The soulful front man of bands such as Zapp Zapp earlier and Drori-Hansen Furniture later is now a blooming solo artist on his own now. In Denmark, the two albums released with these groups have both reached legendary and groundbreaking status in the eye of the media in their home country. A further Soul-oriented slant is due to a participation in the musical “Hair” in its recent high profile staging in Denmark and France… Read on!
Erann DD (a shortening of the longer name Erann David Drori) was born in Denmark, his parents having relocated to Denmark a few years earlier. He comes from a very united and harmonious family and in his songs, Erann has often used the family theme, to imply unity and community of intent. Unadulterated Love is the Message, as is Belief in one self and one’s capabilities!
Erann comes equipped with considerable on-stage charisma and charm – he has been voted Denmark’s Sexiest Man by a women’s magazine as a result and he is extremely popular and with a very wide audience in Denmark.
CLASSICAL AND TRADITIONAL MUSIC INFLUENCES
At the age of 7, Erann’s parents had him enrolled at Helena Polack’s school of classical piano. His first singing experience was with the Copenhagen Childrens’ Choir but keyboard was to be his instrument of choice for many years. He dabbled with Classical but also ethnic styles in a veritable melting pot of influences that was to have a huge significance for Erann later on.
A MUSICALLY INCLINED SCHOOL
Destined to be a performer, it is again symptomatic of things to come that Erann was enrolled at the prestigious Sanct Annae School in Copenhagen, where strict music talent auditions are the norm. At Sanct Annae, music runs the gamut from Classical to Gospel Soul and everything in between as well as modern styles such as Jazz, Rock, etc.
Erann was not overly interested in music theory, relying instead on a set of incredibly musical ears and a good memory. At that point, Erann started up an interest for Soul, Jazz, R’n’B and Funk along the lines of US masters such as Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, whose phrasing reminded Erann of his Yemenite own music background.
The always ebullient and workaholic Erann then met Casper Hansen at the Sanct Annae school and they soon started common Funk-inspired conspiracies, which resulted later on in the short-lived Band Harson. It was a makeshift outfit the two of them formed after having graduated, but Casper Hansen was to resurface in the Erann story at a later stage…
After having graduated, Erann’s musical activities were meant to help financing further studies, as Erann’s dream at the time was to become an airline pilot! He also took up singing in earnest at that point leading on to a long stint with a group of musicians that soon became Zapp Zapp.
A chance gig and resulting jam suddenly created Zapp Zapp right out of the blue. Erann (as usual always on the lookout for music action or a party) assembled a bunch of friendly funksters and proceeded to set the club afire in a jiffy. Everyone realized that a star vocalist named Erann was the new kid on the block to reckon with. Right from the start, Zapp Zapp was a start-studded line-up of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums to complement an eminent vocalist. After having honed their chops on Soul standards, they started branching out in own material and achieved consistent success on the charts and in particular live.
Their on-stage prowess resulted in being voted Live Band of the Year at Copenhagen’s 5-oeren (huge outdoors concerts for 50,000+ people), and played a particularly successful support gig for Gary Moore that was to lead to a recording contract with Mega Records.
Zapp Zapp was influenced by the likes of Tower Of Power and Sly & The Family Stone and became the premier live band in Denmark within Soul and Funk styles, acclaimed by musicians but also popular with everyone else. The aforementioned Tower Of Power also recorded with Erann and Zapp Zapp, that were reportedly very impressed by Erann’s skills as a vocalist.
Two albums and several hit singles as well as countless gigs and TV appearances is the legacy to the future, and are in Mega’s back catalog. Zapp Zapp imploded eventually due to an excess of creativity – all former members are still red-hot in the session biz, some with international impact such as the producer duo Candy Hill.
At the time of Zapp Zapp’s demise, Erann was Denmark’s sexiest man – still is, by the way, according to many sources! He could have gone solo and overtly commercial, if so was his wish, to capitalize on his superstar status.
Not so! Instead, he opted for a going back to the roots stance, reuniting with the aforementioned Casper Hansen, a groove-oriented bass player with the deepest sound in town and keyboard abilities as well. The two of them eventually formed Drori-Hansen Furniture after having worked for a time on a batch of demos. Erann & Casper recruited musicians and eventually found a base for themselves in a farmhouse at the outskirts of Copenhagen, where they built an own studio.
Their extremely classic laid-back sound was very groove-oriented, Old Skool and used exclusively analog equipment from the 60s and the 70s to record. Despite the underground-ish stance of Drori-Hansen Furniture, they managed to record two successful albums for Mega and had a number of hit singles as well. As was the case for Zapp Zapp, they hit the road and toured relentlessly.
LOOKING FOR NEW INSPIRATION
After the demise of Drori-Hansen Furniture, Erann thought it was about time to get a first-hand impression of music in the USA and spent many months in Los Angeles broadening his visions and abilities. At the invitation of Glenn Ballard, he was to work with great musicians such as Chris Bruce(guitarist in the George Clinton band), Billy Griffin (replaced Smokey Robinson in The Miracles), a co-writer that used to work with Marvin Gaye and another big inspiration was Carmen Rizzo, a programmer and producer for Prince; Alanis Morrisette and Seal that was to help Erann developing his vocals chops even further.
Already an accomplished Old Skool exponent, Erann began then also to learn how to use the machines nowadays som prominent in studios all over the World, learning to program, working with sequencers and MIDI keyboards.
He also worked with Eric Ricco (Erykah Badu, TLC) and Jamie Muhoberac, session keyboard player for The Rolling Stones, adding much to the learning process.
Erann began being confident as to his own abilities as a writer and felt soon poised for going solo and to take his career into his own hands. The material generated by the stay in Los Angeles was to form the bulk of what was later to be Erann’s first album.
ERANN GOING SOLO
By 1998/99, it seemed as if the Drori-Hansen Furniture concept of jamming things in had no further development left ahead for the time being, and Erann began tinkering with own compositions and lyrics in earnest. Demo after demo was recorded on his home set-up and a batch of truly great songs was rapidly assembled, also with the help of contributing lyricists such as Arthur Joshua Stander (one of the main Drori-Hansen Furniture lyricists) and Anoo Baghavan, based in Stockholm.
Along with executive producers Kjeld Wennick & Lene Olsen of Mega Records, Erann was at the very helm of the production for the whole process, hands on.
After having selected tracks for the impending recording sessions, inclusive of two cover versions, Erann spent time in studios in Copenhagen and Stockholm and with co-producers such as Jonas van der Burg,Marcus D., Thomas Breckling, SoulPoets and The Shack.
Some of the finest Danish and Swedish sessioneers participated to the recordings, which even includes two tracks featuring The New World Gospel Choir of Demona.
The initial single was to be “Still Believing”, an Erann title made with Stander, that swiftly proceeded to conquer airwaves and charts alike in Denmark in the Fall of 2000, paving the way for the album of the same title, that peaked at #1 on the album chart, going Gold within 10 days of release and nearly double Platinum at present. A further smash in the form of the radio-only single “Stay” went airplay Top Ten immediately, to increase album visibility. At present thus, it is safe to predict further and future achievements and a clear international potential for Erann DD, as is his stage name nowadays.
In the wake of the success of the album came 5 nominations for the Danish Music Awards (equivalent to the Grammies) and Erann got an award in the “Best Newcomer” category (based on televotes). “Still Believing” is now being released in the remainder of Scandinavia and Europe and expectations are of course high in the wake of initial feedback.
THAT’S THE WAY FOR ME
Expectations are high as popular Danish soul pop singer Erann DD now releases his second solo album That’s The Way For Me. It’s been three years since his incredible success following the album Still Believing, which earned him Double Platinum for more than 110.000 albums sold in Denmark and nominations in five categories to Danish Music Awards 2001.
That’s The Way For Me is a celebration of true love in a way which Erann describes as a refinement of his true musical expression.
Since his last album Erann has deliberately changed from party animal to family man, a development which naturally shows in his music too. All those faboulous parties in the hey-day of his first two bands Zapp Zapp and Drori-Hansen Furniture, and his success performance in the musical HAIR staged in Copenhagen and Paris, have gradually given way to what Erann with his usual great enthusiasm labels ґThe Party At Home`. This is a party which is different but just as passionate. The other members of this new and exclusive party are his girlfriend Lizette and their two children, a son aged 2 and a baby girl only 9 months old. Inspired by the love for his family and the sensual pleasures of everyday life, Erann now invites his listeners to join him in a new and groovy party. The music is simple, sincere and based on solid grooves in a mute, sensual soul mood played by world class musicians.
On Thatґs The Way For Me Erann proudly presents some of today’s leading musicians from the American world of soul, hip hop and pop.
“That’s what I love most about the new album. Iґm out there playing my music with stars who are not worried about being stars. They truly dare to play it simple. I got a licence to experiment and to go for my dreams and itґs been great”, says Erann.
Chris Bruce (who worked with George Clinton, Alanis Morrisette, Seal and Me’Shell NdegйOcello) plays the guitar riffs on Thatґs The Way For Me.
Bass player Mike Elizondo (one of todayґs leading bass players whose collaborations includes working with Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent, Anastacia, Busta Rhymes, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow and Terence Trent d’Arby) contributes to songs like “Say Something Nice”, “Why” and “Tell Me”.
On “Why” the drums are played by percussionist and drummer Tal Bergman (known for his work with Simple Minds, Billy Idol, Chaka Khan, Peter Cetera and Rod Stewart) and another contributor throughout the album is piano and keyboard player Paul Gordon (known for his work with Ricky Martin).
It all began at a private dinner party held by close friends of Erann in October 2002. Here Erann met Danish producer Poul Bruun for the first time, the man behind Danish musicians like Kim Larsen, Hanne Boel and Laid Back.
At the time Erann was seriously stuck in the process of composing the follow up to Still Believing. However, Erann DD and Poul Bruun sparked it off immediately and had lots of fun at that dinner party. Next time they met, Poul Bruun listened to Erann’s music. “Keep it simple”, was Bruunґs first comment. “Thatґll do the naughty trick”.
Erann instantly fell in love with that prospect, and they agreed for Poul Bruun to become Erann’s “right ear” and executive producer on the new album.
Erann’s main priority was to keep the good grooves from the old soul and to combine them with the digital sound of the modern urban soul.
“I did not want the old fashioned sound of my idols, James Brown and Sly and The Family Stone”, says Erann.
“On the new album I went for the organic sound of the old soul with that lovely analogous twist combined with the sound of pop, but not too perfectly produced.”
Luckily Poul Bruun knew just the man for that project, the American singer, musician, songwriter and producer Eddie Chacon (one part of the musical duet Charles and Eddie) and before long the famous American was on his way to Erann’s studio in his house north of Copenhagen.
“We communicated right away just by humming and grooving”, says Erann.
“We brainstormed a lot. He complimented my way of singing, and I like his voice too. He ended up doing chorus on the record too. We sing very much alike and we both love the sound of a falsetto.“
To have Eddie Chacon join the project as a producer was a dream come through.
Erann had one more dream fulfilled. To record out in the open.
“I just love to be in the sun. Everything gets better outdoor, I sing better and I play my guitar better.”
Nature is the best and most beautiful studio says Erann, who encourages other musicians to try it out. In a musical version of Danish film director Lars von Trier’s Concept of Dogme they ended up recording under the sun on the beautiful island Curacao north of Venezuela.
Their house was right on the beach with a fabulous view. They had also managed to solve the problem of a mobile studio. The man chosen for the job was Swiss sound engineer Rudy Hausermann, who has worked for great names like Celine Dion, En Vogue, Hanson, MC Hammer, Jewell, Phil Spector, Dave Stewart and Vonda Shepard.
“Rudy knows what he is doing. I never heard a better sound. He worked around the clock, always there like a fly on the wall, and Eddie only had to whisper to make himself understood.”.
In five weeks from mid January to February 5th 2003 the three guys slaved to record the ten songs chosen for the album. In spite of the gorgeous surroundings it was a tough time. They began working early every morning right after coffee.
“In the beginning our neighbours were pestered by the loud music, but in the end people would applaud us while listening from ships in the lagoon or they would come close to the house and offer us breakfast and tell us how much they cherished the music.”
After three weeks on Curacao Erann and Paul went back to Denmark and in the middle of March 2003 Eddie Chacon arrived back in Denmark to begin mixing the record.
Rudy Hausermann came too, bringing the same gear as he used on Curacao. For weeks Rudy and Eddie worked at high pressure day in and day out and then the album was finished.
Being all excited about the release of his second solo album, Erann has at last overcome “the fear of pop”, and he ascribes this to the success of his first solo album.
“Before I did Still Believing people would always warn me against doing pop music. It made me feel claustrophobic. Today I don’t care anymore. As long as it comes straight from the heart it is fine. I like the freedom of going solo. I’m the one in trouble if there’s a problem but I also get the credit for a success.”
The commercial success of Still Believing has made Erann ten times stronger. It was an album well received abroad too, and in 2001 Erann went on a promotion tour to Germany, France and Spain. In Germany the title song Still Believing was greatest radio hit of that year on NDR (Nord Deutsche Rundfunk). Erann wrote the lyrics to this massive hit together with Arthur Joshua Stander. Another writer who came up with lyrics for this record was Anoo Baghavan from Stockholm.
“What turns me on about singing is to try and find that special vibration which every human knows, the vocal which is just so right that it sends a shiver down your spine. Once you hit it right, it can make you scared and it can make you cry.”.
“To me, music is sacred and music is magic, because it can play with emotions. Music can make you cry, so don’t make fun of it. As for soul music, it’s all about emotions. On That’s The Way For Me I try to tell about a certain story or experience.”
And this time it’s love, sensuality and “The Party At Home” with Lizette and their children who has inspired Erann.
“Music is an emotional vitamin that fuels energy, fun & passion into our lives.”