By Miranda Frum
Israeli band A-WA recently blew up on international music charts with their hit single “Habib Galbi.”Pitbull has since created his own remix. As these three Yemenite sisters take over the music world with their infectious sound, Fig Tree & Vine caught them in between concerts to get a list of their favorite places to hang in Tel Aviv. Travel like a local? Why not travel like a local rockstar?
Where do you like to go when you are back in Tel Aviv?
The Levinsky Market: Ouzeria for dinner in the neighborhood, Yom Tov Deli for the best Turkish “kashkaval” (a type of cheese), Buba for homemade “jahnun,” (a type of Yemenite breakfast bread). B-Side Records (music shop), and Cafelix for coffee.
How did you meet Jaffa-based Yemenite jeweler Ben-Zion David? What drew you guys to his work? Has he made any special pieces for you before?
We’d been researching and following Yemenite culture for years. We discovered Ben Zion’s amazing art and were so excited to find out about his museum located nearby in old Jaffa. We went to visit and watch him make his creations on the spot. Apparently he had also heard about our band and liked our music! Since meeting, we wear his jewelry in almost every photoshoot we have.
Clockwise from left: Jachun at Buba, Greek hotspot Ouzeria, Yom Tov Turkish deli, Ben-Zion David in his Jaffa studio.
A-WA beautifully blends a sound of traditional music with something modern, edgy, and new. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Our debut album ‘Habib Galbi’ contains songs based on folklore created by Yemenite women through the oral storytelling tradition. The lyrics are all from a female perspective, speaking out about love and longing, and the pains of unrequited desires. A few of the songs are about the celebration of community and having each other’s backs too. For our second album, we’re focusing on original stories in the same dialect (Yemeni-Arabic), with a nod to the monologue-style and flowery poetry of our past.