Yiddish and metal come together in a unique union with Dibbukim

Dibbukim brought quite a surprise to fans with their debut album, Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn. It defies the usual expectations of folk metal and by introducing Yiddish in a metal format, basically created a whole new genre to enjoy. It’s atypical, and that is what grabbed fan attention so quickly. The band was kind enough to discuss a bit of their history and further ‘translate’ some of their songs and ideas for those who are not familiar with the Yiddish language (like most of us here at the BRUTALISM horde).

Hello from BRUTALISM; how are things going in Sweden for you and the band?
Cheers! Everything is fine in Sweden as we are enjoying the northern sun and the nice response we are getting on our new album. Even though half of the band is currently on vacation we are usually hard at work promoting the album and trying to get people to notice us.

So I guess the first question on everyone’s mind is: what does Dibbukim translate to? All of your lyrical work is done in Yiddish so it is only understood by a select few…
Yeah, true that. Yiddish is not a widely spread language among metal heads I’m afraid, so we get these types of questions a lot. This is of course really great, because we truly want to spread this wonderful mystic language. A Dibek or Dibbuk is a demon like creature that possesses the soul of a human being. The Dibek can strike anyone, no matter how pious that person might be. Dibbukim is the plural form of the word, so I guess a rough translation would be “Demons”.

Being a ‘Yiddish metal band’ is unique, no? Or are there lots of others out there. Your debut album seems one of a kind!
As far as I know we are only two metal bands who sing in Yiddish in the entire world. The other gang is Israeli Gevolt who has a really neat Rammstein meets traditional Yiddish music thing going on. However, we are currently the only band writing original metal material in Yiddish, but we sure hope this will change in the future; there is still plenty of room on the Yiddish Metal stage!

How did Dibbukim form and what made you want to take things to a heavy music kind of level? Usually Yiddish culture and metal don’t always mix due to certain stereotypes associated with each…
It was an idea my wife Ida came up with. We had discussed doing a musical project together but we didn’t know what. When she suggested that we should do ‘Yiddish Metal.’ I was totally blown away by the idea. It just sounded amazing and it would enable us to combine our two biggest interests; Yiddish and metal. Since we are both metal heads it was pretty natural that the music went in a heavy direction and it never crossed our mind to pay regards to any stereotypes.

What has been some of the band’s personal experiences with metal music? Any particular influences that helped shape the style of your music?
I, Magnus and Jacob has been a part of the metal scene for quite some time and we have played in different types of metal bands through the years. I really think we cover every single metal genre when it comes to personal taste in the band, but it’s really hard to say what have influenced us in our music. Since ‘Az a Foygl un a Goylem Tantsn’ is our debut album it might also be too early to say what our main influences are, as I don’t know if we have discovered our “true” sound yet. But we are definitely influenced by neo-classical progressive heavy/power metal and I know for a fact that Magnus often uses Luca Turilli as a source of inspiration. The foundation of the sound is however something I’d describe as a mix between a metalized version of the old Klezmer tradition and Nordic Folk Metal in the veins of Tyr and Korpiklaani. Hopefully we’ve added something that is typical for Dibbukim as well!

When listening to your debut album- it takes what some of us would call ‘folk metal’ in a very organic and different direction than one might have expected. Was that an intended result or an accidental blessing?
Haha, I have no idea, so probably an accidental blessing! It’s really nothing we think about when we create music, how to sound and what direction our creations should take. We just want to make beautiful Yiddish Metal, and who knows what that sounds like?

Lyrically, where does the album stand? Is there a certain theme that goes throughout that maybe you could inform our readers about who possibly don’t understand the album?
It’s not a concept album of any sort and the lyrical themes differ a lot. The covers of old Yiddish classics include everything from songs from a musical to lullabies and other traditional songs which have been sung in Yiddish communities through the ages. Some songs are very happy, like “Yidl mitn fidl” who tells the story of a father and daughter who hit the road as travelling “klezmorim” (Klezmer musicians), others are really sad like “Papirosn” which is about a young orphaned boy who tells his miserable life story trying to sell cigarettes in the pouring rain.
Our own material has also quite different themes. “A mabl fun mashke” (A deluge of liquor) is a drinking song which describes how enormous amounts of booze can drown your angst and sorrows. “Khaloymes” (Dreams) is a mystical dreamy song which uses folk lore elements like the bird and the Golem from the album title. “Der Rodmakher” (The Wheelmaker) describes how we let earthly things control our lives, becoming slaves to vanity and how we all end up running around in the wheel of hypocrisy. And finally we have “Hinter dem tol” (Beyond the valley”) which also is about a creature from the Yiddish folk lore, a “shretl” (approximately “gnome”), who lives like a king in his cave but since he’s all alone he can’t share this with anyone which of course makes him miserable.

Do you think now that this will be a one-time thing or would you like Dibbukim to continue in the Yiddish tradition? Or will you experiment to diverse your sound and branch outwards?
We will definitely evolve our music, but Dibbukim is a Yiddish Metal band and will stay like that for as long as we are active.

Any tours planned or currently in the works?
Unfortunately not; we are currently just focusing on getting out there with our music so that people know who we are before we hit the road.

What do you like best about touring?
For me it’s all about the experience on stage. I’m not a big fan of “the life on the road” but there’s no better feeling than performing your music in front of a crowd who loves what you are doing. I truly hope I’ll be able to experience this with Dibbukim in the future.

Have fans received your music well, whether they are within your culture or outside of it. As said before, it’s a unique take so some may be averse to it and some may be intrigued… where is the scale on that weighting at this point?
It’s really black and white for us as it seems like the response is either love or hate when people hear our music. So far the love is totally dominating the hate so we are really happy with the feed back so far. In fact we don’t mind being disliked either. As long as you stir up some emotions and not leave the listeners completely blank I believe you are on the right track.

Has there been anything a fan has said or done that has really inspired you to keep going with this musical project?
Every time a fan sends us an email or posts on Facebook or Youtube it really warms our hearts and makes us want to carry on further with this musical endeavor. So I’d like to encourage everyone who likes what we are doing to let us know how they feel!

Would people who are rigid in Yiddish/ Jewish culture consider you hypocrites or heretics for what you’ve created in Dibbukim, or would it more like a ‘more power to you!’ kind of support?
Yiddish is not a religious language and Yiddish culture is not automatically religious but includes all people, so that’s really not an issue. I don’t really think that the ultra-orthodox community has any opinions at all regarding our music, since the theme is folkloristic and worldly rather than piously religious they probably don’t pay that much attention to us, if any. With that said we do have a lot of religious fans outside the ultra-orthodox branch who has given us a “more power to you”-support. The word “sh’koyekh” actually means “more power to you” and we here it from time to time from our Yiddish speaking fans!

Lastly, what do you enjoy to do to wind down from the craziness of the band? Or would you prefer to just stay lost in the thick of it all?
Haha, I’m not sure I understand this question but right now I just go with the flow and try to not steer my life and our music in any particular direction. If this means that I wind down or stays lost I don’t know, but I’m definitely enjoying the ride.

Thanks again for your time; hopefully you will continue making some fantastic Yiddish metal music for fans to enjoy in the future!
The pleasure was all mine! Thanks for all your support and we’ll make sure to continue creating Yiddish Metal!
Interviewer: devilmetal747
May 31, 2011
Next interview: Hemoptysis rise to power

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