefrit’s songs address specific topics, often in a holistic fashion. In the process, states of mind and motives are touched upon – self-delusion, arrogance, denial, and love. Musically it’s a lot to take in, and the vocals aren’t easy, which is partially attributable to the sound systems and acoustics you encounter in most bars, but is also a result of the complexity of the compositions.

Flood Water, for example, opens without a rhythm. The drums and bass play in order to establish an ambient feeling within which Nefrit plays rapid, lyrical acoustic guitar. The band then moves into an arrangement featuring heavy drums and more extended strings, at which time Nefrit delivers a half spoken, half sung spiky stream of lyrics that describe the feeling of being overwhelmed by daily life. On Collider, which is more straightforward, Nefrit’s sings airy, extended lines that are accentuated with a mild vibrato at the close of her phrases. At the close of the song, Matt Island placed distortion on his bass, cut loose and shredded the close of the song with a stream of interrelated riffs and atonal progressions.

Nefrit moved to the United States three years ago, began writing and playing songs at age 11. Once in the States, she continued to work solo for nearly three years, until she became interested in the prospect of collaborating with other musicians. “[Meeting Dave] was a blessing,” she reflected, “because it was it was the first call that I made, and it worked out.” Later, when Matt joined and the trio was formed, she would learn that Dave and Matt had actually known each other before they knew her. From there, the different elements seemed to click. “I’m totally in love [with the band]. I’ve been solo for the past three years, and it’s completely different…[it’s] like two different kinds of chocolates.”

Dave and Matt have disparate influences, but both are well rounded. Among others, Dave cited Pink Floyd, Mother’s Finest, and Rush as influences. Matt identified Radiohead and Jeff Buckley, and also enjoys jazz and rap. What they share is the desire to treat material tastefully through tactical, yet spontaneous approach to what’s happening around them. Their ability to create on the spot is evident in their non-verbal interaction on stage. “I aim to enhance what is going on around me. If you want to play well, you’ve got to drop your ego, drop your volume, and take a backseat,” Dave said. “You have to start and finish strong,” Matt added. “My main goal is to not overplay while making it interesting, and to have fun.”

What makes Nefrit El-Or promising is that it seems that they are going to be welcome to change, even at the point that they’ve settled in and have been together for a longer period of time. When we had run through the main set of questions, Nefrit touched on the prospect of introducing electric guitar as a fixture in the band, as well as collaboration with emcees from the Metropolitan area. “We are growing and changing all the time, striving to improve, and we’re trying to keep open minded,” Nefrit said.

- Eclipse Magazine


Discography

2003- Collider (EP)
2004- Maya Blue (full length album), nominated for 2004 Wamies award for “Best Debut Album”
2012- From Greater Heights (full length album)

Photos

Bio

Nefrit El-Or

A musician at heart and author at soul, a street-side philosopher and an adept storyteller, a professional dreamer and an inventor of things - Nefrit El-Or is everything but conventional.

Born in Israel, Nefrit grew up in a kibbutz- the stomping ground of her youth, where everyday life centered around art, imagination, nature and music- it was a milieu of inspiration that nourished future aspirations.

Nefrit’s last 11 years have been highlighted by creating and recording 3 music albums, touring with her band, and writing short, unconventional stories (both in Hebrew and in English) while also working on two novels.

Nefrit has recently finished her 3rd album, From Greater Heights, which includes fan favorites “Beautiful Lies”, “Pretend”, “Bullet”, “Shiver”, and the title track, “From Greater Heights”. Her debut album, Maya Blue, has gotten raving reviews at the Washington Post, Music Monthly, and other papers. Nefrit was also nominated for Wammie awards (Washington Area Music Association prize ceremony) in “Best Rock Instrumentalist”, “Best Debut Album”, and “Best Rock Album”.

Nefrit has performed in a wide spectrum of top-notch venues, festivals and conferences and her songs were aired at multiple radio stations.

Nefrit has also concluded her work on a multi-cultural fictional novel called Blahndo, which shifts between present and past and is reminiscent of the movie Big Fish in its use of exaggerated memories, a young-adult novel named Foreverwhere, which is a cross between Alice In Wonderland and Willy Wonka, and a collection of young adult, ‘Dr. Seuss meets Shel Silverstein’ short stories (both in Hebrew and in English) which Nefrit also illustrated, called Shiny Tiny Little Things.

Today, Nefrit hopes to establish herself as a world-class musician and author, and to reach as wide of an audience as possible with her unique creations by placing her music on major films and commercials, in writing material for major artists, and in taking her music as far as possible. She hopes to publish her manuscripts and illustrations through major publishers.