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3/19/2006 

An Interview With ...Blog In Dm

Welcome everyone to another edition of The J-Blogger Interviews. This week I am very excited to introduce you to a personal favorite of mine, BlogInDm, AKA Hasidic Musician. A guy who has written many important posts, including this one, which I myself have referenced many times. I like to think of BlogInDm as the BlogFather and consious of Jewish Music.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions, I’m sure everyone will enjoy reading your answers.

LOR: Where were you born?

BiDm: Jerusalem, Israel. The US government won't let me put the Israel part on my passport though.

LOR: What age did you start playing an instrument?

BiDm: I started formal lessons when I was seven, but I'd been playing by ear before then.

LOR: Do you recommend every parent to encourage their children to take up playing an instrument? If yes, describe why you think it's important.

BiDm: I'm curious why you chose to phrase the question this way instead of asking "if no, why not?". I believe that everyone has unique talents that they should develop. If a child is musically inclined, than their parents should encourage music lessons, if they paint or draw, the parents should encourage the development of those skills. I believe that letting ones talents go undeveloped is a form of ba'al tashchit.

LOR: Do you think that we will see a Heimish (or dare I say "Shiny Shoe") singer reach the level of a MBD or Avraham Fried again anytime soon?

BiDm: What do you mean by level? Regardless of whether you mean talent, sales, popularity etc, the answer is yes.

LOR: Do you find that limiting yourself to the subject of music is constricting to you?

BiDm: Nope. My life is a lot more than the blog. The blog just happens to be about music and music-related posts. Its no more constricting than any other form of specialty writing. I view the blog as essentially being my own op-ed page on J-music. Judging by the readership I've established, the responses I've been getting, and the number of websites (Jewish and otherwise) that have linked to me, a lot of people are interested in reading about these topics.

LOR: Are there other things that you would want to blog about?

BiDm: Sure. Currently, I've been considering writing about the murder of Ilan Halimi in France. I also thought about blogging my thoughts on the Gaza disengagement this past summer, but ultimately decided not to.

LOR: There is a new site opening soon called J-Tunes which will be offering downloads of Jewish Music. Do you think this will successful?

BiDm: I have no knowledge of the specifics of their business model. I think the Jewish community is ready for a legal download option, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable both buying and selling music through a well-known company like Apple via iTunes or other similar companies. The company you mention has already announced and postponed their launch a number of times. I just checked out their site again and while they are now in "public beta", so far it's not confidence inspiring.

LOR: What are your views on being able to download Jewish music, good or bad for the JM Industry?

BiDm: Are you talking about legal downloading? I think it's a good thing. It will enable more artists to get their music out there with less upfront expense because they won't have to manufacture CD's. Illegal downloading is another story. I get a huge number of hits from people looking for illegal Jewish mp3 downloads. These hits increase during bein hazmanim. Recently, I've begun posting PSA's at those times encouraging people to support creative Jewish music.

LOR: What do you say to people who claim Halacha doesn't say anything about "intellectual copyright" in other words, music isn't physical so its not stealing.

BiDm: I’d suggest they talk to a posek about the issue; the kind that doesn’t say it’s ok to cheat on taxes. They might also want to investigate the concept called “Dina d’malchusa dina.”

LOR: Where do you think the line is drawn between Loshan Hora and kosher J-Blog reporting.

BiDm: That's a good question. I believe that it is fair to report and comment on public information which is what I usually try to do. I think that private behavior that has no effect on the public should not be covered. The sticky part is when there is public information about private acts or private information about acts affecting the public. It's a balancing act between preserving the individual's privacy and protecting the community. I've run posts about unpleasant topics by Rabbonim with experience in that area for review.

I should point out that there are many bad actors in the frum community at large that rely on the public's ignorance of the Halachos of Lashon Hara to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions. This is an area in which I think blogs can have a huge positive impact.

Sometimes, some sensitivity is required. For instance, I wrote two posts about how the industry should respond to one performer's arrest in
Israel for highly inappropriate behavior. Many people know who I was referring to, but they didn't learn his identity from me. By design, neither of those posts mentioned his name, because since the people in the JM industry knew who I was referring to, it wasn't necessary to include his name in the post. I also deliberately didn't link to the many posts by bloggers or on websites who were naming him. Such nuance is often lost on some readers, but the intelligent ones get it.

Also, J-bloggers need to be careful not to ascribe motivations to others. I recently posted about a Bar Mitzvah I'd played that Chabad of Mineola had hosted for a 76 year old Holocaust survivor. One blogger whose opinion I respect was very critical of Chabad's actions due to a number of assumptions he'd made that happened to be untrue in this case. IMO, if he'd not ascribed motivations, he'd have avoided tripping up. The irony is that his underlying premise is unfortunately correct in some cases. Not this one, though.

LOR: Do you think by blogging about certain hypocrisies and reporting on real issues in the JM world that people in the industry will think twice about trying to pull fast ones on the consumers? In short, do you think we're making an impact?

BiDm: Absolutely. I’m not going to give examples here, but I’ve received emails from artists commenting on things I (and other J bloggers) have written. I know who many of my readers in the industry are, and I know that some have acknowledged making changes in response to issues raised on blogs. More importantly, the next generation of net savvy J –musicians all know that the free ride on this sort of thing is over. I am aware of a number of JM websites that have changed content in response to criticism from bloggers.


LOR: BlogInDm is a great name, but what if when you started it had been taken. What alternative name would your blog have been given?

BiDm: Blog in D Freygish

LOR: Which JM "star" would be most likely to have their own cereal box?

BiDm: Dedi

LOR: Which JM "star" would be most likely to have his own designer clothing line?

BiDm: Shloime Dachs

LOR: In your second post on your blog you wrote about the famous Yidden song's true origins. Today when people speak about Jewish Music copying goyish music without crediting the original source, Yidden is the first and probably still best example of this.

Why do you think MBD did it, and do you ever think he would talk about it, speak out against it, and show regret or anything along those lines?

BiDm: These are questions you should really ask MBD. Incidentally, Yidden isn't the first example of this. MBD had previously recorded Bobby Vinton's Melody of Love as "Shir Hashalom" and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Close Every Door" from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" as "Lichtiger Shabbos."

LOR: What's your message to young/new JM singers who might be thinking of borrowing "goyish" music and pretending it's their own.

BiDm: Don't do it. If you're going to use someone else's song, then license it and credit it in the appropriate way.

LOR: Do you think there is a level of hypocrisy that the same people who chastise Matisyahu have only prases when it comes to Reb Shlomo who, whether people like to hear this or not, went way beyond the lines of what's considered frum when dealing with his chevra.

BiDm: One one level, there is an element of inconsistency which is only human. But on the other hand, Shlomo isn't with us anymore. Matisyahu is. There is still the ability to impact what he does. Clearly, he's taken some of the criticism to heart. I believe that's why he's no longer stage diving at shows.

Also, Shlomo wasn't just a singer. He also taught a lot of Torah, single-handedly brought many Jews back to Judaism, and gave virtually all his money to tzedaka. He got results that Matisyahu hasn't and won't ever get singing Jewish reggae. And then there's the whole Yechi thing...

LOR: What's your favorite Jewish album of all time?

BiDm: It's hard to choose just one.

LOR: Could you try? Maybe name a few of your top albums.

BiDm: OK. Here are a number of albums that come to mind. This is hard to do. I’m sure I’m omitting many. I’m going to keep it limited to “Jewish” music for brevity. In no particular order, they are:

The New Neginah Wedding Album Volume 1. In my opinion this is the best Jewish wedding album (of NY Orthodox wedding repertoire.) Few of the musicians on that album play for Neginah anymore though.

  • Ruach – Vol. 1
  • Neshoma Orchestra – A Simcha Celebration (Vol.1)
  • Diaspora – The Diaspora Collection
  • Adi Ran – Ha’acharon Sheba’am
  • Yosef Karduner – Simanim Baderech
  • Shlomo Carlebach – In The Palace of the King
  • Issac Bitton — Songs for a Brother Volume 1
  • Piamenta – Mitzvah
  • Chilik Frank – Chasdei Hashem
  • Captain Dovid and the Rebbes of Rhythm
  • Kol Simcha – Crazy Freilachs
  • Gershon Veroba – Sasson V’simcha
  • London/Sklamberg/Caine – Nigunim
  • Mooshy - Assia
  • Hasidic New Wave - Kabology
  • Klezmatics – Jews with Horns
  • Margo Leverett – The Art of Klezmer Clarinet
  • Fleytmusic – Adrienne Greenbaum
  • Chaim David – A New Light
  • Andy Statman and Zev Feldman – Klezmer Music
  • Micki Rosenbaum – Psipas (Mosaic)
  • Yitzchak Attias – Gather The Sparks
  • Kesher - Vol. 1
  • Shlock Rock - Vol. 8
  • Avraham Fried – Avinu Malkenu
  • Lipa Shmeltzer – Letova
  • 613 Torah Avenue – Bereishis
  • Dveykus - Vol. 2

LOR: What are you listening to currently?

BiDm: Chaim David – Ma'aser Rishon

LOR: Who is your mentor musically?

BiDm: I don't really have one mentor. I try to learn from all of the musicians I listen to or work with.

LOR: Let's play Yes or No.

MBD's new album will be a huge success. Yes or No?

BiDm: No. But it will sell a lot of copies.

When Eli Gerstner releases The Chevra 3, with new singers. It will bomb tremendously. Yes or No?

BiDm: Yes.

Avraham Fried will have a new album by next Chanukah. Yes or No?

BiDm: Yes.

Will Chaim Dovid ever have another hit like Yamamai. Yes or No?

BiDm: Yes. He's writing some interesting tunes these days.

LOR: What advice do you want to give to someone who wants to start a career in the Jewish Music scene, band wise or CD wise.

BiDm: Be yourself. Be honest. Try to focus on your unique expression rather than trying to copy everyone else. Be very wary of producers who make promises they can't deliver. There are some real "winners" out there who will sell you a bill of goods. These guys are happy to produce an album that they know won't sell because, in addition to their fees, they get to direct a whole lot of money to their friends in the industry including musicians, studios, graphic designers, etc.

LOR: Would you advise future Jbloggers to blog about just one topic?

BiDm: Sure. If they're so inclined.

haha - that was such a jewish interview. he answered almost EVERY question with a question. i love it! Blog in Dm was actually the 1st blog i got addicted to (L-o-R was next).

that was great chaim. those were some EXCELLENT questions. how do you think of these things? cereal box... ROFL... i instantly pictured little sugar coated borsalinos. now! chocolate flavoured too!

Chaim - You're really good at this.

This was a really great interview (now that I finally found the time to sit down and read it!), yet again. BloginDM - really excellent, straight answers.

Great interview. And I'm honored that he named two albums that I'm on!

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