Israeli alternative progressive rock act SaffeK, led by composer Oren Amitai, has just released an animated music video for the song “Mad,” taken from the group’s recent EP entitled “All Too Human.” In support of that launch, Amitai speaks for Progarchy about his beginnings, starting SaffeK, and more.
Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.
I started like many Rock lovers of my age group with the first album of Linkin Park when it was released, I was around 11. I found myself reading Manga with Linkin Park as a soundtrack and just exploding with awe and emotion. Life was felt so strongly and vivid. Quickly after I found out about System of a Down and The Doors, two bands that closed the deal for me – Music is my trigger, I am at another level of existing when the fire of it holds me.
By the age of 15 I was doing my own adaption of Rock on a broken classic guitar. In those years I also got really deep into classic Prog and quickly after I found myself a part of my dream cast prog group made out of my best friends growing up. We named ourselfs Hanagaria (“The Carpentry”) after Dean’s dad carpentry where we used to sit every night. After Hanagaria released an LP we broke up. Dean went on playing Bass in SaffeK and the talented Ilan Barkani from the group also joined me for a couple of years on the drums.
How did you go about starting SaffeK? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?
After Hanagaria broke up I decided to dream my own musical voyage, leading my interpretation of Alternative Prog Rock. The project was originally named “Oren Amitai’s Stitches” but then I got around to the understanding that the name was a teeth breaker so I decided to change it to SaffeK, which means “doubt” in Hebrew. My experience of existeen is summed up in this word and it only made sense that my life’s project will be named the same.
In the beginning, did you have some “fixed” tempo in composing songs or everything was a product of jamming, improvising?
All of SaffeK’s music started out in my bubbling head. I used to work out the main themes and different parts on guitar and vocals and then I went around meeting all of the band members individually, working with them on what I had in mind and using their talent and input in order to mold the best part with them for the song. Then, we went on the extraordinary and exciting sessions of finding out how the imaginary world turns to ecstatic insanity in the rehearsal room.
After the first couple of years I decided to make everything much more down to earth. Today I send out everything ready for everybody without us meeting, including the final draft of the song. Then, when we reach the rehearsal room, those talented basterds bring their amazing approach to the piece and we polish it all and find out what the finished song will be.
How would you describe SaffeK music on your own?
SaffeK’s music is a mash of the ideas and musical influences that made me who I am with a focus on the rock & guitar elements. It’s music that turns me to an animalistic emotional madman. A music that steps on the core of existing for me, pushes the epicness of life is I feel it through music and comes with a message of acceptance to all the other weird souls who wander this earth with me and are confused but at awe as hell.
Tell me about the writing and recording sessions for “All Too Human” EP.
Writing down “All Too Human” was a very deep and emotional journey for me. The E.P describes the main 4 elements in my character that make me suffer as a human, the 4 main features that separates me for the most part of what I feel and describe as divine. In order to really flesh them out I had to venture into my destructiveness and fill myself with the sadness, anger, pressure and alienation. The best part of it, of course, is that I feel that the best way to describe these elements is to burn them out, scream them out, feel them to the maximum effort. And that is what I tried to do with the compositions themselves. The rec sessions were great, great flowing vibe and in awesome happy energetic accomplishment.
What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line, vocal arrangement?
For me the most important thing is the story itself. I have to ask myself all the time if the story makes sense to me, if it works me out emotionally. If you listen to the song and you swim with the journey, not nodding your head going “…What?”.
Besides that, I find that what I usually work around with at first is the melody/riff to start me off. That’s the first thing that moves me.
Recommend us some good progressive rock/metal acts coming from your area.
One of the most exciting, well developed and pecked with originality is Subterranean Masquerade. Their concerts are a must see!
I have to recommend “Bzaat” as well. virtuoso guitar & drums insanity!
Are you also involved in any other projects or bands beside SaffeK?
I used to float around and work with different projects, today I’m focusing on SaffeK as my passion. Otherwise, I work as a teacher at Just Music Academy in Israel and develop productions and mix & master for beautiful people that come my way. I find the work of teaching intense and inspiring. It’s a true beauty to see people transforming their passion and flare into an authentic creation.
So, what comes next for SaffeK?
A new video is coming out in the next few weeks, a work of a lot of great minds which I am very proud of. It’s gonna take SaffeK’s visual presentation to a new level.
Afterwards it’s all about counting down the days till summer when we will release a new album followed by a European tour. Beside that, truly, all we can’t wait for is to see the people, the crowds, what we live for. We can’t wait to break the lonesomeness, the dreadful silence of the music with you.