The Portland Playlist’s last show before the big Portland Radio Project studio move featured an artist that mixes the classical with the electronic, GLASYS (Gil Assayas). Gil is a pianist, synthesist, producer and vocalist who relocated to Portland from Jerusalem, in late 2015. You might call him an overachiever that never sleeps because he’s only been here 9 months and in that time has recorded an EP, booked its release show (9/17 at Alberta Street Pub), plays with two other bands (The Insensitives and JoyTribe), lent his keyboard skills to countless other projects, been invited to perform on local radio stations, premiered his debut single on Vortex Music Magazine, filmed a video for another single off the EP, “The Great Abyss,” and has been featured on Nord Keyboard‘s front page and social media.
Gil is the product of symphony parents who play viola and cello for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. He began playing the violin at age 5, piano by age 8, and was classically trained by his father. Wanting to quit music altogether when he was 14, it was the freedom expressed in jazz piano that enticed him to stay. His is a unique sound of “impassioned vocals, intricate virtuosic keyboard parts and electronic soundscapes in one package that combines his many influences including Indie Rock, Classical music, Electronic music and Jazz.”
Classical was the only music he heard growing up, and it wasn’t until after high school that he began listening to Top 40. His music influences range from the classics, Bach and Oscar Peterson; to The Beatles, Joy Division, Radiohead (his favorite band to date), Nirvana, Grizzly Bear, The Secret Sea, and Coco Columbia. The latter two on which he played the keys.
In 2014, Gil and his wife were looking to find a new home and arriving here in 2015, Portland won. Moving to a new country/city, not knowing a soul, might be intimidating for some but for Gil, he set his sights on breaking into the local music scene and went for it every way he could. He went to open mics at places like Homebase coffee and the Goodfoot, went to shows to meet other artists, posted on music Facebook groups that he was a keyboardist for hire, and quickly garnered entrance. He also set out to find musicians to perform on his soon-to-be released EP, The Pressure. While most of the songs were written in Israel, they were recorded here at Cloud City Sound. The official release show is Saturday, September 17, and features performances by Coco Columbia and Rare Diagram.
The second hour of the show included the recorded tracks off the EP as well as a live performance of four new songs. What is interesting about Gil’s music is how he blends his classical training with the modern electronic synth sound. The way he incorporates the two into a song adds an element of surprise that you wouldn’t expect, along with lyrics that are often dark and reflective of our oft-troubled times. One such example is the video for “The Great Abyss.” This is the second single off the EP and is a “dark retrospective on our unrelenting disconnect with our important surroundings. It also has some great special effects that make the video unique and hard to take your eyes off of.”
It is not often that you find a newcomer who fits into a new town so seamlessly, with a sunny, friendly disposition that belies the melancholy moods he talks about. To see what he has managed to accomplish in a short period of time brings excitement in anticipation of what is to come.
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