I was lucky enough to catch up with Yossi Sassi on the Dublin leg of the Guitar Universe tour and chat to him about all things guitar.
So, Yossi it’s early days in the tour, Dublin Being the fourth of fifteen gigs on the tour, how has it been going so far?
Dublin is our fourth show on the guitar universe tour. It’s been going really well so far, we’ve been getting a really great reception, a really amazing response. For me personally I’m very happy I’m relieved because this was a concept of exotic G3 to have a tour that revolves around how the guitar sounds from different cultural aspects and diversities, to show the diversities of players around the world, so I’m very happy with the response to that.
You and Marty had met before and were impressed by each other’s methods, so was that one of the main purposed of the tour, to broaden the horizon for people in terms of guitar playing?
Exactly, me and Marty are good friends and have known each other for a few years now and I’ve had the chance to play with him live a couple of times. He also plays in my album Melting Clocks. We had this idea when we sat together once and he said ‘you know, I would never imagine someone would play the guitar the way that you do’, so I said ‘Thank you, also you play very different to many things that I used to hear’. We were so enthusiastic about the fact that this simple instrument, guitar with six strings can sound so different just by the hands and the soul and mind of different people around the world. So everybody picks it up in Japan, the Middle East or in Europe and it just sounds so different.
There are a number of bands in Ireland who are trying to do something similar to you in the way you approach your music, adding the Irish twist into metal. Bands like Celtachor and Primordial are doing this kind of Celtic approach to their music. Is ii important for you to incorporate your culture and tradition?
I’ve been a professional musician for over 25 years now and for me as a musician I always felt that the best you can do is really bring something from yourself, your region. For me there are influences from many bands from west and east, from Arabic artists to Joe Satriani. But the most unique thing I can bring is me and my region. I was raised in the Middle East and listened to everything from Turkish and Greek to Egyptian music and a lot of Balkan music. I heard a lot of Balkan music from broken ridges in 9/11 and 7/8s so it’s in my blood. I’ve heard this from when I was a little baby so for me prog rock is Balkan beats on the rhythmic part. On the more musical part it’s all the Arabic scales that don’t have a proper equivalent in the west, Like Makamat – they don’t have major or minor scales so it’s really special scales that we know. And when I bring this to the guitar it just sounds differently.
Would you agree that you are probably bringing something totally new to the tour?
You know, Stephan is a guitar virtuoso and does amazing things with his seven string Lag and Marty is a great friend and even before we were friends of course he was a great guitarist and had a unique vibrato and feel. I think I do bring my own thing to the tour and that’s really the idea behind it.
So Melting Clocks is your new release and it came out in March, can you tell us a bit about what went into its creation?
Well, I’ve been the founding member and composer, arranger and producer behind orphaned land for a few years now. It’s been my home and my life project but for the last few years I’ve been doing more musical collaboration and producing albums in Kuwait, Portugal and I’ve had the chance to play for a lot of different artists and to open up and evolve personally and it came to a point where even though I did a lot with orphaned land I had a lot of musicianship to express in me that didn’t find its place in the band I started when I was sixteen. In Melting Clocks I really just played and didn’t have to think about other things. It was a liberating experience for me. Orphaned land is a well oiled machine by now it’s a very mature band. With melting clocks I could do what I wanted and luckily the album got signed for distribution in Europe. The goal was to just make and album form the heart and a concept album. It is really concept album, it’s about a day in your life from the early morning through what revolves around the day, you job and up till the evening. If you listen to the album, up to the last melody, you relive the things that you’ve already had and you don’t change anything, we’re kind on slaves to time. We’re all tied to clocks and that’s really contradictory to human nature. It’s a reminder of who w are and where we are.
Any plans for future recordings? Is the solo career you main focus?
Definitely, Melting clocks is definitely not a onetime thing. It’s a long-term solo career and I already have material for more albums. I’m doing musical collaborations from all over; I’m going to work on the orphaned land album too. Definitely this solo career is something to stay.
Photography by Marc Leach