You can tell right away that the Angelcy isn’t your usual rock band. The Tel Aviv-based group plays an unusual assortment of instruments, including a fife, a ukulele, and a toy guitar. There are two drummers, but they perform on a single drum set and only use their hands.
Clarinetist Uri Marom, a longtime member, says that’s why the band doesn’t look or sound like anyone else.
“I think the sound, to begin with, is very acoustical,” Marom says. “On stage, we don’t stand in a straight line. We stand in a half-circle to see each other. It’s the natural way for us to play.”
Founded by Rotem Bar Or in 2011, the six-member ensemble — three men and three women — has spent the last four years touring practically non-stop in Israel and Europe. Their energetic music is inspired by reggae, folk, and even cabaret.
“We come from a very diverse background,” says Marom. “Rotem was mostly self-taught. He’s been writing songs since high school and is a very dedicated musician. I, myself, have a classical music education and a master’s in orchestra conducting.”
The band was the winner in the performing arts category for the WeWork Creator Awards, held for the first time in Jerusalem. Bar Or performed live at the event on Wednesday, June 20.
Bar Or used to roam barefoot along sidewalks in Europe and throughout India, playing music and singing to passersby. During this stretch of time in 2006, he wrote many of the melodies that the band would still be playing more than a decade later.
By the time the Angelcy had 16 or 17 arrangements, they were ready to cut their debut album, Exit Inside. It took two years to record because of the pressure of touring.
“An album is a very hard process,” Marom admits, saying the group is presently working on its second. “It’s always taking longer than expected because you want to make it better and better.”
The Angelcy’s first break occurred when the biggest radio station in Israel, Galgalatz, added one of their songs, “Dreamer,” to its playlist.
“That was our first boost,” Marom says. Events such as Germany’s Fusion Festival and Israel’s InDNegev and Yaarot Menashe provided platforms to help the Angelcy built a big following. Within the next month it’s performing all over Israel, Germany, and France.
The group’s lyrics, exclusively in English, are sharp and purposeful. Marom says the choice was deliberate, but not without its challenges.
“If you sing in Hebrew in Israel, it’s easier to become popular in Israel,” Marom says. “But for indie bands that decide to sing in English, it lets us communicate with people all over the world.”
When Marom calls the Angelcy a family, he’s not joking. Performer Maya Lee Roman and sound engineer Gil Teleman bring along their toddler when the band tours.
“We’re not getting any younger,” Marom says, thinking back on the band’s early days when they were in their twenties and thirties. “Back then, we had no kids, no plans. When you grow older, it tends to be harder to move, harder to dedicate yourself 100 percent to something.”
But he says that it’s the sheer pleasure of performing together that matters most.
“Now is a pretty good time to be alive,” he says. “We try to keep going, and do it with joy.”