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Backstage with: Tali Rubinstein

BACKSTAGE WITH: TALI RUBINSTEIN | TALI RUBINSTEIN MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY | FEATURED IMAGE BY: MOR KATZMAN

Main influences on making music?

My most significant musical influences are my beloved teachers over the years: Bracha Kol, who I’ve studied with for about 20 years and taught me everything from the very basic techniques to finding my own musical expression in music. 

Ilan Salem who introduced me to jazz and improvisation at Rimon School in Israel, Alain Mallet who taught me several courses at Berklee College in Boston and encouraged me to write and perform my own music, and Javier Limon, also my former professor at Berklee, who threw me in at the deep end (in the very best sense) asking me to compose and arrange for several projects and pushing me further to explore new musical genres and original endeavours.

Tali Rubinstein in Bar

Photography by Dror Pikielny 

Most appreciated and innovating artists in the NY Scene?

I absolutely LOVE Iris Lune – I am their number one fan! We’ve all been really good friends since our days at Berklee College. I was lucky enough to play with all of them in different settings, including my own band. Not only are they all of them masters of their own craft, together they create the most sensitive and intricate music which has an addictive quality to it. Every note and every sound is thought out to the smallest detail.


Being a dedicated fan, I received a special perk: I get to be with their handsome drummer 24/7 and he cannot leave the house 😉

How did you start playing the recorder? What are the challenges in playing the instrument?


I began playing the recorder when I was seven years old in school, just as many kids do. I assume my parents sent me to recorder class as an introduction to music. They probably figured that if I liked playing music, I’d later change to a different instrument, like piano or violin. This has yet to happen.

I am still challenged by playing the recorder – I feel like I have only begun to unravel what this instrument can do. 

There are a few technical challenges in playing contemporary music on the recorder, which is what I mostly do nowadays. Since the recorder is modeled after a 16th century instrument, it does not lend itself easily to certain keys, ranges, and volumes. 

These challenges have been keeping me preoccupied for the past years, searching for ways to overcome the limitations in order to incorporate the beautiful sound of the recorder into music that wasn’t written for it and could not have been imagined at the time.

Best ways to reach an audience for new artists?


This is the one million dollar question for any artist and the thing that people most struggle with. Most of us enter the professional world with lots of knowledge and experience in music, but little to no knowledge in promotion. 

From my experience it’s totally random – you have no control over how many people will be exposed to your music and how many of them will like it. The only thing you can do, really, is dare to put it out there, and let it do its thing. Of course it’s good to have a visual component and to use all social media tools and platforms, but above all, consistency and fearlessness are key.

Tali Jams New York | Web Series | Official Trailer to full series featured on YouTube

What would be your tips on connecting with other musicians that you want to collaborate with?

Nowadays, connecting with musicians you admire is probably the easiest it’s ever been (unless they are ultra famous). I’ve looked up numerous musicians I like on Facebook, and most of them are awesome people who are genuinely looking for new ideas and initiatives. 

I think the hardest thing is coming up with an idea for a concrete project, and following up on it. Often times I would have a great idea for a collaboration, but later on be swamped with work and completely forget about it, or just lose confidence. Other times, I could really want to make music with someone, but not have a good enough “excuse”. Daring and executing will get you a long way.

What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?

After I release the current album I’m working on, I want to record myself at home and learn some new techniques for using computer software with my recorders. Also, I have a long time dream of recording a Stevie Wonder tribute album…

 

Best ways to book gigs in 2020? What are your favorite venues and why?

Right now – online… 

In normal times I would say connecting with people you know and reaching out to new ones. There are no shortcuts here unfortunately. Booking is real hard work, a tedious task with not much creativity or fun to it. People who do best at it are usually ones who have a good system for connecting with many people at once, keep lists of all the interactions, follow up and don’t get offended by rejections. I think it’s great if you can find someone to collaborate on this with – it makes it more like a game and helps you distance yourself from it a little. Also, needless to say, releasing new material online often helps getting gigs. 

I think that at least 50% from the projects I’ve done are a result of people watching my videos on Youtube.


My favorite two venues I got to perform at recently are Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club (NYC) and Amsterdam’s Blue Note. Both venues are stunning, perfectly balanced acoustically, and in each of the venues the sound engineer did an amazing job and was extremely fun to work with . 

Photography by Noam Galai

How did you react to showing up on Barack Obama’s Favorite Songs of 2018 list?

It absolutely came out of nowhere. That morning I didn’t turn on my phone until around noon when I was heading to a work meeting with two friends. When I finally turned it on, I realized I have many more new messages than usual, and I saw someone tagged me in Obama’s list. 

It took me a few hours to fully realize it’s not just a post, or as my good friend put it – “Do you get what this means? It means that he and Michelle sat down in their living room, drank wine and listened to the song, and this happened more than once”. 

That day I told every Uber driver that I made it on that list, but none of them seemed to care much. Brooklyn drivers are hard to impress.


Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?

Yes – don’t treat it as business! It is a business anyway. Your job is to find how you can maintain the business side: grow your audience and exposure, book shows and recordings, strengthen your connections and build your brand, without losing the sense of why you’re doing it. 

This is the paradox of being a musician – it makes absolutely no sense on the business side, but it makes all the sense in the world otherwise. The reason it is a business is that in order to dedicate your life to it you have to make enough money to be free to do so. That said the only way to create music is to very frequently forget it and reconnect with your initial passion, curiosity and excitement. 

What is your advice for young music makers and producers who would like to turn their art into a business?

This is a very small technical piece of advice, but if you haven’t done so yet, I would recommend that you start writing your bio, portraying your background and accomplishments in a professional way. The process of listing all your achievements might feel a little uncomfortable, but you’ll need a good bio for almost everything you do, whether it’s a show, a festival application, an email to an important promoter, etc.

Apart from that: dare to dream, be courageous and experimental in your approach, trust your instincts, and tend to say YES to opportunities that come your way, even if you’re not 100% sure you can make it happen. It’s the only way to guarantee you will 🙂

Tali Rubinstein Coney Island, NY

Photography by Noam Galai