So much of the best art is born out of resistance, or is propelled by the energy of pushing back against something. Gon – singer/songwriter Gon Halevi — will release his debut full-length album, Diagonal Fields, on October 25 via CEN/The Orchard. Reactionary in all the best ways, the music manages the rare trick of being personal, political, and deeply humane. With this news, Gon shares his first album track, “Breaking Out” – enjoy via Youtube.
“Breaking Out” is buoyed by the ebullience and range of Gon’s voice, which dips and soars effortlessly, wrapping the track with a sense of longing and, more often than not, a barely contained joy. The song speaks to the excitement and fear that are inherent in coming of age and coming into one’s own. Though he wouldn’t necessarily think to call himself first and foremost a gay songwriter, Gon is quick to point out the importance of being out—both in his life and in his songs.
Gon came to New York by way of Tel Aviv, and the swirling culture clash of identity and experience made for fruitful, if still somewhat uneasy, songwriting. New York is seen as the place that will make everything happen, but life doesn’t work this way – it wants us to yearn for something so badly that we are willing to risk everything, be courageous, vulnerable, fail, then try again. “Breaking Out” was written after a wave of blame and hatred for New York, and sees Gon making a commitment to be responsible for his future and to not let a cold, heartless, crazy, stunning city dictate what he is going to feel or be.
The idea of finding oneself is at the core of Diagonal Fields, and Gon is quick to recognize the somewhat unusual nature of his trajectory.
Gon explains: The short version is that I moved to New York to study opera singing and somewhere in the middle of it I stopped liking it. So I kind of stopped doing opera and started doing my own music, performing in small venues. Despite being an atheist, I paid my tuition by performing for Jewish community centers and synagogues. At some point, a cantor of a congregation in Florida asked me to perform there, and they gave me a big enough budget to bring the musicians I wanted to have up on stage with me. It was the first time I heard my music played the way I wanted it to be played. Once I heard that rich, deep sound of a rock band, choir, and a string ensemble, merge around my music – I got all the confirmation I needed to start working on my album.
The eleven tracks on Gon’s full-length debut, Diagonal Fields, strike a delicate balance between piano-driven ballads and perfectly augmented cinematic chamber pop, all wrapped around a voice that is by turns plaintive, deeply emotive, and—for lack of a better term—swooningly operatic.
After years of opera training influences and both speaking and singing in Hebrew, Gon shifted his focus to his own songwriting, peeling away the classical music gestures to find his own voice. “All of those years of study are still in there, but it’s almost like I had to un-learn all of that stuff in order to find myself, in order to just simply be me,” he explains. “I felt safe in the music, but vulnerable in the words. I wrote lyrics in English because I didn’t feel as exposed that way, it was another way to hide, to escape. Now I realize that all of these songs, in some way, are trying to talk about the same things. I had a lot of unsolved issues with my parents, with myself, and it explores the reasons why I wanted to leave home and just run away to find some peace with myself.”
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements on the horizon.