A man from Israel trying to make it in this world as a solo artist. He has the heart and determination to succeed in his dreams. This is JIGI.
Photo by: Ohad Aridan
It's pronounced like "jiggy" while his first name is Maor. He lives in the city of Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in the country; however, that's not where he was born. Be'er Sheva is the name of the city where his life began, it seems as if he destined to become an artist at whatever cost.
Tel Aviv is a vivid and young city. There's tons of competition out there for a solo artist to make it. JIGI puts in the hard work needed to make it all happen for him. This didn't happen overnight. He believes in putting the work in and taking your time to perfect it. As of now, his album is done. You can stream a few singles on Spotify and other music platforms. Be on the look-out for the whole release as it is sure to be a great album.
I had a chat with JIGI recently all the way from Israel.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: What is the music scene like over there?
A: Insane music scene here in Tel Aviv. There is an inflation of bands here. Tons of musicians. It's really the only scene in Tel Aviv you can go to if you want to do art and actually make a living out of art. I don't want to say it's only happening here but it's definitely mostly happening in Tel Aviv. There's a lot of different things. A lot of hip hop going on here, a lot of rock and indie. I used to work at a rehearsal studio and there were a lot of metal bands. It's a really cool scene here.
Q: Does making music go against any family traditions?
A: When I was 18 I told my mom I was going to be a musician and she told me it was the biggest disappointment she could get from me. She was really depressed about it until recently when I finished the album and she actually heard it and said 'okay, it's not that bad.' Now all my mom's friends text her saying that they are hearing me on the radio out here, it's nuts. So I know she's okay with it now. Before that though she was giving me hell. I mean, most of my life I've always wanted to be a musician. And I'm a single child of hers.
Q: Is the radio station you get played on over there a big radio station or is it more independent?
A: It's a big radio station. We got like 3 big stations and this is one of them. It's actually the one I wanted to be a part of. They play my music like 4 times a day, it's incredible. I wasn't expecting it. They declined my first single, the second single they were considering it for like 3 weeks. Eventually it got in though.
Q: Is that the station you grew up listening to?
A: Oh yeah. I used to work at a radio station, I was a technician and a broadcaster. I wouldn't listen to the station I worked at even if you paid me to. It's a horrible station, horrible music. The one where they play my music you have to check out. They are really open to music from all over the world. That's really the one I wanted to be a part of the playlist.
Q: At what age did you know you wanted to start making music and what inspired it?
A: My mom bought a Chili Peppers record for like my 8th birthday. She got me a Sony Walkman, those portable ones. I think it was 2000, and I just remember pressing the start button and "Around the World" began playing with Flea's baseline. I was really blown away by it. I didn't really want to be a musician, yet I remember when I was 12 in junior high a girl came up to me and said "why do you always have a fucking Walkman with you, what's going on with you, why do you listen to music so much?" I didn't really relate to that attitude.
My dad bought me a guitar when I was like 13 because my grandpa died and he wanted to get me something to keep me distracted I guess, but I didn't really start playing guitar till I was about 21. I was in a band though since I was 15. We were playing together for 5 years till they kicked me out. Even though it was a band that I started. *laughs* From then on I was just working on projects. Nobody wanted to take me in or take me serious. It's funny because a lot of people who didn't want to have anything to do with me, now want me to come back and do stuff for them.
I'm just really into my own project. I've put everything into it, tons of money for recording the album. I didn't go to a university or anything I was just making music the whole time. Sort of a late bloomer I guess when it comes to playing the piano and guitar. I was in the army for 3 years at one point. I wanted to influence people, make them feel good just like when I listen to music. That's the thing that's driving me every day when I wake up.
Q: Before the global pandemic, were you playing a lot of shows locally?
A: I was supposed to go out for a tour, right now I was supposed to have about 10 gigs lined up. It's not a lot but Israel is a small place so it's a lot over here for a small indie artist. There's nothing going on at the moment. I actually didn't have too many as of late anyway because I was in a motorcycle accident last year. I was supposed to release the album last year and the accident happened like 2 weeks before I was going to release the first single. I broke my leg and I was home for about 8 months. I believe everything happens for a reason though, it's for the best.
Then the Chili Peppers announced they were doing a show here in Israel and I started a campaign so I can be an opening band. 800 people joined it. The production company didn't care about me, so I decided to pop into their office with a marching band playing music and making noise. I did it and they were super impressed by it and actually offered me a spot on the festival here in Israel at one of the stages. I won't be playing right before them but I did manage to get on the same festival which is great.
Q: What kind of music comes out abroad from Israel the most?
A: There are a few bands who have had hit singles. Mostly in Europe. Asaf Avidan is one. Super talented guy, I've met him a few times. He just has a gift with that voice. I don't know where this music will take me in life. I know in Israel there isn't that much I can do with my music. The ceiling is super low in the indie music scene. You can do pretty big things but it's so small so you can do one big show a year in front of like 3,000 to 4,000 people but the rest of the time only in small venues and stuff like that.
There's more room for growth in the states. In Israel if you aren't part of the mainstream you can't make a living. In the states there's so many different sub-cultures you can make a living not being in the mainstream. You can make progress as a musician if you aren't like Justin Beiber big or something. I believe I'll have my come up when my time comes, I believe in my journey.
Q: How much of the album have you released so far?
Photo by: Ohad Aridan
A: I've only released two singles. Not the whole thing yet because I feel like I'll lose momentum. My plan is to put out 6 singles then I'll put out the entire album. It'll probably be at the end of this year or maybe the beginning of next year. It's going to take it's time for sure. I'll be releasing my next single around the middle of May because we need to shoot a music video for it.
We need to see how we can shoot that with everything that's going on right now. It's a lot of work to put out a single and make it work. You need to submit it to all the Spotify playlists, to different blogs and make a lot of noise for it. I worked really hard on all of it, so I'm trying to build it up the right way and take my time to make the most out of it.
A lot of artists don't want to take the time to do the business part of it all. They just want to make the music. You have to know how to market yourself because it's a big part of it. Unless you're lucky and just make it big out of nowhere like Billie Eilish. She definitely had a lot of more advantages than others.
Q: Do you know of any fans of your music in the states or anywhere else in the world outside of Israel?
A: I haven't been connected to any fans really but I did see my analytics and I saw that I got into a few playlists by people from Phoenix and Los Angeles which is cool. I didn't really try to reach out much to those places. Most of the Ads I put on Facebook are for Israel mainly because I want to build an audience here to be able to put on shows out here. You can't really go out abroad until you conquered your home state or home city. You gotta start from somewhere.
I did go out to the states a few years ago to try to make connections with someone from out there in 2015. I had my demos with me and different copies. Nothing really came out of it, it was extremely hard. So I came back to Israel to really start working on my album. I have a manager who I told I wanted to go abroad because I know my music is good but he told me people are going to ask like what did I do in Israel and you'd be like 'nothing' so how can you be big anywhere else if you aren't big here.
Q: Do you provide all the sounds on your album or do you branch out to other artists.?
A: Most of it, yes. I worked on the production except for one song. I worked with a producer in his studio back in my hometown. It was both of us on all the sounds except the drums, we had his brother. I'm currently in my home studio working on the second album already and so far it's just been me working on the whole thing alone. I don't know yet what will happen with this one.
Q: Where did Jigi come from?
A: It came from a Moroccan slang. It was an old band name also. I was struggling about my name coming up on my own. I thought about just using my actual name Maor but it didn't really feel right. I felt good to the name Jigi and real connected to it. So I went with it.