In the bubble of her home city it's impossible to ignore the political situation outside, and the media rule across the globe
If you haven’t seen the video for Noga Erez’s debut single, ‘Dance While You Shoot’, seek it out. Directed by Zhang + Knight, and inspired by Richard Mosse’s award-winning infrared photography series, it stitches together a series of ominous images and interactions in eerily-deserted concrete vistas, its greyscale cinematography interrupted by the erratic pop of fuchsia pink to signify “violence, corruption and desperation.” Interspersed are shots of Erez, variously stationary and dancing, but always regarding the camera with a cool, defiant demeanour. The effect is enthralling, disorientating and disquieting, and consequently the perfect match for the Tel Aviv-based singer-songwriter’s incendiary and idiosyncrasy-rich electronic-pop. Simply in terms of fulfilling the brief to deliver an enduring first impression, the combination of music and visuals is close to unbeatable.
“It was exactly what I wanted because it showed a very intense reality in a very spectacular way,” Erez agrees when we catch up in her East London Airbnb rental, the day after her first UK headline show. That “intense reality” was further amplified by their decision to shoot the video in Ukraine, following Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea, though the original plan was to film in the ghost town of Pripyat, which has been deserted since the Chernobyl disaster. “That was the first reason we wanted to do it in Ukraine, but we ended up finding even more interesting locations in Kiev. It’s an interesting place; it has a very dark side to it. And going there would just be me approaching the subject from a more global perspective.”
The song itself examines the protagonist’s reliance on a government that, in Erez’s own words, “takes your money, keeps you in the dark about the real, important matters that affect your life directly, while drowning you in manipulative media, ignorance and bureaucracy.” Erez’s vocals are variously layered, pitch-shifted or distorted with autotune, as she taunts the listener, growling lines like, “I can chop you with no knife, with no gun in my hand, I can hit you, keep you down.”
Interestingly, when I suggest that the song’s anti-establishment sentiment is overtly political, she’s quick to challenge me: “I mean, can you say ‘political’, just talking about how you feel about your government? Is that political? I don’t know. That’s what I think, what I feel.” Erez’s reticence to be drawn into specific detail, or to nail her colours to any particular political mast, isn’t the result of media training, however; it’s the natural outcome of 26 years spent navigating the complex realities of life in Israel.