By Harriet Kaplan
Ori Rakib, known as IRO, is an emerging artist that is a singer/songwriter that melds pop, alternative rock, hip hop and electro music together as the backdrop/palette for the raw and earthy material that he draws upon and reflects on living his life in the moment. He known for creating hypnotizing melodies, catchy hooks and poetry delivered with a deep tone. The NYC-based artist had been compared to Milky Chance, Vance Joy and Hozier. In his early 20s, IRO began making music. Later, IRO played in different street corners, subway stations, balconies, bars, eventually leading him to bigger acts such as warming up for Deep Purple in a packed arena. For a while, he lived in Israel, and then relocated to Germany, where hundreds of people would randomly gather around iconic areas of Berlin, to watch him play ad hoc concerts using a small amplifier and a guitar. IRO independently released his debut self-titled EP, the lead single “Sun,” developed a buzz on YouTube and Soundcloud. He worked with Noam Akrabi on his second EP and a full album is set for release in February 2016. IRO recently spoke to Black on the Canvas about the record label that released the popular single “Sun,” gaining popularity through social media, performing in Europe extensively and what influences shaped him as a musical artist.
What led to Universal/Astralwerks releasing “Sun”? Is that a distribution deal for one song? Will they be releasing an EP or album in the future? Is that next or the goal?
IRO: I think they were pleased with how well the track was doing in Europe and also saw that I’m not only a one song type of artist. Hopefully the relationship will bring on an album release very soon!
You’ve been an independent singer/songwriter on your own releasing your own music. Do you feel you have had to compromise yourself/art now? Was Universal/Astralwerks hands off in letting you choose a song to release as a single or did you mutually agree on “Sun” and why?
IRO: I feel lucky and humbled to have a song I made released as is. So thus far, no compromises 🙂 may that continue to be the theme ! …
European fans have seem to have taken quite a liking to the song “garnering over million streams on Spotify in Europe since May.” Can you explain or have any idea why it’s taken off there and how has the response been in the U.S.?
IRO: So far and I can especially say for the people that hear me play it live on the streets of NYC the reaction in the U.S. is great! As for why ? I think it’s a tough question to answer but I can say that it makes people bounce a bit and most of all, feel good.
Do you feel performing as a street musician and in bars has sharpened your skills playing in Berlin?
IRO: Most definitely. Your practicing and constantly confronting fears of being out there and not being accepted makes it a growing and learning experience. Today I can say that the magic happens when you are “just playing” and enjoying yourself regardless and independently of what people may or may not think ( that’s also when they come to you, just like in love )
Did you go to Berlin for the experience of learning about another way of life and culture? What led you there from New York?
IRO: Well it’s a long story but in a nutshell it was initially a choice I made with my shrinks daughter who used to sing with me (really long story). We chose Berlin because we heard it was really cool. The point of the venture started out as an artist survival type gig seeing if we can just live off of our music ! (The answer turned out to be positive 🙂
Do you plan on touring at in the future?
IRO: Hell yeah …
Do you enjoy or get more satisfaction from creating and recording music or playing live and why?
IRO: They both give you immense satisfaction in different ways. Like ice cream and pizza!
Do you come from a musical family?
IRO: No. On the contrary 🙂
Who influenced as you developed as a singer/songwriter musically and lyrically?
IRO: Hmmm … There’s definitely a lot of Radiohead, a lot of haters, a lot of traveling, love, friendships, crazy psychiatrists, daddy issues and definitely a lot of lashing back from society wondering why I’m walking backwards (in their eyes).