Gamechangers: Irit

Tanyel Gumushan /
Jan 11, 2018 / Music

Irit Dekel grew up as something she calls a “key child.” This means that when her mother worked late into the evening, she wore the key to enter their flat on a yellow necklace around her neck.

As a child she admits that she had above average social skills, due to living in a block which also housed a lot of other children and their consequent devoted relationship. Irit’s adventure continued into her teen years and it was her mother’s mission to keep her active. She danced in a folklore company, played the flute and keyboard, did gymnastics, was part of the school volleyball team and kept a diary. The diary may be why as a musician, she has such a way of telling stories. Her forthcoming album, Hello, could well be an autobiography, or the dramatic score to a play about a woman who has lived a phenomenal life.

Irit doesn’t have the typical musician life story. She is in no way, typical. Being born and growing up in Israel, her culture shaped her to be the quick-witted, sharp personality that reflects in the upbeat and fast moving music. Completing compulsory military service and becoming a sniper at a young age shaped her character, and her achievements in training taught her to never underestimate herself. Testing herself as a comedian and TV presenter showed Irit that she should always do what she believes in, so left the theatre to create her vision. That’s why, as a musician, Irit’s self truly shines.

“I’ve always loved to sing and play instruments. I remember a certain point that I knew with all of my heart that I wanted to take it to the next step when I saw another Israeli play. Watching them perform was so brilliant that I remember it even hurt to watch, I couldn’t breathe normally. From that moment on, I thought to myself that there’s so much magic there and I wanted to be part of it.”

The music tells its own story and it’s told with a signature shine. Her voice trills like a lovely songbird, whilst sounds from around the world weave their way around in distinct harmony. Undoubtedly personal, the songs have been crafted with love and are a result of Irit fully embracing herself. For Irit, the biggest thing in her life is happiness. She finds the topic tricky, for it traverses beyond and above time. “It’s understood and it’s misunderstood at the same time.” From love and health to inner peace and creativity to humour and luck, there are many possibilities for happiness and all are explored in Hello. Power ballad, ‘Throw Him Away’ cathartically releases toxic people from her life, whilst ‘Heavenly’ takes the reins on the years passing by and encourages listeners to focus on what they want. ‘Seen It All’ is heart-strikingly emotive, and talks about her home of Israel.

Irit puts her direct nature and sharp tongue down to her culture, admitting that at times she has to breathe slowly and count to ten as patience isn’t one of her strong points. She can be very loud, both vocally and in her body language. But these traits come with a good sense of humour. “That’s just part of being Israeli I think…

“ I don’t know if it’s part of growing up in Israel but since I was a child I knew that no matter what was going to happen to me I would manage. I think it’s beyond a geographical issue of where I’m from, it’s just within me.”

As a country of many rich cultures, Irit references the variety of food on offer and talks fondly about the travels that you may embrace if you were to visit. If you were to travel from the North to the South with a tent in hand, you would be able to find fresh streams to cool yourself in, and set up bonfires for cool nights. The journey would take about six months by foot and it would show you sea, lakes, forests, mountains, snow and the Dead Sea.

Military service is simply part of the reality of Israeli life, and for Irit’s period she was based in a mixed women and men combat unit – something quite rare. Her commander was also a woman, and is now an excellent painter. She recommended Irit to her commanders as a suitable candidate to train as a sniper. Irit says that this woman saw something in her that she never did. After training, she returned to her unit and started her role as a sniper. She didn’t kill or hurt anybody, and she didn’t need to. “Then I thought that it could have been really good if I could have trained as a paramedic as well. It taught me that you could do anything with the right attitude.”

What Irit would really like to see in the world is compassion, respect and understanding towards each other as human beings, and also towards animals and nature. She fears for what may happen if mistreat were to continue as it has. “To me it is horribly wrong and is a crime that we will pay for severely. How could we get there? I believe through education. Everything is through education and love in my opinion.”

Releasing Hello is the next step in Irit’s colourful career, and it’s going to be a burst of colour into everybody’s ears. Under the surface of the danceable, lovable songs are stories that will strike your heart and a woman who you’ll be honoured to get to know. Irit will make you want to be daring, and in that you will find strength.

Words by Tanyel Gumushan

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