Lala, “The Lady” in Moroccan.
With virtuosic vocals delivering ancient Ladino hymns to electronic pop beats, and a striking stage presence, LALA is the new Eastern muse. Set to release her self titled debut album in summer 2019, LALA’s music draws from the well of traditional Moroccan women songs with an unapologetic attitude, creating a new genre on the seam of world music, pop and dance. Call it what you may - LALA’s feminine presence and rare voice transcend genres to meet the listeners directly through their hearts and hips.
Born in Israel’s Galilee to Brazilian-Moroccan parents, LALA (Tamar Bloch) discovered the mystery of the ancient Ladino hymns of her heritage in her early twenties. Having grown up in an area of Israel that was predominantly of European heritage, LALA’s interest in these hymns was in essence a quest to reclaim an identity that had been suppressed for almost two decades. Ladino, and more specifically “Haketia”, a rare dialect from Spanish Morocco, perfectly fit Tamar’s hybrid identity; a woman rooted in the cultural seam between Latin and Arab, between East and West.
Over the last decade, LALA has studied classical Moroccan musical traditions and invested long hours uncovering old ethnographic recordings of Moroccan women singing in Haketia from the National Archive in Jerusalem. Painstakingly transcribing the lyrics, LALA’s journey to reclaim her heritage began. She delved deeper and deeper into these ancient melodies, beginning a process that would eventually give birth to the first contemporary album sung exclusively in Haketia. LALA had to smuggle the recordings out of the Hebrew University by recording them on her cellphone, and co-founded the Jerusalem Moroccan fusion band Zaaluk. Although they first set out to sing in classic Ladino, it soon became clear to Tamar that her voice and identity find their deepest expression in Haketia. The ancient hymns from the archive started to claim new life in a modern live show, and the band toured all over Israel.
In parallel to her work with Zaaluk, LALA joined forces with flamenco maestro Ofer Ronen to complete the trio Ancient Groove, performing in venues and festivals such as Fundacion Tres Culturas in Sevilla, International Sephardi Music Festival (Cordoba), International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam and many others across Holland, Portugal and Israel. She also joined as a guest singer with Ronen’s Hamsa Hamsa at the Barcelona festival La Merce in 2018.
LALA is also active in the Jerusalem collective Andelucious, noted for their rendition of Algerian classic “Hassebni” that has made digital waves, facilitating communication with Moroccan and Algerian fans. Tamar and Andelucious were invited to Morocco in 2018 to perform in The Essaouira Atlantic Andalusia Festival, sparking waves of enthusiasm in her mother’s birthplace.
In 2017 LALA and Zaaluk approached Ori Winokur, one of Israel’s most established producers (Asaf Avidan and the Mojo’s, Lola Marsh etc) to create a new album in Haketia. An explosive creative connection was established, LALA bringing her powerful voice and unique foothold in the lost language of Haketia, and Winokur bringing cutting edge Pop music production and dancefloor groove. Eventually the band parted ways, and of this encounter the new identity of LALA was born.
As work on the album progressed, LALA’s striking presence started getting noticed by the Israeli film industry. She was casted for acclaimed director Amos Gitay’s film “A Tramway in Jerusalem” alongside french movie star Mathieu Amalric and Israel’s top tier actresses (acclaimed singer Achinoam Noa Nini, Yael Abeksis), where she sings in Haketia with her traditional Qrakeb castanets in the film’s closing scene. In parallel, LALA’s intense year in the studio has given rise to her self titled debut album, to be released in summer 2019. Cleverly blending Morroccan violins, powerful vocals and tightly packed electronic production, LALA’s debut is set to make an immediate impact on the industry, exciting pop enthusiasts and world music collectors alike. Feminine, radiant, and deeply connected to her roots, LALA is claiming her place in the constantly evolving ecosystem of hybrid ethnic music.
Embodying a cultural mission that goes far beyond preservation, and poised to reinvent a language and tradition that was nearly buried, LALA is currently on tour in Israel. Her uplifting stage persona, wild Moroccan dance moves and sensual vocals are moving crowds to their feet, singing in unison in Haketia, defying genres and bringing her ancient heritage new life, hips shaking and hands clapping.