Honing the sublime arts of implied groove and rich, silky warm basslines, the Israeli collective and record label Punch have been vigorously staking their claim to international dancefloors since the mid 90’s. A creative family of passionate artists, their musical roots date back to the original, emotive techno of the early 90s. and as they delve deep into those fleeting, hypnotic, organic flavours and spin them out into a rolling future with a heady twist of inspiration. Bursting out of the barricades and taking the techno world by storm, their rich grooves and implicit, seductive imagination are carving a throbbing new vein across the electronic community. We caught up with Nir Shoshani form Punch for a quick word and an insight into the concepts, players and currents within Punch.
Can you tell us about the history of Punch
I first met Amotz Tokaty (the label manager) 10 years ago in Jerusalem. He was a journalist, writing a story about new music which I was about to release at that time. 8 years later we met by chance and after a brief discussion decided to found Punch Music, looking to provide a home for ourselves along with a few talented friends. Since then we formed a solid group and released various tracks which earned highacclaim in the dance music industry.
Tell us a little about the crew and their individual stories
The crew is comprised of: Nir Shoshani: Born in Jerusalem, currently resides in Tel Aviv. A DJ and Producer since 1996. Functions as the label A&R.layes live and DJ sets worldwide. Amotz Tokatly: Born in Jerusalem, currently resides in Tel Aviv. Has a rich background in the local nightlife press, produced one of the biggest selling national news magazines. Functions as the label manager. Muzarco: Born in Jerusalem, currently resides in Tel Aviv. Created and released electronic works since 1999, started DJing in 2004. Miki Litvak: Born in Givataim, currently resides in Ramat Gan.Producing and DJing since 1996.
Where is the balance for you between technical expertise and pure inspiration: Every artist has a different balance of both. As I see it, it’s impossible to succeed without having both. You can be inspired, but without the technical know-how your inspiration will not be realized in a satisfying manner by today’s high standards, while you can be a technical master but without inspiration your music will sound dull and uninspiring.
How do you define that intangible quality that gives music soul
When music delivers a sense of sincerity, be it emotional or ideological, I consider it to be soulful. For example, a performing artist will perform with soul when they honestly connect with the performed material.
How important is it for a label to have a strong identity and ethos over and above simply releasing music
For me, it is very important to see the label as a carrier of a coherent message, rather than just a business. Traum, Get Physical, Bedrock and M_nus are good examples of labels that I consider as musical leaders, which is what we’ve set Punch Music to be.
Is running a label more and more of a labour of love as staying financially afloat becomes ever more difficult
The main motivation behind running Punch Music was and still is love and passion for music. As label owners, we’re constantly adapting to the changing industry. For example, we’re doing all artist management and booking in-house.
How have you evolved as artists since you first started out
I’ve been forging my sound and developed my style along the years, moving between genres such as house, electro and techno, trying to isolate the perfect elements in each. As time went on, my style got increasingly focused and my sound reflects the hard work and long hours spent in the studio since I started.
How has the Israeli scene developed since the early 90’s
The Techno scene in Israel emerged at the mid 90’s in the underground scene of Jerusalem, with brief appearances in Tel Aviv as well. After growing gradually, the scene exploded in the late 90’s-early ’00s and became a mainstream success with big DJs such as Richie Hawtin and Derrick May playing on a weekly basis. Around 2005, the scene declined with most big clubs shutting their doors, making room for smaller clubs, and more mature audience. Since then, the scene got bigger and wiser, with an audience which appreciates good parties and venues better suited for world-class performances.
What impact does active military service have on underground culture in Israel
The obligatory military service has an impact on the younger audience members. (aged 18-21) Being confined to one place and having their freedom restricted for the better part of their time, many soldiers find parties to be the ultimate way of letting go of their hardships of daily service. This is felt at parties as the younger audience members are usually amped and react to the music with high energies.
In such a politically charged dynamic – how important is it for the music to speak for itself. Do politics have any place in music
I see national politics as a low, manipulative and petty phenomenon. Music should always aspire to transcend politics and communicate in a unifying manner.
Do young Israeli clubbers feel part of a global movement
Yes. You can meet Israeli clubbers in virtually any dance event taking place worldwide.
Has the digitalisation of music made it ever more disposable
Yes. Technological developments made it easier to produce and distribute music. Nowadays it’s a time consuming effort to find music to your liking as so many tracks are being released with lower quality control as production costs went down considerably. Also, contained in a non-physical form, it’s easy to consider them as drops in an ocean of music, rather than creations of lasting appeal.
What are your current projects as we stand today and what pushed you in that direction
My current projects are Techno-oriented, featuring dense, dark atmosphere, warm grooves rich with bass.
How do you see the future and ultimately – what’s the dream: My vision is of all of Punch Music’s artists appearing in all major venues and festivals. I see Punch Music becoming a leader in style and originaliy.