Avi looks at my phone, curious about the app recording our conversation. We get onto the subject of technology and the speed of communications. Prince comes up: I mention that I’m amazed how quickly his music has been is re-released (Purple Rain) only days after news of his death. Avi says that he is fortunate to be part of two worlds: art and business, allowing him and to understand their respective mechanics. Both, he says are creative, yet come from different parts of the emotional body. The world of business is quick to make money from the sudden consumer interest of his music. We talk about how we communicate socially and for work. As emails and texts have become the most common, telephone calls are often reserved for more serious talks, Avi ironically notes that phone calls do not hold up in court, but I say sometimes: more can be resolved by talking, more emotion conveyed by a quick talk on the phone. I remember when going out for an evening in Nottingham before mobile phones. When planning our night out, my friends and I would agree to meet at the town hall where there were two stone lions. We would specify to meet at the left Lion. Arriving on slab square you would see gatherings of people with the same idea. Avi then recalls a time in Jerusalem, when in 98′ the power and communication lines went down. At the age of eleven he was in new territory having to physically travel to his friends front door, greet their family and innocently ask “Are you playing”?.
Avi and I have been talking for forty-five minutes by now, its very engaging as we bounce stories between us. Avi moves onto Amsterdam; describing it as a hand-made city of concrete, grass and water culminating in a high quality of life. After a short time he knew he could settle here. In 2010 he was renting with his x-partner, both being artists it was a struggle, but using their creativity in art and business they rented out their spare room, forging a small Airbnb enterprise including private piano concerts to boot. For a time this solved their problems, but only until their landlord found out, they moved out in a dramatic fashion when the landlord illegally changed the locks. Avi’s partner was also pregnant so they had to find a place fast. He heard on the wind, there was a converted apartment in a horse farm in Zuid-Oost close to where we sip our tea today. So after being homeless for only one day they moved in. A few months later via home birth they had a son. Is this story a little familiar; home birth, Jerusalem, horse farm?
After living in the horse farm for a year or so, they needed a bigger place. Close by a new property became available, luckily they snapped it up before it was on the market. Sadly Avi and his partner separated, leaving Avi in this big house. These few years of his life had been full of change, emotion and the gift of his son. This followed by the death of his mother. Avi had to take a break from his life and take stock. He attempted to enrol on a program of Buddhist meditation called: Vipassana. Translated this means: To see things as they really are. He was refused, yet he was so committed to complete the meditation, he gathered the literature, rented a single roomed apartment and did it by himself.
Following the meditation he made peace with many things, and after completing his program at the Conservatorium Avi was aware of his power not only as a Pianist but also a composer. He brought over musicians from Israel, blending music from cultures and traditions into his aptly named debut album: Impermanence.
Find out more about Avishai Darash and listen to his music here.