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Interview with Quami De La

[ Conducted in January 2018 ]

Every wondered about that Israeli Radio advertisement on the Root Down EP? We did and so we investigated...

How did you come to be on the Root Down EP?

Since the end of 1992 I became a music editor in The Israeli Radio. I was an enormous rap & hip-hop fan, and that was the exact music the Israeli mainstream didn't acknowledge, so I did everything I could to spread it wherever I could, and I'll allow myself to say I became one of Rap's biggest pushers in the Israeli media. My favorite group in the world were The Beastie Boys.
When The news arrived that Beasties are coming to perform 2 shows in Israel in 1995 , I've immediately asked to air a special show about them, which was the first special show about the beasties here in Israel. I've edited the music, and the host was my friend Tal Berman, who was the station's rising star. To promote the special I've recorded a 30 seconds Jingle based on "So Watcha Want", in Hebrew. We got into the studio, and with no computer tricks we've tried to follow the distorted vocals sound of the original, with brilliant sound technicians Shmulik Lederman & Itay Vexler. I did the vocals, and Berman and a super cool friend from the station called Eldad Levy both joined me.
It's important to understand that back in those days there was no such thing as Rap In Hebrew. It was considered so strange and illogical here, that people used to mock even just the concept of rapping in Hebrew, and even the band Shabak Samech, which became super successful a few years later, haven't released their 1st album yet. So what happened was that when that jingle was released there was such an excitement about in the radio station, that the dj's there started to play it as a new joint in their regular shows, not only in it's original promotional purpose.

Two days after the special show was aired, Adam Horovitz & Mike D came for an Interview in Berman's daily show. I sat there in the studio as a guest interviewer. We played them the jingle and they've really liked it! It was a huge thing for us. Later on during the interview, Berman, who knew I knew all the lyrics to the B-Boys' songs by heart, closed the mic and told them: "Hey, My man here knows the lyrics to "Get It Together" so why don't you do it together?". And I just became so scared - never rapped in public before in my life, not to say in front of my biggest heroes in the galaxy - so I said "no no no no no no no no". Ad-Rock said "Hey, your man here doesn't want to do it, so we won't do it". And then Berman, The Bastard, opened the mic and said these exact words the same, only this time on air : "Hey, My man here knows the lyrics to "Get It Together" so why don't you do it together?" and he simply started playing the "Get It Together" instrumental. I've had about a second & a half to think - and there and then I found myself rapping the Q-Tip verses from Get It Together with Adam & Mike freestyling the rest of the verses! When the 3rd verse came along I felt I'm about to blackout from all the excitement and I rapped "I don't want to do this shit anymore nomore". Mike D rapped "why man?" and I've quoted A Tribe Called Quest's "Oh My God" and Rapped: "I don't know man I don't know man I don't know man I don't know I don't know". Ended the song, the beasties stood and hugged me, I was in awe and it was the greatest moment of my life.
A few minutes after They've left the studio, their record company representative in Israel, called Uzi Preuss, called the studio and told me the Beasties want a recording of the Jingle and of the live "Get It Together" with me. Of course I've immediately send him a cassette with both, and the day after he called to tell me that the late Adam Yauch played that cassette to himself all day long.
I've been to both of the Beastie Boys' shows in Israel, that night and the night after, both were unreal, and they even asked Preuss to call me to meet them afterwards backstage, and I did and had a beautiful amazing small conversation with Adam Horovitz.
Later on that year the same Preuss called me for a meeting, and showed me a document sent by the Beasties, in which they've asked to use the recording of the jingle. Of course I said YES and signed immediately. And that's how it landed as the last 30 seconds hidden track of the Root Down EP, and years later also as the looped music in the Sounds Of Science DVD, when you enter the So Watcha Want screen. In the Root Down inner sleeve I'm credited as "Eyal Deep Friedman" but nowadays everybody knows me here as Quami.

We have tried (even asked Mario C) to figure out from which what cities/concerts the songs on the Root Down EP. I wondered if by chance you ever were privy to a memo or a document with the tracklisting on it - that may have included this additional information?

Unfortunately not. I only know & remember the Beasties performed two shows in the middle of March 1995 in Israel in a large venue called "The Loft" in Jaffa.

What impact (if any) did your appearance on the Root Down EP have on your career thereafter..?

It was a turning point in my life, the whole thing with the Beastie Boys. Next to me when interviewing them sat Liron Teeni, a club & radio dj. In the mid-nineties to meet a rap fan in Israel was such a rare thing, that when you knew about someone like that you immediately felt you had to connect with them. And Liron came to me a few days later and said "I didn't know you were like that as well, into rap". And he also said he has an idea for a rap-dedicated radio show and asked if I'd like to do it with him. We started working together, and about a year and a half later we began to air "Esek Shahor", which was the first only rap based regular radio show in Israeli radio history. That show became a huge hit as well as one of the centers for Rap fans on Israel, exposing many of them to this music.
Another thing that happened is that because of the whole experience I got the notion for the first time in my life that I can have confidence in making music by myself, and so I've started writing and performing, and to this day I've released 3 Albums, 2 of them with my band "Quami & The Halvoth", that mixes rap with alternative rock of many sorts, blues, electronic music, and much more, inspired a lot by the eclectic b-boys eternal spirit.

What are you up to now?

Nowadays I'm mostly into the Independent Alternative Eclectic Radio Station I've opened in 2012, called KZRadio (it means "Edge Radio" in Herbew, or in our language - "Radio Hakatze").
Everyone in This station works voluntarily. We don't have any major sponsors yet, but the love for music and free radio are our fuel. My own show there, in which I play the best and eclectic new music of the week to my taste, Is live every Sunday from 15:00 to 18:00 Israel Time. Amongst many others, we also have a great rap show - that plays rap both in Hebrew and in Arabic, called "Middle East Coast" (and hosted by Yvonne Saba & Tomer Gershenman).
I also have a weekly show every Saturday night at 22:00 in Galgalatz, in the station house where the whole Beastie Boys story happened for me, in which I Play all sorts of amazing music from the past.
That's about it I think (:
Thank you Mark!

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