Interview with Oz Noy

Meet amazingly talented New York/Israeli guitar player Oz Noy in the interview with Soundeon team and get to know him better!

Hi Oz! Could you tell when did your musical journey start?

I was 10 years old, I was still living in Israel and I wanted to play drums. My mom actually started to look for a drum teacher for me. Then somehow, I had a friend of mine in school who was studying guitar, so he asked me to join him for a guitar lesson and I went. And I don’t remember it being anything special, I don’t remember enjoying it or being excited. But I started playing guitar right after that.

Did you study anywhere else except for personal lessons?

I never studied academically. I wish I did. I am not self-taught, though. I had two very good private teachers in Israel, and then I moved to New York in 1996, and that was it. Here I only took two guitar lessons: one from Mike Stern and another one from Pat Martino. That’s it.

Do you feel the need for academic studies sometimes?

Yeah, absolutely! I am actually studying ear training now. When the COVID-19 thing started I thought: “Oh, I have so much time, I need to do something new”. If I could, I would have gone to school, to university. And I thought about it over the years, but it never worked out. Maybe one day, when I’m an adult I’ll study properly (laughing). I think in a jazz scene, even if you’re self-taught, people appreciate academic studies. In a rock scene, it’s a little less of a thing. But for me the more knowledge you have, the better.

Oz, was it hard to find your musical style or did it evolve naturally?

I wasn’t looking for it, it just evolved. It’s not easy to be a good musician, you have to work on it really hard. I’m not sure, that “hard” is the right word, but it’s an effort all the time, you know. It never ends. To me, it doesn’t sound like I have my own voice, because I hear all the different influences when I play. There is a kind of a wall you have to break, that has to do with people giving names to certain styles of music like this sounds like jazz, this sounds like rock, funk, blues, etc. And it’s all fine, it needs to be there, but I think that because I like everything and I played everything growing up, it somehow worked out. When it was time for me to just play what I want to play, I said: “It’s music, so I don’t really care what genre it is, I’m just trying to mix them all, because that’s what I like”.

Who influenced you when you were starting?

Oh, so many…I really listen to all the greats, I’m trying to be aware of everybody. From Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burell, and it goes up to all the modern guys like John Scofield, Pat Martino, Kurt Rosenwinkel. I grew up studying jazz, but I’m basically a studio guitar player, so I always played rock, pop, blues. So, there was an influence from Steve Ray Vaughan, B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton. I try to listen to all the good guys.

Listen to the playlist made of the most listened artists and get inspired with Oz Noy

Where did you get that love for music?

I don’t know, because my parents are not musicians at all. I think I just listened to music on the radio in Israel. The thing that influenced the most was the Beatles. And I remember when I started playing the Beatles in front of my brother, I thought that it was kind of cool. Then my dad bought me this little pickup, you can glue on to the guitar, and my brother started playing bass and that was it. Our neighbors weren’t really excited about it (laughing).

And where do you get your inspiration from while the pandemic?

I don’t have a problem getting inspired at all, it doesn’t really matter, because I listen to different kinds of music all the time. And I’m trying to be open to it despite all that is going on right now. The only thing is that now everything is stuck, so I don’t have any plans except for the new records and a couple of side projects.

How is the situation in New York? How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you and your work?

Everyone is doing things remotely, it’s great for what it is, but music is for human interaction. So, when you don’t have it, it’s not good. All of my concerts everywhere were canceled. The online activity works but only to a certain level. I believe that everything will go back offline as soon as this is over. But actually, the pandemic helped me in some way: everything is stuck so you get a chance to stop and look back at what you’ve done and what you want to do. But of course, the whole situation sucks.

Do you remember, what difficulties you faced when you were just starting the career? What is different now in the industry?

I’m not a fast learner, it takes me a little bit of time, so I have to work on stuff. Nothing comes to me quick, so everything for me is a little challenging, and takes effort to keep it going. The industry has definitely changed. It helps if you have a manager, a record label, but they don’t have as much power as they used to do. Now it’s more valuable to do things by yourself and create a community. I guess the audience want more direct contact with an artist than before. If you have good online skills, then you’ll do better than others. Unfortunately, even if you are not as good of a musician. It’s a weird thing, the rules have changed.

Oz, could you give any advice to young artists as a final word of our conversation?

First of all, this COVID-19 thing is going to end, and things will go back to what it used to be. The essence of music, live music will stay the same, people will leave their houses. And another thing is to do what you love and don’t worry about it. The industry changes, so you have to adapt. If you have to play a different genre or also become a musical engineer, or a writer you just have to do as many things as you can to make things work. If you love music and want to do it, then do it and don’t worry about it.

We thank Oz for such fun and nice talk and hope that soon we’ll be able to listen to his new releases live!

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