The gifted NYC duo talks about the band and how they communicate musically, their forthcoming new album, what it’s like to be working musicians in New York, and more. Also check out our exclusive live-in-studio video, below, as well as some choice audio that the band kindly provided.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Dadalon are a New York jazz group that I happened to catch by pure happenstance a few weeks ago on the Lower East Side. When they took the stage, their music immediately resonated somewhere deep in my soul. Alon Albagli, guitarist for the group, sounds like a young Bill Frisell, creating heightened states of awareness with his cyclical looped guitar work that builds and builds until there’s an intense emotional payoff for the listener. Daniel Dor, drummer and keyboardist for the group, is able to infuse a rhythmic playfulness into each song that is both supportive of Alon’s guitar playing and propulsive at the same time. The music is an intimate conversation between two friends that is beckoning for you to join in.
Check out “D Major” courtesy Dadalon, who have provided the track as an exclusive to Blurt:
Indeed, it’s the conversational aspect of the music, cut with a euphoric dreaminess, that had the crowd at the Rockwood Music Hall mesmerized and in a state of positivity. Over the next few days, this feeling that I’d come across NYC’s best kept secret was hard to shake, so I took it upon myself to interview the group and film a few numbers out at their studio in Brooklyn for Blurt readers.
I guarantee you’ll be hearing a lot about these guys in the future. For now, check out the video below; the interview follows immediately afterwards. For more info on the band, visit their Facebook page.
Dadalon: Live at Vibramonk Studios in Brookly, Feb. 15, 2018
BLURT: When and where did your band first get together (how did you guys meet)?
Daniel: We met at a Jazz workshop back in Israel when we were kids, then met again 10 years after at The New School University. We’ve been making music ever since, and DADALON was born in 2016 as a way of taking our friendship into a more intimate musical [project].
What made the two of you decide as young kids to join a jazz camp?
Daniel: We were both huge jazz nerds growing up, these workshops were profoundly educational, they were an opportunity for us to study with some of the musicians we admired.
Why a duo?
Alon: Daniel and I have a similar taste in music and a really close friendship for so many years. When he asked me if I want to do something together it was clear that it will be a duo project. That way instead of hanging out all day anyway, we might as well write some music and play shows just the two of us. We were led by a strong feeling that this is worth pursuing.
Stylistically, which artist or artists have had the greatest influence on your playing style?
Daniel: As far as playing with DADALON is concerned, one of my main ideas was to keep a punk rock quality to the playing, and not having it be lost to and become cerebral. Besides a long list of Jazz drummers that I’m inspired and influenced by, such as Jack Dejohnette, Jorge Rossy and Justin Brown, there other a lot of other artist which I wish to capture their essence in some way, like Kristian Matsson, Tom York, Adrianne Lenker, Mozart, Bach, etc. I wouldn’t presume to actually know what they are really about, but the impression these people leave on me is profound, so I wish I could play drums like they sing or write.
Where are both members from? In what ways has this influenced the band’s musical sensibility?
Daniel: I’m from Tel-Aviv, and Alon is from a suburb nearby. Tel-Aviv has a very diverse musical environment, as cosmopolitan as the city itself. Perhaps that is the reason why when I think of DADALON’s influences, there are about a hundred different styles of music that come to my mind.
Why and when did you guys leave Israel? How did the two of you end up in NYC of all places? Did you come here at the same time?
Daniel: Alon moved to NY in 2008 and myself in 2010. I imagine we probably left for similar reasons. Mine had to do with a need to expand musically, as well as learning new things in general. Back in Tel-Aviv, every street already had at least 30 stories attached to it, and so familiar narratives which I had about myself were hard to let go of. It was as if I was constantly reminded of who I am and where I’m from. I prefer leaving these questions more open, so a career that involves traveling made sense, as well as relocating somewhere so diverse like New York. Jazz music was the trigger as far as choosing New York as a new home, but I believe the underlying reasons were more emotional and [still] to be discovered.
What bands have you played in prior to Dadalon?
Alon: I worked with artists such as Ari Hoenig, J.views, Daniel Zamir, Janelle Kroll, and many more. Daniel has played and toured with Avishai Cohen Trio, Matisyahu, John Patitucci, Yotam Silberstein and more.
How would you classify the music you create?
Daniel: I’m sure there’s a chord we can find that’ll answer this question better than I can. I’m thinking of a D major7(add4).
What’s on your turntable as we speak?
Alon: Lately we have been listening a lot to Big Thief (Capacity), Frank Locrasto (Locrasto) , as well as “Vaporwave” artists such as ESPRIT. I’ve also been obsessed with the Brad Mehldau solo piano music (10 Years Solo Live).
Alon, what sort of guitar do you play? Can you tell us how you came up with your rig set up?
Alon: I play a Gibson ES 335 from 1979, have been using it for a while and it works really well for DADALON cause of its big sound and a lot of low mid-range. For the pedal board I had to come up with a set up that allows me to play low bass parts and looping options. Most of the interesting sounding effects come from the Eventide H9 and the Helix LT by Line-6 and combinations of both, using presets that I’ve build over time.
You have a new album coming out; where was it recorded and who produced? Will it be self-released or on a label?
Daniel: Yes, we have an album coming out really soon. It was recorded at Vibromonk Studios in Brooklyn. We both produced it, and it will be self-released.
When will the album be officially released and will it be for sale on Bandcamp?
Alon: The CD will be coming out mid-March, and it will be up on sale on BandCamp, iTunes, and [other platforms].
What did you guys release prior to this?
Daniel: This is the first time we both release an album under our own name, although we both play on other artists’ recordings. For example, Alon can be heard on Jviews’s The DNA Project or Yacine Boulares’ Ajoyo, and I can be heard on Avishai Cohen’s From Darkness, NOA’s Love Medicine (alongside the great Pat Metheny) or Yotam Silberstein’s upcoming album, which I just recorded on!
Tell us about some of the individual songs and the musical direction you were aiming for on the new record? Is it just the two of you or were there other musicians called into record?
Daniel: For me, the first song on the album, “D Major” (listen to it at the top of this page), sets the album on a path filled with mountains, valleys, wormholes, and a bunch of love making. The bridge of “D Major,” which leads to the final chorus, was originally part of a song that I wrote for my mom’s last record, so childhood feels like a big part of this first album. Creating music that feels intimate has been an aspiration of mine throughout this whole process, bringing people into my room in Brooklyn, my last breakup, my dreams, the things I’ve lost and the things I found that meant something to me. I trust Alon with all of these, and so much more. While I know our [intention] is to create music that feels inclusive, it felt right to have no one else involved in the writing/arranging process. The only collaborators on this album are Nate Wood, who mastered the album, and Jacob Bergson, who mixed it.
Have you guys toured outside NYC?
Alon: We’ve toured Israel on our last visit, and [our] first international tours are being coordinated as we speak.
Who are some kindred bands either here in NYC that you have an affinity for?
Daniel: Luckily, we are a part of a few different musical scenes here in New York, so we affiliate ourselves with lots of Jazz artists, as well as new Folk artists, Vaporwave artists and Drone Music. Our current NYC heroes are my friends from Big Thief, the wonderful Joanna Sternberg, the amazing Nitai Hershkovits, and others.
What’s the hardest thing about being a band in NYC?
Alon: There are not as many places to play as one would think. We’ve decided to have one venue we call home, called Rockwood Music Hall, and play there monthly. That way we can come up with new stuff between each show and experiment. It also keeps it interesting for us in regards to trying out different set lists and songs.
There’s an emotional directness to your music, that I found easy to connect with and yet it ended up stirring all of these complex emotions in me. Is this a common reaction that people have to your music?
Daniel: Thank you, I’m glad the music resonated with you. One of the things that meant the most to me so far while performing with DADALON has been the similarity I noticed between how I felt while writing my part of this music and the feedbacks we’ve been getting. To my ears, what you’re describing about your own experience sounds very similar to my experience throughout the writing process, which took place at a time when the idea of writing music that’s compassionate is something I wanted to consider. I want to be able to be direct and emotionally available in music, and not be manipulative. Stirring people’s feelings is a very sensitive subject, so I try to take that very seriously when we play, and feel like Alon is an amazing partner in that regard as well.
I found it pretty intense seeing the two of you communicate musically on stage, tweaking a knob hear and freeing up a hand to play the keyboard, while using the other hand to keep the beat. What’s it like performing where you have so much to control and think about at the same time while trying to harness your emotions?
Alon: We rehearse as much as possible because we wanted to get to that exact point, where we don’t have to think about it and just play and feel the music. As part of our practice session, we’ve just been repeating the same parts many times until we had enough of it, drank some water and then did some more of it.
What do you guys hope to accomplish in 2018?
Daniel: In 2018, I hope to continue writing and developing our repertoire, as well as exploring more ambient musical journeys, which we’ve been delving into in the past few months. The idea of real-time ambient compositions speaks to us both. Also, getting our debut CD out so it can be shared by more people is another goal for 2018.
Below, watch a brief clip of the band performing last year in Tel Aviv.