By: Elad Avigan
צילום: Jason Ryan
Sam, first of all, thanks a lot for doing this. It means a lot to us.
We will start at the very beginning, your childhood: What kind of music did your parents used to listen to?
My dad liked listening to opera and classical music, but my parents also had albums by The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. I always think that’s where our love for melodies and harmonies started.
Who were your favorite musicians growing up?
I was a huge ABBA fan as a kid. I sang along with their records in the living room and dreamed of seeing them live one day. In my adolescent years, I got into the Eurythmics and specifically Annie Lennox. I saw them live when I was 17 years old and that show was so amazing, I lost track of time. I was mesmerized by Annie Lennox.
צילום: אלעד אביגן, אוסף פרטי
At what point did you realize you wanted to be a musician yourself?
I don’t think I really realized it until it started happening. All these little puzzle pieces started falling into place, even though I never dreamed that that was a realistic career for us.
What's the single most influential album you ever listened to?
There is no one album. It’s a combination of so many influences, from the Beatles to Abba to the Indigo Girls to Taylor Swift.
K's Choice is celebrating 30 years of music this year. Looking at the changes in the music industry then and now, is there anything you miss from the old days?
Healthier bones. Of course there are things I miss, but I don’t dwell on that too much. Every era has its strengths and positives. I’m just happy we can still play live and people still want to come listen to us, that’s what matters most.
You recently released your first new single in years, "Time Is A Parasite", an energetic return to the very distinctive K's Choice sound. Please tell us a little bit about it.
Gert and I wrote it from a distance, that was challenging. But we did it and I’m very proud of it. Even though that process is tedious and exhausting, it still worked and the reward is even bigger when it wasn’t easy. I think we made one of our best rock songs ever.
Aside from K's Choice, you started a new project called Rex Rebel with 2 of your K's Choice bandmates. Rex Rebel's music has a more pop driven sound compared to K's. Was there ever a thought of releasing it under K's Choice name, or did you feel it had to be something completely new?
I felt like it had to be something completely new. It was not a sound Gert was interested in and the idea was to get away from the guitar driven sound of K’s Choice. It’s nice to stretch yourself musically, and I really feel like we made something special with Rex Rebel.
סאם וגארט בטנס. צילום: Frank Clauwers
You and Gert both had side projects before, but never with your own bandmates. How did he feel about it?
He was totally fine with it. He understands that after all these years, there are going to be things we want to do that the other one is not that interested in and that’s totally fine. I also think we learn from these other projects, we grow, and that can only be a good thing.
In 2019 you came out publicly as a transgender, but when was it that you realized your own personal gender identify?
I realized it not too long before I came out. It was an interesting process. I vlogged about it a lot on YouTube, because I know a lot of transgender people are alone in this, and I felt like sharing my experience could be helpful to someone else.
Speaking of your Vlog, I have been following it on YouTube for years, and I am thinking of how great it must be for anyone struggling with their own sexual identity to have someone like you to look up to. Do people ever approach you to tell you about their own coming out experience?
Yes, people come to me all the time to share their stories. It’s how we connect, and that’s so important. To feel like you’re not alone, can be everything.
Since coming out, do you feel any different about songs written when you still identified as a woman?
Some things feel weird to sing, I’m not sure I’m going to sing ‘Woman’ again live. 🙂 The words start having a different meaning sometime, and I often wonder if I’ve known forever and if some of the earlier lyrics reveal that.
James Baldwin once said "Artists are here to disturb the peace". Do you think an artist has to use their star power to cause dialogue in society?
I don’t think an artist has to, but for me personally, I feel like I have the responsibility to be real and to be true to myself. That means something different to different people, but that seems to be the only way for me to be.
2 years ago you participated in "The Masked Singer" as Otter. How was it for you to take part in a reality show with your identity unknown?
I loved it. It was nice to be able to put on a costume and learn a few dance moves, something I would have never done for K’s Choice. It was a way to step out of my comfort zone, and we all need to do that once in a while.
Last year you became a grandfather for the first time, congratulations! How has that been for you?
I love it. All the snuggles and none of the worries.
Is there still a mountain you wish to conquer with your music, a dream you are still yet to seize?
I still want to record albums and tour. It’s who I am. I would love to make a country record and record it in Nashville, that’s a dream.
Wow, that could be interesting! "The Phantom Cowboy" had a country vibe to it so I can totally see that happening. OK, Let's talk about live shows.
If you could pick 1 musician dead or alive whom you have never worked with, to share a stage with. Who would it be?
A true legend! That is something I would love to see. Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I like to focus. Do some singing, stretch and visualize what’s going to happen.
What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on stage?
Forgetting lyrics. Happens more than I care to admit.
One final question please: It's been 3 years since your last show here, and the Israeli fans are eager to see you again. Having played here 8 times in the last 3 decades, is there a plan to return to Israel with the current tour?
We would love to come back to Israel. We’re hoping to make that happen in late 2023. Stay tuned!
Sam, thanks again for your time. Rock on!
You’re welcome! Have a wonderful 2023. Sam
Elad Avigan hosts "Ze Rock Porto" every Tuesday between 15:00 – 16:00.