Respect | Lior Ben-Hur

Irie Magazine - September 2015 - Lior Ben-Hur

Lior Ben-Hur

Meet Lior Ben-Hur. With their positive message, uplifting melodies and unique and refreshing approach to Reggae, this San Francisco based band represents a new generation of Reggae and World music.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel with Greek and Iraqi roots, Lior Ben-Hur has traveled to over a dozen countries where he spent time learning, performing and sharing experiences with musicians and artists around the globe.

For the last ten years, Lior made his home base in San Francisco, CA. In 2011 he formed this band, which in 2012 released an eclectic World music album under the name Sol Tevél. The album sheds new light with contemporary interpretations on old Jewish texts, ideals and mysticism.

Along with his 7-piece band, Lior Ben-Hur continues to focus on his passion for Reggae music, which has been a key inspiration on his musical creativity and spirituality. Collaborating with leading artists such as Jah Levi and Marcus Urani of Groundation, the band completed their self-tiled EP and is currently recording a full-length album that will reveal their deep passion for Reggae and demonstrate their ability to perform high-energy roots music.

2015 has been a good year for Lior Ben-Hur. The band has opened for well known reggae acts like Groundation and Black Uhuru. They’ve also performed at festivals like Reggae On the River, sharing the stage with Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley, Tarrus Riley and Alerta Kamarada to name a few.

IRIE magazine recently caught up with Lior Ben-Hur at the ‘OLD JERUSALEM’ in the Mission District of San Francisco, to reason about Reggae and World music.

The Interview

IRIE. When did you first get involved in reggae music?

Lior Ben-Hur: I got into reggae right after I first moved to San Francisco about 11 years ago and it was mainly through Bob Marley. I listen to his songs and was very drawn to this African/Jamaican music with an Old Testament connection. Bob Marley & The Wailers’ music gave me a lot of confidence to be more out there and to sing freely. It really made me connect to places in my heart and helped me be comfortable in front of people singing Reggae music.

IRIE. You are the frontman for the band and you sing and play guitar. When did you learn to play guitar and why did you choose this instrument?

Lior Ben-Hur: I started playing guitar when I was 12 in Jerusalem, Israel. I was inspired by a good friend of mine who played electric guitar. When I heard him play, I felt that this was something that I needed to do so ask my parents to buy me guitar. They were very happy to support me since my mom was also a musician who played the accordion.

IRIE. How did you all meet to form Lior Ben-Hur?

Lior Ben-Hur: I met most of the band members at San Francisco State University where we all attended a World/Jazz program at the music school. We all played in different ensembles at the school including a Persian music ensemble, Cuban music and Jazz. After we graduated, I asked them to join me in this World/Reggae project.

We recorded a Jewish World music project under the name ‘Sol Tevél’ in 2012 and have been playing regularly ever since. We are very close… these guys are my family away from home.

IRIE. Do you remember the first time you went into a studio to record reggae?

Lior Ben-Hur: The first time I entered a recording studio was in Kingston, Jamaica. I was traveling there, doing my own adventure while exploring Reggae and Rastafari and searching for my own connection to them. I met a talented musician friend named Maroghini. He took me to a friend of his named Jah D to record a Reggae song to the Hebrew prayer Modeh Ani – which is the Jewish prayer of giving thanks in the morning. We went into the studio, arranged it together and recorded it in few hours. It is an experience that I will never forget. It gave me much inspiration to continue on this path.

IRIE. IRIE Magazine has had the honor to watch you perform live on the big stage of festivals like Reggae on the River as well as cool venues like The Independent in San Francisco. What is the experience like playing live in front of your fans?

Lior Ben-Hur: The experience of being in front of the audience for us is like picking the fruit of our hard labor. It’s the best thing we know how to do and love. We are practicing constantly, writing and rewriting songs and it’s all for that moment when we connect with the audience in a musical and spiritual space. For us, music is about giving and receiving, and although we enjoy very much to play music at our rehearsal, we can’t do that to its fullest without an audience. It’s simply the best thing we know how to do, what we love to do and what we want to do more.

IRIE. Who are some of your musical influences?

Lior Ben-Hur: Growing up in Jerusalem I listened to many styles of music. A lot of Rock and Pop from the US and England; Greek music, Arabic music and Israeli music which, to a certain degree, is really ‘world music’.

Some of my heroes growing up included Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, the Beatles and many more.

IRIE. What does reggae mean to you?

Lior Ben-Hur: Reggae for me is a very rooted musical expression and calling for liberty, freedom, equality, social justice with a strong spiritual component of African approach to Old Testament values and ideal. It’s a meeting point of African tradition and culture with Jewish history and ideology.

IRIE. What can we expect from Lior Ben-Hur in the near future?

Lior Ben-Hur: We just released a new self-titled EP this past June which reveals some of our approach and sound of Reggae and world music. We are starting to work on a new album this month that will be released in January 2016. The album combines my Jerusalem roots with my love for Reggae and world music, and with the help of all the band members, makes a Jerusalem-California-Jamaican connection.

IRIE. What advice would you someone looking to play reggae music?

Lior Ben-Hur: My advice to any reggae musician or really any young musician is to be true and authentic to whom they are and let music be an expression of whatever that may be.

IRIE. Give thanks, Brother! Irie Magazine Logo

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