Israeli singer-songwriter, performer, composer and actress Riff Cohen is a inventive energy to be reckoned with. Her uplifting pop tunes, which she sings in a medley of French, Arabic, English and Hebrew, usually prime the music charts in Israel and are obtained with growing enthusiasm by followers in Europe and throughout the Center East. Earlier than the coronavirus outbreak she often crammed Israeli music venues, and tickets for her exhibits offered out repeatedly.

However the 36-year-old Cohen didn’t at all times benefit from the mainstream’s heat embrace. When she first started releasing her joyful melodies within the early 2000s, critics panned her as a loud eccentric. Maybe it’s as a result of Cohen adamantly refuses to observe the standard components that’s dictated to trendy, feminine pop singers.

The singer, who was raised in Tel Aviv by a French-Algerian mom and an Israeli father with Tunisian and French roots, stands out amongst her Israeli contemporaries along with her daring selection to not sing completely in English to up her attraction amongst worldwide audiences. As an alternative, her avante-garde compositions, which she belts out in a heavy French accent, are loving homages to her household’s Center Japanese origins. Thick with North African and French pop influences, they reference the experiences that molded her as a 3rd tradition baby.

Cohen can also be not prepared to change her look so as to please show-goers. In the event you anticipate to see a younger girl clad in skimpy outfits sensually dancing onstage, suppose once more. Cohen is extra more likely to be seen adorned in lengthy, modest clothes, shaking her wild mane of curls to the rhythm of the music whereas taking part in a number of devices directly.

In her youth, Cohen went via a decade of traditional vocal coaching and later studied musicology at Tel Aviv College. In 2005 she teamed up along with her mom Patricia, a poet who writes in French, and turned her mom’s shifting poems into groove-filled, vigorous songs. Three years later she moved to Paris, the place she expanded her expertise composing music on the piano after successful an inventive scholarship from the Cité des arts worldwide.

Riff Cohen gained’t tame her curls for any viewers. (CC-SA-3.0/ Yanai Yechiel)

Following her stint within the Metropolis of Lights, Cohen lastly launched in 2012 her first album. As its identify suggests, “À Paris” was deeply impressed by the point she spent in France. A month later, she was signed by document label AZ Information (the French affiliate of Common Music). Cohen has since returned to Israel, the place her second album, “A La Menthe,” got here out in 2015.

For a listener who has not visited this area, Cohen’s efficiency could appear over-the-top and perhaps even weird. However for everlasting immigrants like myself, whose lives have been altered by scuttling between Europe, the US and Israel, her music sounds similar to house.

So flip up the audio system, transfer over your furnishings and put together to be swept up by the gypsy spirit of dance with my three favourite songs by Cohen.

À Paris

The title monitor of Cohen’s debut album, this tune is a celebration of every thing that’s completely annoying and fabulous about life within the French capital. Her most well-known oeuvre to this point, it contains lyrics that proclaim love for the Parisian lack of parking spots and the beautiful parquet flooring that may be present in most residences. Cohen pokes enjoyable on the odd particularities of the haughty and eclectic metropolis, dancing and skipping alongside African migrants via tiny Parisian alleyways and markets in a enjoyable video that extols the charms of los angeles vie quotidienne.

Jean qui rit, jean qui pleure

A tune that’s as exhilarating as it’s pensive, it’s a quintessential Cohensque melody that completely demonstrates that je ne sais quoi which the singer clearly possesses and which makes her effortlessly lovable. Cohen sings about whistling on a solo journey amongst those that snort and people who cry, lurking within the shadows and selecting to see the sunshine. Anybody who suffers from temper swings (which of us don’t throughout these unusual days?) can most likely relate and luxuriate in this cheerful gem.


An early and fairly atypical tune, “Chut” is a harmonious, quiet and introspective quantity through which Cohen muses about her ardour for journey and her soul’s thirst to wander round with out settling down. She refers to herself as “the fowl,” and blames her ancestors for sporting a pair of wings on her again that quiver with a disquiet that sends her staggering via the sky.

Whereas the vast majority of Cohen’s songs function a carnival-like, colourful ambiance, right here the calm composition places into focus the artist’s spectacular management of her vocals. Considerably unhappy however self-accepting, it ends with the touching phrases: “I climb in a spin, I fall… I swirl, I let go.”

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