Israeli DJ shows culture outside news coverage

By Assistant Campus Editor

Israeli DJ Eyal Rob visited the college Nov. 11 to give a master class on the music scene in his hometown of Tel Aviv, and the art of sampling traditional media in new music.

Rob said a major part of his mission is to show the culture of Tel Aviv and the whole country of Israel in a way not often seen in the mainstream media.

Rob’s appearance was organized in partnership with the college’s chapter of Metro Chicago Hillel, an organization that provides opportunities for Jewish students on college campuses. The event also provided music students a chance to earn their required recital attendance credit, according to Rosita Sands, acting chair of the music department, in a Nov. 11 email.

Melissa Fitzgerald, a senior business & entrepreneurship major, said she spent nearly a year organizing and promoting the event. She originally wanted to host it in Spring 2014, but Rob was planning to tour the U.S. this fall, so she postponed his appearance because it was logistically better to fly him in from New York City than Tel Aviv, she said.

Christina Parchem, a senior cultural studies major, said she decided to stay for the event because learning about other cultures brings more perspectives into the artistic conversations on campus. She said she also plans to take the “Club DJ Practicum” class next semester.

“I’m just hoping to learn more about the art of DJs and what it looks like in other countries because that’s fascinating to me,” Parchem said.

Rob said he loved records from an early age because he was not a very skilled musician. He worked in his grandfather’s record shop and became a DJ on a whim after finishing a friend’s set at a club, he said. He has since been a regular DJ in Tel Aviv while teaching as a University professor. Rob also tours as a lecturer and DJ in the U.S. He was approached by Columbia College Hillel to speak to the music students at the college and said he immediately jumped on board because students are the type of audience he wants to reach.

“They understand and connect with the message I’m trying to bring, which is basically a cultural outlet about what’s going on rather than speak about this conflict or that conflict—the boring redundant stuff,” Rob said.

Rob said many people have strong feelings about the territorial issues that have dominated the news. He said he wants to show that there is more to the story, evoking a club scene in Israel that exists outside the conflict with Palestine.

“Music is very accessible, especially for people at a young age,” Rob said. “Music can really change things. These are the things that are normally left aside when you talk about a very complex and paradoxical place, such as the place where I come from. My modest effort is to shed a little bit of light about things that normally wouldn’t be mentioned when you hear the name Israel.”

During Rob’s lecture, he was asked by an audience member if he felt music has helped unite diverse groups, which prompted him to show videos of his group Soulico working with Saz, a Palestinian rapper who performs in Arabic to give his answer.

“He’s got mean skills,” Rob said. “Not everything should be political. Sometimes it should be for the sake of the music. I’m a musician. I’m not a politician. I’m not going to hold a grudge [against] any other musician. If you’re good, you’re good.”

Christina Alexandru, a sophomore cinema art + science major, said she stayed for Rob’s lecture after she found out he was a DJ from Israel because she is interested in learning more about different countries and cultures.

“As artists [in a] broad spectrum of creative works, we have to know the outside world and what’s there,” Alexandru said. “There is just so much to our culture and other cultures that we should be a part of and learn about so we can respect it and do our work well.”