Ninet Tayeb: “I Decided To Listen To My Heart”

Ninet Tayeb on Israel Hour Radio: Hear the interview

I recently welcomed Ninet Tayeb to Israel Hour Radio (Episode #1005) and had a wonderful conversation with her. She’s fun, smart, determined, and never gives up. And her strong convictions have paid off.

Ninet’s been a household name in Israel ever since she won the very first season of “Kochav Nolad” back in 2003.

Ninet Tayeb in the “Kochav Nolad” Season 1 finale, singing “Yam Shel D’ma’ot”. Later that evening, she was declared the winner.

But since then, Ninet Tayeb has changed. A lot. She went from Israeli pop princess to English-speaking hard rocker seemingly overnight. And she lost most of her fans in the process.

And now, she’s climbing back to the top. How? “I followed my heart,” she told me.

While Ninet enjoyed overnight fame and fortune due to her success on “Kochav Nolad”, she was never truly happy. She felt that she was following someone else’s dream and not her own. And despite the advice of nearly everyone around her (and nearly EVERY resident of Israel), she decided to re-invent herself completely.

Now, fully aware of who she is and who she wants to be, she’s working harder than ever. This summer, she’s embarking on an extensive tour of the United States, opening for the legendary Zombies (“Time of the Season“) throughout the country. She’s performing some solo shows as well.

Will Ninet perform at Woodstock?

Ninet was thrilled to have been selected as one of the performers at the on-again, off-again Woodstock 50 music festival. So thrilled, incidentally, that she released a hard-rocking cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1970 classic, “Woodstock”.

Ninet Tayeb – “Woodstock”

While it looks like the festival is now cancelled for good, Ninet said that it was “a dream come true” to be selected, especially as “an Israeli act”.

Ninet’s career in Israel

Now living in Los Angeles, Ninet’s primary focus these days is her US career. However, she still flies home to Israel every couple of months to be “engaged with the audience over there”. She still performs many shows in Israel, and hasn’t given up on the Israel music scene. “Israel is my home, you know?” she told me. “As long as I live, I’m going to do both. That’s why I’m so exhausted.”

She’s also one of the stars of the hit Hebrew-language Netflix series, “When Heroes Fly”. I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t seen the show before speaking with her (I didn’t even know she was in it until a few minutes before our interview), but I’ve since watched five episodes – and I’m hooked. I promised her I would watch before I see her in Brooklyn on August 13. “You promise me? Really?” she asked. “I’m gonna test you, so be careful!” Bring it on.

The trailer for “When Heroes Fly”. WATCH. THIS. SHOW.

What’s next for Ninet Tayeb?

“What is next? Let me think,” Ninet said. “Yeah, I think just to conquer the world. That’s the plan, Pinky.”

Ninet’s reference to “Pinky and the Brain” from the 90s

Ninet Tayeb on Israel Hour Radio: Transcript

[Josh] Israel Hour radio. She is gorgeous. She’s insanely talented. She is the very first winner of Kochav Nolad, Israel’s version of American Idol, we’ve been a huge fan of hers for years. She’s a household name in Israel, and she’s hoping to achieve the same status here in the USA, doing pretty well. She’s about to begin a major tour of the US this summer and she’s also an accomplished television actress. Oh my god – Ninet Tayeb. I am so excited to welcome you to Israel Hour radio. Thanks for being here.

[Ninet] Hi! Thank you so much Josh. Thank you.

[Josh] So Ninet, that I’ve wanted to speak to you for years, so forgive me if I go back a little bit. Most of us know you very well, for those who don’t, tell us your story. Tell us your musical journey.

[Ninet] Oh my god!

[Josh] It’s long story.

[Ninet] Yeah, you will need a whole day for my story. Well, I started when I was 19, when I won the first as you said the first Israeli Idol, it’s like American Idol, it was like a long, long time ago, 15 years ago and I’ve been through so much ever since, I mean I started as, you know, like overnight. I became like the most famous figure in Israel and and for me as a teenager, you know, it was it was… I mean, I I knew nothing about nothing, you know. And I was still trying to find my way in music, and I mean my musical taste, my whole being, you know, and, wow, I’ve been through so much. I mean, I don’t know how to even explain, but to make this long story short, I just I started as like a really huge, like, I don’t know how to call it. If to call it like a pop figure or and I was trying to find my way and I decided to go and and just like search and find my musical taste. And I’ve always loved like, you know rock music this is what I grew up like with the music that I grew up on and I just made a like a detour and you know, I don’t have to call the detour a u-turn or whatever, and I decided to go and listen to my heart and then ever since (laughs) Things are like really. I’m just I’m just paving my way with with my both hands if I might say.

Yeah, I mean it’s it’s complicated to explain in like one minute I mean who’s ever interested, you know, just go and search for Information, but let’s say that I really love and need to do things my way.

Ninet’s Evolving Sound

[Josh] Well, so that was actually one of my questions I mean and I know a lot of our listeners have wondered about that for years. Back in the early days. You were singing regular Israeli pop music, the first song we heard after Kochav Nolad was “Kmo SheShir Noge’a”

[Ninet] Oh my god.

Ninet Tayeb – Kmo SheShir Noge’a

[Josh] it was wonderful and that’s exactly what we expected from you. But at some point, I don’t know exactly when it happened, your sound changed quite a bit. You became harder and edgier and you just sounded very different from the Ninet that we grew to love on Kochav Nolad. Tell me a little bit more about that progression. What happened? And how did you adapt over the years?

[Ninet] Well, I guess that I decided to listen to my heart, because when you get to this point of like this this amount of publicity and and and Fame if I if I might say so, and I was like, you know, I was a little child, I mean I was 19 and I just I was led by a lot of people that really wanted to make me a successful…you know, today I can dig that…I mean successful person or musician or whatever, but then I just realized that it’s not what I want.

I mean, I do want to be successful, but it has to be on my terms and it has to be the music that I want to sing because I was very very successful but I went to sleep like you know at night when I was so sad and I didn’t understand why. I mean, the album sold like platinum in like 24 hours and everything was like, like…LIKE, okay. You know what I mean?

Everything was kind of perfect from the outside, but on the inside I was so sad I was like, I don’t want to sing those songs. This is not me. I want to go and search and find my way and, you know, back then I lost almost everything, the audience and like the media started to like, you know go down, like say like really really nasty and bad things about me: How do I dare to go and play guitar, electric guitar? What do I do? I’m ruining my life, you know all kinds of sh– like that, I’m sorry, and then I was just like so determined, you know, I was like, okay, but this is what I want to do. I want to write my own music, I want to sing my own songs, I want to play my guitar, I want to learn you know, and and I just want to let myself learn and the thing is that I went through my, how do you say it like, my mature years if I might say like that like in front of everyone, you know in front of the whole country.

So it was like kind of hard because you know when we’re kids we’re still like developing…I mean also when we’re adults, but you know, those years are so important in terms of like find our own voice and I did it in front of everyone and you know, I mean it’s like making the mistakes in front of everyone and like everyone in Israel has something to say. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. It’s like, so Israeli, you know?

So it was like kind of hard because you know when we’re kids we’re still like developing…I mean also when we’re adults, but you know, those years are so important in terms of like find our own voice and I did it in front of everyone and you know, I mean it’s like making the mistakes in front of everyone and like everyone in Israel has something to say. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. It’s like, so Israeli, you know?

[Josh] Yes.

[Ninet] And I just like I’m well, I really went through a lot with this with this matter and but now I mean, I I think I’m in a good place where I finally…people know exactly when they’re coming to my shows, they know exactly what to expect, you know so I think in that matter I’m like, I’m cool. But we always have a lot to learn. That’s what I believe. Like. That’s what I’m wishing, you know, to myself for the future, to just keep developing and never never step on your like, You know always be in some kind of progress.

Ninet’s “Kochav Nolad” Victory

[Josh] Now if you don’t mind me going back a few years, about 15, tell me, if you can remember. What’s it like to hear, “the winner is Ninet Tayeb” on Kochav Nolad?

[Ninet] Well, I was I was actually I was about to…to faint, you know? Seriously, I didn’t feel my legs. It was a very special moment in my life, of course, And I cherish it and I, you know, it’s a big part of my life. But yeah, it was a long time ago, and I’m in a different place now.

[Josh] And I’m just gonna ask you one more question about that and tell me, why do you think that so many reality show winners just fade away? They become a huge deal for a few months, and just fade away, and what have you done differently to make sure that doesn’t happen to you?

[Ninet] I listen to my heart. Very simple, very simple. And I worked hard for it. You know, I didn’t give up. I think that’s the main…When you do something and when you do it from your heart and when you listen to your heart no matter what everyone else is saying at that point, you know, so you are so determined and you are so devoted to the cause to do whatever you want to achieve, you know, and I was very, very stubborn. I mean, I didn’t listen to anyone, only to myself.

[Josh] And it sounds like things have paid off, that that strategy has worked very well for you.

[Ninet] Thank God. Yeah, I think so, I mean, I’m still working on it. But yeah (laughs).

[Josh] Always evolving and that’s great.

[Ninet] Always evolving. Yeah.

Ninet’s USA Tour This Summer

[Josh] All right. So let’s fast-forward to today. I’m in love with your new cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock. We’ve played it here on the air. I know you’re very excited to perform at the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, we’re hearing all kinds of rumors about whether or not the festival will go on or not. Is there anything you can tell us?

[Ninet] Let’s just say that I have… like I believe that it’s going to happen, and let’s just wait for it tomorrow (laughs).

[Josh] All right, we’ll stay tuned. Well, let’s just assume that everything goes on as planned. What does an event like Woodstock mean to you?

[Ninet] Well, you know, it’s the most amazing thing. I mean, it was before I was born, you know, it was like ’69 and it was like, 50 years later, Here I am, I’m on this stage, like an Israeli act. For me. It’s like wow, it’s like a very very very big thing. And you know It’s like kind of like a dream coming true because it’s being on that stage and with the music that I’m playing today, you know, with my band. It’s like, wow, okay. But you know, I’m not gonna rest after we’re gonna be on on Woodstock stage. I mean, it’s like it’s only the beginning. Yeah, I’m just like okay, we’re having fun, but let’s keep on, keep on rockin in a free world, you know? (laughs). Yeah, yeah, always always. Keep on doing this. But it’s it’s a really really big thing for me, of course For all of us.

{Josh] Yeah, for sure. We can’t wait. You’re also performing all over the United States this summer, some shows by yourself, some with The Zombies. They’ve been around since the early 60s. How does a girl from Israel end up touring with The Zombies?

[Ninet] I don’t know! (laughs) This is so weird. I met them like five years ago in New York at some backstage show, and I mean, it just happened. I mean they saw me and my music and my and my you know on YouTube and stuff like that and apparently they really liked it. And then, here we are, We’re gonna be their opening act, which is also a big big thing for me. Yeah, Ninet from Israel, like okay. This is, this is happening. I can’t believe it.

But as I said, you know, I’m not letting anything…just like yeah, I’m going high, you know, but not in a way that would not make me, like, land and and keep on doing this. You know, right now after our conversation, I’m gonna practice my guitar so just so you know that it’s like it’s always like practicing and practicing and writing and you know, it’s always this this…How do I say it? Keep keep it rolling, you know?

Ninet’s Acting Career

[Josh] And I think that’s great. You’re always working, you’re always evolving … and you’re acting also. I’m embarrassed to say I have not seen “When Heroes Fly”. I didn’t even know you were in it, but now that I know I’m totally gonna watch the show.

[Ninet] You didn’t see it?

[Josh] I didn’t see it! I didn’t know you were in it! If I had known I would have turned it on right away! I would love to see you on that show. I just learned from a listener, David, and he told me… and he said I have to ask you: How do you have time for it all – a successful music career, a tour all over the United States, performing in Israel…How do you have time for your acting as well? And how does that fit into your life?

[Ninet] Well, when you do something you love you find time for it, and I mean, I I don’t know if I can call myself an actress because, like, the project the projects that I’m taking, they’re very very specific. You know, I need to feel really committed to the story and to the character and that’s why I took When Heroes Fly, because the story of Yaeli, the character that I’m playing, It just like like broke my heart and I was like, oh my god, I’m Yaeli! I have to do it! I have to like…and you know, I never take like projects that I don’t think that I can dive in. So with this one, I just I just I’m like, okay this this story is so…It’s heartbreaking and it’s and it’s and it’s beautiful and it’s about friendship and courage and you know PTSD…Soldiers that they’re like dealing with such a hurtful, you know, Subject and I was like, okay. I have to be part of this one. I mean I want to tell this story and this is how I pick the projects that I’m that I’m taking part in and that’s why, I mean, I find time for acting because as long as I feel it in my heart, so you know as I told you earlier, with music and acting is the same thing.

[Josh] Well, I promise you before I see you in in Brooklyn in August. I’m totally going to watch that show and I…

[Ninet] You promise me? Really?

[Josh] I promise you, I love this kind of stuff…

[Ninet] I’m gonna count on this.

[Josh] I hope to see you then and I will tell you then that I saw it.

[Ninet] I’m gonna test you, so careful.

[Josh] It would be my pleasure (laughs).

Ninet’s Israeli Music Career

[Josh] You’re living now in LA, correct?

[Ninet] Yes.

[Josh] And you’re touring all over America. I know you still go back to Israel to perform. I know you’re focusing very hard on growing your career here in the US, Is there a future for you in the world of Israeli music still?

[Ninet] Yeah, of course. Israel is my home, you know? I mean, yeah, forever. It’s gonna be both both ways. I mean here in the US and in Israel, that’s that’s why I’m so exhausted sometimes, (laughs) you know? But but yeah, yeah, as long as I live, I mean I’m gonna do both.

[Josh] So Hebrew music is still happening?

[Ninet] Yeah, yeah. Yeah not for now, you know because I need to choose I need to be very very focused on what I do like, you know in the present, but but yeah, I mean I’m flying to Israel every like two months, so, for work and for, you know, being with, being engaged with the audience over there. But yeah, it’s really important for me. You know, I came from there. So so yeah. As long as I have time.

[Josh] What’s it like to perform with a bunch of puppets, with Red Band?

[Ninet] Oh, I love them! They’re so great. They’re my second band, by the way They are, I love them so much, really. I think they’re gonna come to the US for you know, several shows. I mean, I hope so, I’m trying to convince them. But yeah, I’m gonna let you know and you can you can come as well

[Josh] I would love to. Ninet Tayeb is going to be all over the United States from coast to coast, you can find all the information to see her – and definitely go see her solo or with The Zombies. She’ll be all over the place. All the information is on our website, MyIsraeliMusic.com. Ninet, after this crazy summer of touring and doing all kinds of things, what is next for Ninet Tayeb?

[Ninet] What is next? Let me think.

[Josh] Tough question.

[Ninet] Yeah, I have so many on my plate right now…Yeah, I think just to conquer the world.

[Josh] Sounds good to me.

[Ninet] That’s the plan, Pinky. (Both laugh)

[Josh] Well, I want to thank you so much for being on our show, we love you, we’ve always loved you for the past 15 years, and it is a thrill to actually talk to you. I’ve never seen your live in person, but going to see you in Brooklyn in August and I cannot wait.

[Ninet] Thank you so much, Josh.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: