Ninet Tayeb has done almost everything there is to do in her native country of Israel. She first came into prominence as the winner of Israeli Idol about a decade ago. Her four studio albums have sold platinum; her debut reached platinum status on its day of release, yielding five #1 singles. She starred in a television series based on her life; a movie role led to a Best Actress nomination at the 2010 Israeli Theatre Awards. Ninet did, however, win “Most Favorite Act” at the MTV Europe Music Awards on two occasions.
Following touring and collaborations with Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, Ninet has her eyes set on the U.S. market with her fifth album, Paper Parachute. Ninet will be performing cross-country at The Mercury Lounge on Feb. 9, several days after the Feb. 3 release of Paper Parachute. Downtown spoke to Ninet about her recent move to the United States and what else she has coming up for her.
When was your first trip to New York? Was it when touring with Steven Wilson?
NINET: My first trip to New York was when I was 20 years old. Actually, it was my first time on a plane. (laughs) The minute I landed there, I felt something I’ve never felt before. I felt my soul was free, for real.
Is playing for a New York audience any different than playing for an audience elsewhere?
N: I guess it is different. Every city has its magic, and of course, especially New York City…
What inspired your move to Los Angeles?
N: My initial plan was to move to New York. I promised myself that at some point I will do that. L.A. is beautiful and the music scene is very much alive, inspiration is everywhere, you just have to pay attention.
Is there anything you miss about living in Israel full-time?
N: I miss my family and friends and the fact that they are a phone call away.
What was the turning point in your career from being a reality show winner to a real, respected, honest artist? Was there a particular event?
N: Well, it didn’t happen in a day, not even in a year or five. It was a long journey. I think it’s all about being true and loyal to yourself no matter what people say. The easy part is to listen to yourself, the hardest part is to believe in yourself and I’m working on it every single day.
Do you have a favorite song on your new album Paper Parachute?
N: The favorite song keeps changing according to the life I’m living. It’s really depending on the current state of mind.
Around how many songs did you write for Paper Parachute? Are there a lot of leftovers?
N: There are always leftovers. (laughs) I wrote about 25 songs and picked from that bucket.
What does 2017 look like for you? Spending most of it on the road?
N: 2017 is going to be an amazing year. I’m gonna record a new album that I’m actually working on now, and of course a lot of shows and traveling and meeting new beautiful people.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
N: I spend my free time with my family and I write a lot, almost all the time. I love to read and to spend time in Guitar Center. (laughs)
Did you have a favorite album of 2016?
N: That’s the hardest question! Let me pick two: David Bowie’s Blackstar and Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit.
Who’s the best Israeli artist that our readers may not know?
N: An Israeli band that I really love is called Balkan Beat Box — superb!
Finally, any last words for the kids?
N: Be kids, go to see live shows, take care of those who are weaker than you.