Yael Akron (Align)
Musical Discoveries: Please tell us about the origins of Align.
Yael Akron: Align is the incarnation of former Israeli band, Manga, formed by Yael Akron and Tal Vaisman, and since then, had a few lineup changes over the years. The last member to complete the current lineup is drummer Maayan Banana Henik who played with Tal in some other projects.
Manga has been active for approximately three years, until the recent change of name due to the decision to expose our music to an international audience by recording new material in English. Previously we played rock in Hebrew, with the exception of the English single "My Secret Truth" we released about a year ago on the compilation album Israel Unleashed.
What are the musical backgrounds of the individual band members?
I began my musical journey as a saxophonist at the age of ten, a phase which lasted for eleven years. During that time, I mostly played jazz and classical music and only started writing songs and singing after completing my military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
Tal started playing guitar at the age of ten. Initially focusing on producing as much noise as he could from his guitar--or any other noisy instruments for that matter. In his high school years, after a very intensive metal/punk/hardcore phase, we met as he found new interest with melodic musicians and genres such as jazz, progrock. Through his work in Manga he also started taking interest in the productional aspect of the band's sound.
Maayan started playing drums after a brief affair with the bass guitar. Coming from a musically fertile household--his father still, is an accomplished jazz-guitar player--he was exposed from a very early age to various music styles which also included avant-garde jazz-rock bands from the 70s, aggressive metal bands and soulful blues players.
Has the band drawn many of the fans of the former Manga lineup to the new sound of Align?
Our sound has evolved through and during periods in which we played live shows.
Realizing what our future sound should be like by performing it live in front of our fan base is the reason why we feel that Align is the natural progression of Manga.
There was a curious evolution of sound, starting by recording a full length album in Hebrew prior to the consistent period of live shows.
Through these shows we found ourselves translating the clean/restrained recorded sound into a much rougher and edgy sound which, we thought, more suitably defined us as a band, live or on tape.
The next natural step was writing and recording more materials which suited the concept better, so our fan base had witnessed and embraced this process.
The EP is comprised of all new material sung in English rather than Hebrew. How did you find this transition?
The language transition was mostly quite easy due to the fact that we mostly listen to music sung in English. Actually writing and singing in Hebrew used to be a much greater challenge for us. However, after translating some old material we learned that we could sometimes appreciate the aggressive sound of the Hebrew language and its unique artistic expression.
And the sound has evolved since your earlier work. What can you say about the progression?
As we have mentioned earlier, we have evolved as a band mainly through live shows and the new material is an attempt to recapture our live set, as far as sound and energy.
Also, there's a new sense of adventurism in our arrangements, song choice and dynamics.
We felt that we wanted to create a more unique sound which is comprised of heavier heavy moments which come in contrast with our melodic emphasis.
We also incorporated some interesting programmed sounds, replacing previous keyboard functions, daring drumming, cheeky guitars and broader range of vocal performance.
Will you be translating the lyrics to your earlier material and be re-recording it as Align?
Some old songs will be translated and re-recorded, as we loved them all we are still not fixed on which ones, but meanwhile continuously creating new material that matches the current spirit of sound.
There is a shift from entirely your vocal work to a combination with Tal. What led to this change?
We felt that the different dynamics created by the vocal combination of the two of us is an interesting one that should be developed and emphasized.
The change was also a result of the dynamics of our live show on stage, in which we both function as front persons.
What are the touring plans to promote the new EP and the band's new direction.
We definitely plan on taking our music abroad. Our plan is to perform with new material around Israel this summer, and to schedule a tour in the US during fall of 2009.
In addition to the material on the EP, how many new songs has the band got ready to showcase?
We plan to have a live set comprised of about fourteen new songs including one or two covers. At the moment we are working hard on building our new set by mixing and matching the right songs to create a new live experience for us and for the audience.
What should we expect from Align in the coming months?
We'll be working on new materials, scheduling shows around Israel for the summer and fulfilling our plans regarding touring the States during the next fall.
Before we conclude is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
It's always a pleasure to appear on Musical Discoveries! Watch out for our upcoming fall tour in The [United] States.