Five Favourites: Kama Vardi

Having spent a nomadic youth travelling, experimenting and creating, Tel Aviv based artist Kama Vardi has released a stream of solo material to much acclaim, and is now set to release her new album this week.

Showcasing Vardi’s unique sparkling majesty, the collection is filled with a beguiling allure and captivating mysticism as the shimmering splendour of Vardi’s distinctive vocals flows throughout each strikingly beautiful offering.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. So, we caught up with Kama to discuss the five songs that inspire her the most. Have a read and watch her latest video for ‘The Gate’ below. 

Nina Simone – ‘Stars’ 
My first choice is this brilliant, heart breaking live version of Janis Ian’s song ‘Stars’, performed by Nina Simone. Nina Simone’s life was not a simple one, to put it lightly, and when you listen to her play this song you get it all – you mourn that life of glory with her, you make peace with her pain; you see her as she really is – a true performer. Simone is known for never leaving the stage, not for a moment, and when you watch this show, and you witness her breathtaking personality as it’s showing here, full of kindness and anger, you realise why. 

Syd Barrett – ‘Dark Globe’
Even though I rarely listen to Syd Barrett anymore, I had to put him in this list. Barrett was one of the first artists I ever got deeply into, and definitely the one that influenced me in the most meaningful way. His raw nature and wild, intuitive writing and performance got me from the first second. Barrett is not the relatable kind. He is not Joni Mitchell who wrote all her songs just for you, nor is he Tom Waits who will pull you from your deepest pits with a cuddle. But he will expand your horizons in a very real way, he will put you in a foreign land and stay with you there. This song, also called ‘Wouldn’t You Miss Me?’, is a perfect example of Syd Barrett’s world; a gorgeously hectic, beautifully broken, dazzling world.

Joanna Newsom – ‘Sawdust and Diamonds’
I admit, when I first heard Joanna Newsom I didn’t believe her. All I could hear was squeaks and, despite everyone around me praising it, I just couldn’t buy it. But then I broke up with my then boyfriend and band mate, and something about being twenty and alone cracked me wide open, and I decided to give it another chance. I sat down to listen to her album YS, and when I did I just couldn’t believe I couldn’t hear it before – it was so gorgeous, so profound; I listened to it on repeat for a week, waking up every morning excited to press play again, and when it reached a boiling point I sat down and within one sleepless week wrote my entire first solo album. It’s hard to pick just one song from this album, but ‘Sawdust & Diamonds” is a good one to start with. The words are everything in these songs, so reading them as you listen is very good advice. Here is a quote from that song, for appetite:
I wasn’t born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
No; I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
So enough of this terror, we deserve to know light
And grow evermore lighter and lighter
You would have seen me through but I could not undo that desire…

Oren Lavie – ‘Note to Self’
Sometimes you hear a song and you immediately feel so close to the person singing, you’re sure you and them are meant to be, and if you only got to meet each other you’d fall in love, become best friends, live happily ever after. I know that isn’t usually true; it’s disappointing, but artists are often very different on their canvas than in person.
Nevertheless, after I heard Oren Lavie’s ‘Note to Self’ I had to find out. I got his number and asked him out for a drink, and that drink turned into a night of wandering the streets together, which turned into the greatest love of my life to date. Oren Lavie is one of the most exciting, honest and timeless songwriters I know, with a voice so deep and soothing you’re gonna want to forget yourself in his arms every night, which I strongly recommend. 

Tom Waits – ‘Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night’
When you’re young and seeking adventure, everything means something: the street lights flickering, your cousin calling, your weekly pay – all these things are like clues to help you find it. When you grow up you start filtering, you just can’t afford the waste, you don’t have time. But Tom Waits didn’t write this song when he was seventeen and this agelessness is one of the things I love about him. He could write a convincing fifty year old when he was twenty three, and he can capture this teen spirit as an adult. When I first listened to ‘Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night’ I was a deeply committed youth participant myself, and I was drawn to this world he described like a moth to the flame. A world that is happening, the real thing. And he helped me up there, and still is. 

Massive thanks to Kama Vardi for sharing her five favourites with us!

Moonticket, the upcoming new album from Kama Vardi, is out 27th November via Bread For Eskimos.

Photo Credit: Goni Riskin

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