Israel-based Producer\Singer-songwriter\rapper and all around bad-ass, Adi Ulmansky whom we introduced back in July (here) had her first ever live performance at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. We were lucky enough to score a brief interview with the up-and-coming MC before her CMJ gig where we talked with her about, her killer new EP Hurricane Girl, her musical up-bringing, performing live and the struggles of being a female producer. Check it out!
NWP: So first time in NYC how does it feel?! Do you feel the culture shock yet?
You know new york is kinda like Tel Aviv. New York is bigger for sure and Tel Aviv is quite small, but it’s crowded, with a great night life. Its quite different when you live there, It’s so small and there are not a lot of opportunities [musically]… but for a vacation spot it’s amazing. The weather is just amazing.
It’s also your first time at CMJ are you excited?
Yeah it’s funny ’cause I didn’t know what to expect. People told me lots of things about CMJ, so I didn’t know how it would be. I got here and it’s like, tons of shows, my head is like…I don’t know where to go, what should I do. There are tons of artists. Actually, there are a few amazing gigs. I’m going to see Riff Raff! I can’t wait for his gig.
That’s awesome! He’s great! Aside from Riff Raff, have you had the chance to check out the NYC hip-hop scene?
I haven’t had the chance to yet, but tomorrow after my show will definitely hit some spots. And actually, just today I booked another gig for Friday in Brooklyn.
That’s fantastic, I will def be there!
So congratulations on Hurricane Girl it’s a great record. How was it working on your second EP? Did you find it easier or more challenging the second time around?
It’s funny because people all the time say that the second album or EP is harder because people expect things from you, you know? But actually, it was a lot more fun for me cause I think my first mixtape was kinda like, you know, just a bunch of songs that I needed to release.
I found the first EP [Shit Just Got Real] very experimental
Yes, it was. Yeah, you know, I needed to try new things then, and with Hurricane Girl I was more focused, I guess. And I did it in a short period. In just a few months actually. Everything just came together and feels real, you know, like one piece of work.
Hurricane Girl sounds a little darker and more hardcore lyrically than SHIT JUST GOT REAL, was that intentional?
Is funny because I went through a very hard time in my personal life while I was working on the EP, and I guess you can hear it in the lyrics. I really wanted to put everything that I’ve been through to the songs. I was like, I feel like shit but at least I can create good songs out of it, so that would be the best that I can get out of feeling so horrible. I think it was for about a year that it was really hard for me. And I think the song ‘Falling’ and ‘Was It You’; those are the songs that the lyrics are really expressing what I was going through.
I absolutely love ‘Falling,’ it’s such a great song; It has an R&B sound with a great Aaliyah vibe. It’s a highlight for me. And I think it shows your growth as a producer. Do you feel like you’re maturing musically as a producer?
Totally, I think the first round, mixing, was me trying to prove things I guess. I guess it was more childish. I just wanted to prove something, like, SEE! I’m a producer! I can do this, I can do that. And with the EP I was like, ok, I want to create things now that I feel and believe in, and not trying to be that past person. I guess that’s why it feels way more mature.
As a female producer do you feel like female producers get more or less recognition than male producers? or is it equal opportunity?
Well, there aren’t a lot of female producers that actually produce all of their own music. From the top of my head, other than Grimes I can’t think of other female producers out there. I mean, there are more out there I’m sure, but they don’t really get a lot of recognition. It’s definitely more hard for females because most of the time when I give someone a song to listen to they’re typically like; Did you do this? Did you mix this?! Are you serious? and I’m like why is it so hard to believe that a woman can make music. There is no difference. I know that is not that common but c’mon! It’s 2013! I guess that’s also one of my main goals, because people always tell me we can get you this producer and that producer and I’m like, ok, that would be nice to collab with a few other producers but I want to make my own music. That’s a big thing for me, it’s how I express myself.
You’ve been getting a lot of support from blogs but often they come with comparison with other artists like M.I.A, Brooke Candy and Nicki Minaj. Does that bother you at all or you take it as compliment?
You know, I can understand why people need to compare things. When they don’t understand something they have to put it in…in these boxes. Sometimes I feel like I just want to be me, I don’t want to be Die Antwoord, M.I.A, Grimes or whatever. I mean, I love them, I have lots of respect for them but I’m just trying to be who I am, and do something that is, I guess, a combination of all of these elements, you know? the rapping, the singing, the producing and then mixing it all together with my ethnic kind of elements, you know?
Absolutely. I think its what sets you apart. The Middle Eastern instrumentation and sounds are very recognizable on both EP’s, how important is it to keep that ethnic stamp in your music?
Is funny because when I first got to the UK for a very short tour, I was like, ok, maybe I shouldn’t say that I’m from Israel because a lot of people don’t like it, and I can totally understand why, but I don’t really feel that I’m a part of whatever it is that people see in Israel. But as long as I’ve met people, the fact that I’m Israeli was really unique for them, they were so curious of the fact that you know… some people think that we drive camels in Israel, and is funny ’cause is not like that at all [Laughs]
Right, some people have such a narrow view of other countries
Totally, and I feel like I just want to show the world that Israel is a cool country…along side all the political problems and everything that I’m not gonna touch…I just feel like, I really just want to be true to who I am. I was born there, I was exposed to a lot of ethnic music.
I think the instrumentation you use is very cool because It’s something you don’t really hear very often
Yes, and that’s the main thing you know, to come up with something that is unique and different and…new.
Absolutely. ‘Falling’ is a perfect example I think. At the beginning of the song it has a middle eastern sound, but then it transitions into a cool R&B song which I found very unique.
The main goal was to create this combination of you know, just take this elements and create something different. I mean how many R&B songs can you find with these ethnic elements. I mean, I’m sure I’m not the first one to do this for sure (laughs) but you know what I mean.
Now, I get a lot of rock vibes from the song ‘Work It’. A little Black Sabbath, maybe? Any rock influences that inspire you
I actually grew up as a rock metal kid.
Omg, me too! 80’s Hair Metal bands? I know them all!
Really?! Me too, totally! (laughs) yeah, so again, that ethnic element, you can’t really erase things that you listened to or that you been affected by. I’m not ashamed of the things I used to listen to. I grew up musically through all these music [genres]. I played the electric guitar for like 7 years. There are pictures of me playing the guitar on stage and all. And now it’s like kinda weird [Laughs] But you know, I think musically it kinda shaped me and it made me… there are a lot of electronic producers out there that are so boring because they were never really exposed to that kind of music.
So what is your favorite song from Hurricane Girl?
I think my favorite song is ‘Was It You.’ It’s funny because I think it was the last song I did for the EP. And is a downtempo, mellow song. I just think it’s a great song. You know, it was hard working on the EP because like I said, I went through a hard time, but it was a way for me to just let go. It was like going to a psychologist…like just letting it all out.
Let’s go back to [my favorite song] ‘Falling’. The song has a great video, the bleeding heart is great. Can you tell me a little bit about the making of the video?
I really wanted to make something very simple, we did it in my parents house (laughs) I actually just uploaded two behind the scenes videos. The whole floor was covered with plastic… I just wanted people to see ME, to feel me, just out there, one shot, no editing, well, almost, except for the effects. And [laughs] a friend of mine spilled all the red goo [blood] on me, it was so messy. At the end my mom saw me and she was like, What happened?!! I was like no, no, everything is cool! It was so funny. But yeah, I just wanted to do something cool and simple no big production. You know, it’s nice to have the big production videos as well, I’m working on a few others…there’s one for ‘Hurricane Girl’ that’s going to be out soon and another one for ‘Work It’ that’s going to be quite cool as well. It’s an animation video.
Can’t wait to see ‘Work It!’ I think it’s another excellent track from the EP.
You think so? thanks! I think live it works very well.
Yes! Is so energetic and hardcore!
Yes, and I guess the lyrics are kind of like… I’m angry… and in your face!
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Oh yeah, lots. But I think mostly rappers though. But I also dream to work with Frank Ocean and Tyler The Creator.
What about female artists?
Oh yes, Brooke Candy, Angel Haze etc.
Is there an artist that you call a favorite? One that you can go back to and listen to everyday?
Radiohead. They were always my band. I think for like ten years they were the only thing I listen to.
The funny thing about Radiohead is that they actually started as a rock band then they transitioned into the electronic realm.
And that’s what I like about them, they really try to reinvent themselves all the time, and that’s what makes them so interesting. I find it amazing that you can keep on changing and growing as an artist. They’re amazing.
You were recently in London performing live. How was the reception there?
The UK is so different than the US. The people there are way more judgmental, I think. They’re like standing in the gig and they look at you like this [makes judgmental face] they judge you, and you need to impress them, they are harder to satisfy, so it’s kinda hard, but I feel at home in London. I’ve been there lots of times for lots of gigs.
So you’re more used to the London scene?
I just understand how it goes, and I feel like you need to understand their mentality and know how to approach them. It’s really different…but in Israel as well…I’ve been to Prague as well and that was completely different too. Actually, Prague was one of the most amazing gigs I’ve had, ever. The crowd was so into it. I don’t even know if they knew me before, it was a festival so I was like ok, there were lots of people there, they never heard of me before, and they had no reason to be into it, but they were like, YEAHHHHHHH! That was so amazing.
Let’s talk about your third EP. Are you already working on one? Any thoughts on what sound direction you’d like to pursue?
Yes, I think I’m going on more of the melodic kind of vibe. More in the direction of ‘Falling’ and ‘Was It You.’ But I feel like, in the EP, there will be rap songs and melodic songs. My goal in my next EP, which I already started working on, is to cover both aspects together. Have both worlds in one song. That’s the main idea.
Are there any songs that didn’t make it on Hurricane Girl that you’d like to include?
There is one that didn’t get in, and that I kind of kept on working on and rewrote the lyrics and changed the whole production. So yeah, it will be in the next EP.
Will the third EP be your official “Debut” EP\Album?
The thing is that I’m waiting for my debut EP to be released properly. I’m not signed yet so I’m really hoping that to be the next step.
Well, Hurricane Girl is an outstanding and all around fun record. There is no doubt in my mind that it will happen soon.
Thank you so much!
**Thank you Adi for taking the time to talk to us! And thank you Tracey Hills from Brick London PR for setting up the interview.
Here is a video of Adi LIVE at Fat Baby NYC performing Hurricane Girl, Was It You and Falling. (Video is HD so adjust your YouTube player to 720HD) Enjoy!