Interview: Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land)

Interview: Kobi Farhi (Orphaned Land)

- in Written interviews

Credit: Zohar Ron

Their music is an incredible oriental ornament, composed of technically complex metal parts and delicate Arabic lace. It’s like bittersweet coffee with pepper. And this is exactly the taste of the last musical year, because it was marked by Orphaned Land.

The Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs manifest which united Plato’s philosophy, Che Guevara’s ideas and the historical figure of Jesus (we’ll return to this), has broken the silence that Orphaned Land had kept since 2014. New powerful progressive concept shook the musical Olympus and tore off a huge amount of applause and awards. And to be honest, the band really deserved it.

What should we expect from the oriental metal pioneers this year, what connection they have with the best Israeli Single Malt whisky and what is the meaning of life? The answers to all these questions we’ll get from the Orphaned Land soul and frontman Kobi Farhi. Enjoy!

Credit: Zohar Ron

Last year Orphaned Land have reminded the world why they are so beloved by people – not only as peacekeepers, but also as musicians with the “God” level technic. Thank you for this, guys. By the way, in your profile it’s written “your own personal Jesus”. And some fans really see you as the messiah. What do you think about it? Is it acceptable to interview Jesus for Antichrist Magazine?

Well, in my Instagram (smiling). It says “Your own personal Jesus”, because I’m a big fan of Depeche Mode and I really love that song. I’ve never thought that I look like Jesus Christ because no one know how he looked like. But there is an iconic figure that people tend to think he looked like, and they think that I may look like him. I just use this as image that helps me to transform spiritual messages, because this is a very big world icon. I think Jesus Christ was a cool human being. I really don’t think that I’m any kind of messiah or prophet or anything like that. And I don’t really think that our fans are thinking this way about me. But even they are then it isn’t the case and it isn’t something that I suggest them to do. Because I’m just a human being, like everyone else – not more, not less. I’m doing mistakes, I’m doing sins. I was good, I was bad… I’m just a human. And actually I don’t believe that there is a one person that could be messiah in our world. We have a song in the All Is One album called “Our own messiah”. Only messiah that is possible in our world is to be a good human being. This is the only salvation. Actually in this case we don’t need messiah to come and rescue us, take us and put us in heaven. This is very old point of view and I don’t think it’s possible or anyone can do it, myself included. So I’m just a singer of Orphaned Land and a human from Jaffa. That’s it.

Credit: Dekel Cohen

What is the story about gypsies you declared with your new tattoo? Has it any connection with the music and band philosophy?

My new tattoo “Soy Gitano” means “I’m a gypsy”. It’s a song by the most famous revolutionary flamenco singer from Andalusia. His name was Camarón de la Isla. And, as you know, many of the Jews are from Andalusia by origin. They were deported from Spain 500 years ago throughout all Ottoman empire. But it was the great place backing the days where Gypsies, Jews and Muslims were co-existing perfectly. Camarón de la Isla had this tattoo on his arm – a Crescent and the Star of David, like the moon and the star. I don’t know what was his intention but these are the signs of Judaism and Islam. And he is from Andalusia so… It was perfect for me to combine that ‘cause this is truly what I always do with Orphaned Land. My house is full of Arabic and Hebrew – books, calligraphy, artworks and stuff like that. It’s something that really touches me all the time because of the conflicts and misunderstandings.

Credit: Tati

Also the Jews were always gypsies at some point. They left behind 80 countries during thousands of years of wandering. And they survived with their culture and religion. Probably the Jews were more gypsies than the gypsies themselves by changing their homelands. Just look at my roots to make sure! My grand grandparents were deported from Spain. Grandmother of my father was born in Turkey, grandfather of my grandmother was born in Greece. Both of my grandparents were born in Bulgaria. So many countries… and I’m from Israel, I’m Israeli. As you can see, we are gypsies in many ways. So I’ve connected Judaism, Islam, flamenco, Andalusia all together with my new tattoo.

There was one interesting idea in American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve named “Arrival”: “Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict”. Do you agree? How do you think what glue is really strong in this case? Is it possible at all?

We say that the life and death are at our tongue. So the way you speak is really important. Sometimes it’s crazy to see how people describe the same story in different ways. Everything is in the power of words. We can hurt very much someone we love just with the words without even touching them. Poets succeed to touch people with the language and words. They succeed to say what everyone thinking about. I think that language is very important and it’s a great instrument to bring all people together. As the music is.

Israel is known as a land of milk and honey. And there is a new reading of this fact since 2012 – The Milk & Honey Distillery. Could you tell us about your collaboration? What alcohol sort do you prefer, by the way? Just honestly:)

The Milk & Honey Distillery was the big surprise for me. I know this building very well! It’s in my hometown Jaffa and it’s at the building where my circumcision ceremony was held when I was 8 days old. I was really excited that the only whiskey distillery in Israel is located a walking distance from my home. I thought that this could be great idea to collaborate with them. Not just because I like whiskey (laughing) but because it’s from Jaffa and it’s the first israeli whiskey called Milk and Honey. It’s all very symbolic and consonant with the OL. I literally met them and tasted whatever they do. It’s absolutely fascinating place. We’ve decided to make these 300 bottles limited edition of Orphaned Land. To be honestly, this lightly peated young single malt is really tasted and I really like it. Yes, I’m a big whiskey single malt fan and an alcohol fan maybe in general. And I have at least 20 bottles in my living room as my own bar. I like arak and ouzo witch are maybe the common drinks that people use to drink in Jaffa as well as all over Middle East. But whiskey… it’s something with a quality in it.

Mabool turned 15 this year. Congratulations! And I’ve heard your May show in Tel-Aviv is sold out. Is the band concept still the same through these 15 years? Or probably something has gone but you got new skills, revelations and so on?

Mabool is still our most successful album up to date. It turned into a classic already, it was released in many countries. There are more than… maybe 18 different versions of this album. Our messages are always the same. We’re trying to present them from the different directions and in other ways, but these are always the same topics and ideas. Mabool was maybe the first time we’ve really figured out  how to do our music in the right way. It was a turning point in our carrier, we started to tour all over the world after the Mabool. So it’s a very important album and people really like it. To be honestly, I think that our last album is the best, so… I think that Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs is better than Mabool. But we have fans for every album of Orphaned Land. Anyway Mabool is a special jewel in our carrier for sure.

What song from Mabool is your favorite and why?

I’d say that “The Storm Still Rages Inside” is my favorite. Because it’s the climax of the album. The whole world turned into an Ocean Land. They are traveling with the Ark screaming for God to hear his orphaned children, to hear their plea. The guitar solo of Yossi in this song is remarkable. It’s one of the best guitar solo that I’ve ever heard in my life. I was also a part of the composition of this song and it’s… It’s a really simple song but a very touching moment in the story. And I really love this part where I sing: “Hear your orphaned child”.

Do you want add some new ingredients to your multi-textured music – styles, instruments etc? Flamenco perhaps, Balkan gypsies rhythms or Hellenic melodies:)

I’m always in search of new influences and flamenco was already used in many inspirational parts. And yeah, of course Balkan elements. Any time when we use ⅞ rhythm, like in “All Is One” song (singing) – this is Balkan in a way. This mathematics of the rhythm is very Greek, very Turkish, very… maybe even Moroccan. It’s very progressive. I’m always searching for the new things – in sounds, in production elements, you know. I don’t want to repeat ourselves, I always want to take us to the next level. So yeah, definitely I will find something for the next album.

You said it took a long time while you’ve got Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs concept in your head and began to work on album with the band. It was based on Plato’s philosophy. But what is your life inspiration in general, what is the air you’re breathing?

Basically Plato said that the knowledge is a source of every good. The knowledge is like light. And ignorance is the source of every evil, like the darkness is. And this is what leads me in many times and ways. Because i’m a sucker of knowledge and information. I want to know more and more, and more about many things. I think it makes you more bigger, clever and ready for the next level or the next travel of your soul, or whatever. The stupidity is a very big tragedy, in my opinion. The tragedy is to be born in this big world in a such big black space and choose to be idiots dealing with gossip, dealing with meaningless things. So… Knowledge is the air that I’m breathing. This is what drives me


Credit: Tati

What’s next? What plans Orphaned Land has for this year, is Ukraine a part of them?

Well, our plans are as usual – to keep on playing anywhere we’re invited. Ukraine? We’ll be happy to come back to Kiev and Ukraine. We had a very very good show there in the past. If we’re invited we will go there, so… If your booker is going to book our show it will definitely to happen. Regarding plans, it seems like it’s going to be shows and stuff like that. Maybe we’ll start to think about new stuff and new material.

There are many clips of great musicians that were made in Kiev, by the way. What if our capital will be next Orphaned Land’s location in this case? Do you like the idea?

I’ve heard about it many times. Because maybe the people of Kiev are very talented. And maybe that costs very little so many people come to make their video clips in Kiev. Maybe we’ll do it as well, sure. And of course I’ll be happy to visit again your wonderful city and country.

What is common and what is the difference between Israeli and Ukrainian fans? In your opinion

It’s hard to tell. I think that fans in Israel are really hardcore, they know the words, the lyrics. Some of the songs are in Hebrew so they are connected to the culture. The fans in Ukraine are also very warm and very welcoming, jumping, clapping, you know. So it’s hard to find differences. But… I think Ukrainian people are more beautiful maybe, physically (smiling). More beautiful than us. Probably they are one of the most beautiful people on Earth – men and especially women. It’s wow! Really amazing.

Credit: Dekel Cohen

What is the meaning of freedom?

Do you mean the song “Freedom” from All Is One? It’s just an instrumental song meaning. Just take the word “freedom” and whatever comes to your mind – this is the meaning.

What would you do if today was the first and the last day of your life?

I will spend this day with the people I love. Family at first. I’ll tell them how much I love them and how much I cherish every moment that I have with them.

What can you advise anyone who wants to leave the Cave? The key message for humanity from Kobi Farhi. And let me hug you on this note:)

Leaving the Cave isn’t so hard as it seems. People are used to being trapped. There is a saying: better the devil you know. You just prefer to stay in the place that you know. Even if it’s a jail. The unknown is always more scary. The people of Israel didn’t want to leave Egypt towards the Promised Land in the Bible. They preferred to stay in their slaves because they knew how it is. They had to cross the sea to get to Promised Land, and it was the unknown. So I’d like to tell people to be brave and to go to the unknown. Just leave the Cave and insist on having the truth but not the shadows of the truth. And don’t forget about knowledge. There are so much to learn in this world! From food to music and literature, from poetry to human being, also culture, history… There is so much interesting stuff much better than the “big brother” reality TV, gossip in the newspapers. Each one of us is very, very special. And we need to understand what our special mission is and let it shine. This is what I would suggest to people. Be yourself but search who you are.

I hug you back and thanks for the interview:)

Interview by Tati

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About the author

Bikes, Music, Alcohol and Anarchy. Also books, gigs, traveling and alcohol one more time.

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