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Nehedar

Nehedar


Nehedar is a New York based singer-songwriter working in the jazz, pop, rock, folk, and punk genres. Yes--ALL of them. Nehedar's music spans many genres which would cause lesser mortals to fall flat but Nehedar rises to the occasion with smart lyrics, a fearless attitude, and a wonderful and unfailing voice. She first came to my attention while listening to the WPNR radio show Get Off My Lawn hosted by DJ Old Man Freakboy and when I downloaded her album The Warming House (Her seventh album in seven years--how's that for staying busy?) I was struck by the depth of her songwriting and interesting production ideas.

You can find more about Nehedar at her website www.nehedar.com


Roy: For the uninitiated, give us a short and snappy primer on who Nehedar is.

Nehedar: It's really just me and my songs.

Roy: How did you get started in songwriting? What made you want to write songs in the first place?

Nehedar: I started writing after my mother died I think. I wrote them as consolation for myself and communication (with her, with myself). When I first moved to NYC I lived with a family and there was a son in the family who took me under his wing and showed me how to enjoy life in the city. He took me to see a lot of great singer-songwriters like Amy Correia, and Neko Case and Eleni Mandell, Mia Doi Todd. I think it just felt so accessible seeing them on these small stages with these poignant little songs. Amy Correia was signing a CD for me and I think I told her that I wanted to write music and asked her for any advice. I don't remember consciously knowing that I did want to write music before I asked her that.

Roy: Tell us a bit about your favorite songwriters. What have they taught you?

Nehedar: I love Rickie Lee Jones, I think from her I learned to just do whatever the hell I want. I love Suzanne Vega's clear, confident voice. I love Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, I think from him I learned to paint pictures and speak colloquially. I actually love the songwriting in Tears For Fears, their stuff is all self helpy and I love that. This is the hardest question.

Roy: Do you write on guitar or another instrument?

Nehedar: I usually write with guitar, although I didn't play guitar when I made most of my first album so I used to write acapella. I kind of miss that. Not being a great guitar player I am limited if I am building around the chords I gravitate towards.

Roy: Let's talk about performing for a moment. Writing a song and performing a song are two completely different entities. Do you prefer one over the other? Have you ever written a song that is difficult to perform live?

Nehedar: I actually hate performing. I haven't ever admitted that before in any sort of public way. I have lots of songs that I can't perform live because I favor an unrestrained production style which can make some songs feel wrong if performed without even a band. My set as of late has been very sparse and slow since that is what I do best on my own. I am on my own because it's too hard to keep a band in NYC if you're not sleeping with them, or paying them.

Roy: Keith Richards likes to eat Shepherds Pie before each concert, some musicians do yoga or simply prefer a few moments alone before hitting the stage. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Nehedar: I like a good beer.

Roy: Did you frequent open mics when you were getting started? I didn't do any open mics until after I'd been in numerous bands, but learned a lot doing it.

Nehedar: I didn't really frequent open mics in the usual sense of the term. But I did get my stage legs at a true open mic. It was this event in Williamsburg BK, eventually Greenpoint BK called Hasids Meets Hipsters, eventually Shul of Rock, where a few bands would be scheduled to play early on but for the rest of the night anyone could get on. There was no sign up. I think it happened one Sunday a month or 2 Sundays a month. I'd stay out until 4am when most everyone was done and gone and then I'd get up and practice my songs with whatever musicians were around - since I didn't play guitar yet at the time.

Roy: What inspires you to write songs besides music--are there any films or books that inspire you? Family? Relationships? Politics? Real life events?

Nehedar: Yes all of the above.

Roy: One of my favorite songs of yours is "The Ballad of Sadie Farrell" which is based on Sadie the Goat, a female pirate from the 1800s. How did you hear about her story and what made you want to write a song about her?

Nehedar: Actually my husband told me about her and asked me to write a song about her. I was happy to follow up. He's requested another such historical song but it's much more ambitious in scope, a true story involving a bigfoot, aliens and the KGB. We'll see if I can pull it off!

Roy: The title song on The Warming House is a charming look back on the best parts of a person's teen years with great lines such as "I don't want to drive there, I just want to arrive there." (Seriously, when I first heard that line I had to start the song over so I could hear it again. Smart.) This song seems more reflective then nostalgic--where did the idea for this song come from?

Nehedar: That was a song that a dear friend, and my first boyfriend requested that I write during the fundraiser that I set up for the album. I had a perk that was "I will write a song for you." He selected that perk and requested that I write that song. I ended up really loving it obviously, enough to name the album after it. I think reflective not nostalgic sums it up well. The teenage years were rough for many of us, but they were so passionate and vibrant. We were so inspired but also so restrained as young humans.

Roy: You've been called a "multi-genre artist" and you do handle different musical styles--folk to poppy punk rock to everything in-between--very confidently. Do you think about writing songs in a certain style beforehand or do you just let them come out as they wish?

Nehedar: I like to let them come out.

Roy: You live and work in New York, a place I loved every time I visited, a place full of an enormous amount of energy and creativity. What's it like to live, work, and play music there?

Nehedar: Well, living here is hard, the rent is too damn high! Playing music is tough because there are virtually no guarantees paid to local bands. There's too many hungry musicians here and the bar culture that we play in is pretty cold to us, I have to say. They look at us as a way to bring in cash. You can get treated pretty badly at times and often bring in a lot of money for bars before seeing a dime. You're lucky if you get a free drink. I've seen really terrific bands get confused about why they didn't "make it" instantly and then give up. This city really doesn't give a shit who you think you are. Like my dad said, NY doesn't want to discover you. NY wants you to be a big shot and come here. The local scene here is hard to crack, as you'd imagine.

Roy: I want to make a mention about your music videos, many of which are available to see on your website. Great videos, they all work well with your songs, and look as if they were a lot of fun to make. Do you have more planned?

Nehedar: The videos are all pretty different in quality depending on when they were made and whether any money was spent. I have always been just crazy about just getting work out there, and I think it shows. But I don't have anything planned right now. I made 7 albums in 7 years between 2007 and 2014 and I was really happy to have my son as an excuse to back off and reassess. I was starting to get really negative about music. Being that performing feels so negative and you invest so much, but it's unrealistic to expect anything in return except a tax write off and getting something off your chest. I'm not sure what the future will bring but I definitely needed a palate cleanser.

 

 

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