Monday, July 9, 2012

Meet sound-artist/singer/guitarist/electronic-musician and performer/composer Dafna Naphtali

Dafna just landed in Berlin, but before she flew out, I nabbed her for a last minute over-the-phone interview.  I'd been wanting to interview Dafna for awhile.  I knew her first as a fellow parent at our respective kids' school, and then soon discovered that she been an experimental musician for the past 20 years, performing in venues all over the city:  Tonic, Roulette, Issue Project Room.  (On Friday, she is performing in Hamburg at Hochschule für Musik und Theater.)    Involved in experimental music since 1992/93, Robert Rowe, who came to NYU from MIT, exposed Dafna to "a lot of new stuff."  And then in 1995, Dafna become more earnest about it.  Before that, she told me, "I was in a rock band in New Jersey.  I thought of myself as a working musician, doing weddings, club dates.  I met peope when I came to NYU in 1990 who were doing cool improvised stuff.  I had sung 'Girl from Ipanema' one too many times. Going to Berlin--I don’t have a lot of work in the summer but I have gigs there.  I'm trying to make contacts for future things. And we want to know what it would be like for us if we were there in a more permanent way.  It’s closer to concerts that pay." 

This past May, a dream pf mine come true when Dafna AND Lara and Christian were on the same bill at Andrew Drury's Soup and Sound series.  Check out her website here.  And listen to the videos at the bottom of this post.  The second one is a performance with her hub, Hans.

1.  Are you in a Tight Place?  If so, what are you trying to do about it?  It's funny you should ask, because, today I have been:  a house trade that we thought was settled in Berlin turned out not to be.  Although I find my that first reaction to the fact that i don’t have a place to stay was “Oh, an adventure!”  And we are tight financially in general.  I could be a little smarter about how to make my current situation work.  I’m something of an optimist.  

2.  What do you want to get done this year?   I want and have been trying all year to mix and complete two/three large works.  I didn’t take or search for as many gigs as I would liked to have in order to accomplish this.  It’s daunting because there are technical issues involved in the work I want to do.  Technically, one of them was a commission from the American Composer’s Forum.  Everyone would have wee controllers.  Six people would be controlling bits of looping on their voice.  So this piece would be composed with parts that were improvised.  The other thing is for Guitarbot.  Musically and technically these are both big productions.  Producing them costs money.  Still, the most important thing I want to have by the end of the year is those two pieces mixed and have scores.  I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t finish it.  

3. What inspires you? Birds and bird songs.  If I need inspiration, I'll sit in nature, which is weird given that if I’m living in New York.  I love a good sunset or good clouds.  And not in a kitschy way. The other night I was walking in my neighborhood at sunset and there were these blue/pink clouds in the Eastern side of the sky and a bright moon right behind it and I was kicking myself because an IPhone camera won’t pick it up.  But then I met a guy who was talking pictures of the sky a block away and so I started talking to him and he ended up being a painter of clouds and told me about this great book on clouds.  Those kinds of things really inspire me.  

4.  What's your favorite legwear?  Besides none?  When I was doing legwear I had these crazy net stockings.  But I like leggings better than stockings.  Because I sing, I need something unrestricting.  I don’t need that kind of support because I can’t breath.  I also like textured things.


  1. I feel happy to have met Dafna at your Seder. I love her guitar accompaniment to the traditional songs.

  2. dafna, thank you so much for making an appearance on GITP!