Israeli music pioneers Teapacks perform at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre May 14 (photo from Teapacks)
“We will bring a lot of Mediterranean happiness, with a lot of Jewish chutzpah,” Israeli singer-songwriter Kobi Oz told the Independent about Teapacks’ upcoming concert here on May 14. The event at Queen Elizabeth Theatre is the culmination of the community’s many Israel @ 75 celebrations.
Teapacks will sing about 30 of their hits, spanning their more than 30 years of composing and performing. Plus, said Oz, there will be many “duets with our fabulous female lead vocalist Shani Yizhari, one Arik Einstein cover, one Moroccan song and our version of Hatikvah.”
Teapacks was established some 35 years ago. Named after the correction fluid Tipp-Ex, Oz has explained the choice to be related to the band’s aim to “erase boundaries between people,” but the English transliteration of the name was changed relatively early on to Teapacks to avoid infringing on the trademark. (The Hebrew remains the same.)
Oz and Gal Peremen (bass) are founding members, and Rami Yosifov (guitar) is basically one, too. The rest of the band is Yizhari (vocals), Motty Joseph (drums), Shahar Yampolsky (accordion and synthesizer) and Adam Mader (violin, mandolin, flute and trumpet).
“We are good friends,” Oz told the Independent. “Playing in a band like ours is like riding a bike – you cannot unlearn it. We are like a mobile circus, very different from each other but something funny and worth dancing is always happening when we start making music together.”
Teapacks is credited by many as having led the way in making Middle Eastern music popular in Israel.
“Teapacks is basically a get-together of three kibbutz members from the northern Negev, with me from Sderot, a small town populated with Israelis who made aliyah from Morocco,” Oz explained. “From the start, we tried to make music that would go with each other’s taste – I brought the rai [Algerian folk] music influence and they came with rock and Israeli folk. Mizrahi Oriental music was ‘underground music’ and wasn’t played on the radio as often as it should be. Teapacks offered a sound that was suited to ’90s playlists, with refreshing ethnic lines and sound – Teapacks opened the door to [Israeli singer] Sarit Hadad with two smash hit duets.”
Oz said the band “started as a funny electronic pop band. With time, we became more acoustic, with social awareness messages, incorporating an elegance – accordions with oud and rock beats.
“We were pioneers in Israeli hip-hop from 1992, but our 1999 Disco Menayak album was filled with sampled tracks from old Israeli vinyl [recordings],” he said. “Our last three albums are all about blending these styles and creating the right balance between electronic and acoustic instruments, hip-hop and Israeli and North African folklore.”
About performing in the Diaspora for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Oz said, “I believe the Jewish people is one big cultural fabric, in Israel and all over the world. We know that music is a great way to celebrate this deep connection. For us, it’s like singing for our families. A lot of politicians are trying to tear us apart, inside and outside Israel. We believe that our music is the right dance floor for a lot of people longing to be together.”
The concert event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 14 starts at 6:30 p.m. The program will include the national anthems of Canada and Israel and a prayer for Israel by the Jewish day schools (Vancouver Hebrew Academy, Vancouver Talmud Torah and Richmond Jewish Day School). Local Israeli dance groups will perform, there will be a few speeches, a surprise video and Teapacks. The night’s emcees are honorary co-chairs Jonathan and Heather Berkowitz.
For tickets ($18 plus fees; children under 5 are free), go to jewishvancouver.com/israel75.