Lider of the Pack
By Aaron Hicklin
Photography by Yaniv Edry
Ivri Lider wrote a love song to his favorite city and called it “Fuck Off Berlin.” It is, he says, a happy song in keeping with that city’s spirit of self-denigration. It is also an example of the Israeli pop star’s newfound sense of liberty since he formed TYP -- The Young Professionals -- with fellow Israeli musician Johnny Goldstein. Their single “TYP D.I.S.C.O,” which samples the hi-NRG 1980 Ottawan hit “D.I.S.C.O,” burned up the dance floors in Europe this summer, propelled by an infectious video starring Israeli drag artist Uriel Yekutiel. A second single, “Be With You Tonight,” has just been released in France, with a small U.S. tour scheduled for the end of the year.
For Lider -- whose solo career in Israel includes four gold- and two platinum-selling albums -- working with TYP is a change of pace. “It enables me to do something that I didn’t do in my own career, and that is to be a bit more trashy, a bit more direct,” he says.
Case in point: “Gucci Gun,” a meditation on online hook-ups, in which he sings, “Let’s go naked on the floor, just close the door and bring it on.” In “Dirty Pictures,” he promises to get creative with his camera: “I love it when you send me dirty pictures to my mail/ The room is full of people and I’m just smiling to myself,” he sings. “I’ll be going to the bathroom/ Return the favor, as they say.”
Lider wasn’t always this forward. In high school, the young basketball fanatic found it easy to fall in love with boys, but painfully difficult to make any moves. It wasn’t until he was 24 and already a successful musician that things changed -- but only after another guy made the first move. Coming out to his family was a breeze.
“I was living with my mom, and one evening I didn’t come home, and the next day she called from work and just said, ‘Is it a girl or a guy?’ I said, ‘It’s actually a guy,’ and she said, ‘Oh, cool, there’s pasta in the fridge.’ With my family, it was that easy.”
Although all the songs on TYP’s debut album, Nine to Five, Five to Whenever, are propelled by wall-of-sound synths and beats, dancing is not the only thing on the band’s agenda. Lider’s engagement with the popular protests that erupted across the world in the wake of Occupy Wall Street comes through in songs such as “Wake Up,” a paean to the street marches that closed down Tel Aviv last year. “It was the biggest demonstration I can remember -- we had tents in the main boulevard for a long time -- and I think it influenced some of the collaborative spirit of TYP,” says Lider, adding that Israel’s domestic politics are more fascinating to him than the long-running external conflicts that have defined the country’s image abroad, and which most Israelis feel powerless to change.
“These days, I’m much more interested in the internal politics,” he says, “which will of course affect the external politics of Israel -- I see a cultural war going on here between religious parties and those who are more Western-oriented and liberal.”
With glitter bombs like Nine to Five, Lider is putting himself squarely on the front lines of that fight.
Ivri Lider’s Tel Aviv Must List
Montefiore Bar and Restaurant: One of my favorite restaurants in Tel Aviv, on the ground floor of the Montefiore Hotel -- super good food and a cool bar with a very nice atmosphere. 36 Montefiore St.; HotelMontefiore.co.il
Yarkon Park: Next to the Yarkon river in the north of the city -- great for running or rowing, basketball, or just sitting next to the water. HotelMontefiore.co.il
Tazzo D’Oro: The best coffee in Tel Aviv is at this Neve Tzedek café with great, simple food. 6 Ehad Ha’am St.; TazzaDOro.rest-e.co.il
Tel Aviv Museum of Art: The new building is impressive inside and out. TYP had the privilege to perform at the opening ceremony. 27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd.; TAMuseum.com
One Bike Studio: A single-speed bike store in Tel Aviv. Yuval, the owner of the shop, is a real expert at taking old bikes and turning them into beautiful art works. 75 Frishman St.
WATCH TYP D.I.S.C.O. official video: