Israel-based band Scardust released their second album Strangers on 30th October. In our interview we talked to Noa Gruman about the album, experiences with the band, her other projects, and we got to know her a little better. Thanks again for her cooperation!
Hello, Noa! First of all, I would like to congratulate on your new album Strangers!
Thank you so much!
Your songs are extremely professional and complex. How long does the songwriting process take?
The songs were written by both Orr Didi and myself. Our process starts with brainstorming ideas, agreeing on a direction, and then kind of diving into it. We can lock ourselves in the studio for 12-14 hours and finish the session with a song or two in hand, without realizing how time flew by. Usually then Orr takes it from there to finallize the arrangement, and I to record the demos. The entire album was written like that within about half a year.
You have a “ghost member”, Orr Didi, who works as a songwriter in the band. May I ask why did he decide to stay in the background?
Orr is actually an amazing instrumentalist. He is a master on the guitar, bass, piano, and he’s actually a pretty decent drummer and singer as well! I’m constantly amazed by him. While checking our options back when we started the band together, he made the decision to “stay in the background” due to impaired vision, which makes playing live on a stage, a big challenge for him.
What does Strangers refer to as a title and recurring element?
“Strangers” is a concept album, consisting of 5 stories about different aspects of estrangement – from someone else, from the world, from yourself, between cultures and so on. Each told from 2 different angles, assembling pairs of songs. For example – the song “Stranger” is about the one who got left, and “Gone” about the one who left.
I have a love-hate relationship with all of them. But Gone.
I really like the song Concrete Caves, with Patty Gurdy. How do you two meet first? How old is your friendship?
Patty first got in touch with me about 2 years ago, sharing a video of her covering one of our songs from “Sands of Time” and seeking vocal advice! We started chatting around that and instantly bonded. The rest is history
Shortly after that, she was a guest at our Berlin show, and both of us shot a spontaneous duet for our song “Sands of Time” which is on her YouTube channel. Later that year, my choir Hellscore, recorded for her album “Pest and Power”. In the summer of 2019, we toured the UK together, with a few mutual shows around London. The highlight of the tour was our Ramblin Man Fair show, which included a live choir in which Patty took part. Shortly after this tour, we started planning her visit to Israel, with her big feature on “Strangers”, a show together in Tel Aviv, and a video production (little did we know).
The full story is nicely documented in a video that was recently uploaded to Scardust’s YouTube channel.
In your songs, you deal a lot with the topics of nightmares, sleep paralysis and so on. Where did this concept come from?
When Orr and I started writing our EP Shadow back in 2014, while brainstorming ideas for it and seeking inspiration, we found a big common ground between us – sleep issues! This is how Tantibus (I) was born in 2015, followed by Tantibus II on Strangers in 2020
Now I’d like to ask about you. When did you start singing? Was there a point in time when you decided that you wanted to be a singer?
My mom tells me that I started singing before I started talking, so I actually don’t remember any time in my life without singing.
I was raised in a very musical family. My parents encouraged me to study music and the whole family have been playing and singing music together ever since I can remember. That being said, my parents always saw it as a hobby. A big and serious one, but a hobby nonetheless. Over the years I tried different field, but each of them always led me back to music, so finally around the age of 22 I decided to drop everything else to focus solely on music, and everything that comes with it.
Are there any other musicians in your family?
All of them (mom, dad, and 3 siblings) are amazing musicians, but none of them does music as a full time job.
We used to play and sing a lot together, as a band called “Kol Hamishpaha” (double meaning – “the voice of the family” and also “the whole family”). For over a decade when we were younger, we played festivals, clubs, events, and even won a TV reality contest. Nowadays, this band is less active, but we still have the occasional project here and there.
My family members always take part in Scardust projects, either as a part of the choir (both my sisters are regular members of Hellscore, and my brother and father occasionally join the choir in big external projects) or as instrumentalists (my mother and my sister Rinat are amazing violinists!).
It is clearly audible that your voice is very skilled and you can impressively use variety of technics such as growls/screams, pitches, etc. Since when do you train your voice? How big is your sound range?
My first voice lesson was around the age of 16, and my first teacher tought me for 2 years. I was very lucky to get an amazing teacher who thoroughly thought me the anatomy of the voice and gave me some great basic knowledge. With that, in the following years, during my army service and fashion studies, I could kind of teach myself, research, explore and develop my skills by my own. Between 21 and 23, I took online lessons with Floor Jansen, who inspired me to dream bigger and challenged me to expend my boundaries.
When and how did you get to love rock/metal?
Around the age of 15, with a group of friends that used to host “System of a Down” parties in their back yard, which to that day, I think are the best kind of parties!
What reactions do you get in connection with your music in your country and worldwide?
I think our music is rather controversial. You either really love it or really hate it.
What is your best experience with Scardust so far?
I was overwhelmed by our headline show in CHINA last year, which took place in front of thousands of people, and the experience overall was outside of this world. But, there is nothing like performing in Tel Aviv, here at home.
Did you have funny and/or strange moments during concerts?
I am really bad at remembering lyrics. When I forget a line, I either ask Yanai (our bassist) who always knows the lyrics and reacts quickly, in a middle of a song, or, I point the mic towards the audience in hope that they sing instead. When I have luck, they do.
You have another project too, called Hellscore. Can you tell us something about that?
Hellscore started right after the recordings for Sands of Time in late 2016. The choir in Sands of Time consisted of mainly my vocal students, plus some family and friends who are great singers. The recordings went really well, and once we got them done, I realized what an amazing group of people is standing in front of me. A combination of great personalities and great singers, who are all into metal. I decided to put a title on it, called it “Hellscore”, and invited whoever wanted to join this as an ongoing project by it’s own.
We started with about 12 singers in my living room, and within less than 4 years we grew into a big choir of about 40 metal singers. We have our own Metal A Cappella repertoire, covering the likes of Slipknot, Nightwish, System of a Down, Judas Preist and more. We also sing for Metal bands, live or in the studio, such as Therion, Ayreon, Amorphis, Orphaned Land, Patty Gurdy and of course – Scardust. To me, Hellscore is a Scardust band member
Although I did study different things over the years, including music obvously, I don’t have any diploma on the wall. I see every project that I do that emerges into the world as a diploma.
I make my living of Hellscore, some private students, and in non-pandemic times – choir workshops.
What are your plans for the near future?
Currently working on a new Hellscore project, that will see the light of day as soon as the covid restrictions allow us to all meet up at an open space, so we can shoot a video.
Apart from that, I’ve been putting some time into creating videos for my personal YouTube channel. Mostly “Making of” and “Behind the Scenes” videos.
For Scardust, until we can perform again, I believe we will either continue making videos, and/or start writing some new material
Finally, some general information:
Date and place of birth:
December 11, 1888 (I’m an elf, in case you havn’t noticed)
Jerusalem, which is where my heart is.
Original hair color:
Have you got brothers or sisters?
My older siser Shani, young sister Rinat, and young brother Yarden.
Anything artsy craftsy but especially creating costumes and stage outfits.
Can’t start my day without my favorite granola with raisins and dates.
Continuing my straight-head vibes – tea.
The Neverending Story.
I must say Queen, because I grew up on them.
All of them and none of them at once.
Does hiking count?
Have you got any pet?
Louis, Hellscore’s CEO, Scardust’s mascot. A fluffy purring bossy feline.
Have you got an idol?
What was the best day of your life?
I did not expect that question! This literally took me the longest to find an answer to. I can remember many amazing days, but I think that October 16th, 2019, which is the day of the Scarfest in Tel Aviv, was a perfect day.