Sangit Segal is a rising Israeli-born and based multi-instrumentalist songwriter and producer, best known as Sangit, whose passion for music has led him to collaborate with an eclectic array of artists from different backgrounds and cultures. Born in Hadera, Israel, Segal grew up on Kibbutz Kfar-Glikson, a collective agricultural community with an idealistic social mission. His father managed the kibbutz factory while his mother worked in the nurses, when she was taking care of Segal and his four sisters. At his parents’ insistence, Segal took music and dance lessons throughout his childhood, but his love of music truly blossomed when he turned 11 and picked up the saxophone. Although his earliest musical influences came from listening to classical music records with his grandfather, the young Segal preferred Israeli, British and American rock music. Later in life, Sangit discovered African, funk and electronic music, which have gone on to become fundamental to his own sound.
Disgruntled with the kibbutz’s agenda, Segal’s parents relocated the family to nearby Zikhron Yaakov when he turned 14. In Zichron Yaakov, Segal began to play the drums and was inspired by his djembe instructor to develop both his musical and spiritual sides. When he turned 19, the self-described troublemaker and individualist flew to India rather than join the army. And while in India, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery: learning from the philosophies he encountered, he began taking tabla and sitar lessons. When he turned 21, Segal underwent a Sannyasa imitation ceremony, receiving the name Sangit, which means music in Sanskrit. (In Hinduism, Sannyasa is a life stage in which adherents renounce material desires and pursue a life of peace, love and simplicity.) “The name Sangit really grew on me, and it strengthened my true calling in life––music,” Segal recalls.
Returning to Israel, Segal attended the Rimon School of Music, studying composition and music arrangement, but after a year, he left to study percussion in Cuba — and later to play with African masters. In 2004, the Israeli-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer along with Alon Yoffe and Abate Berihun co-founded the Ethiopian jazz act Kuluma. The act released the critically applauded album Mother Tongue.
In 2012 Segal released Open Channels, his first collaboration with his wife Noa Golan, who he had met in Aviel, Israel, a small village in Northern Israel, where they currently live with their children. On their property, he built a recording studio, where he invites musicians and artists of diverse backgrounds to join him on his inventive recording and film projects, including a series of audio-visual collages as part of his Studio Sessions Project, which has featured dozens of musicians and darncers in each music video. Throughout the years, the Israeli-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer has collaborated with an impressive and eclectic array of artist including legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, video mash-up star Kutiman, vocalist Karolina, Ethiopian legend Mahmoud Ahmed, Tel Aviv-based funk act Funk’n’stein and many others. Interestingly, Segal has long embraced experimentation through collaboration, allowing the music to essentially write itself and evolve out of the ideas and styles of each musician and artist.
Sangit’s debut EP, 2016’s Afro Love found him blending African grooves with a funky, global fusion sort of vibe. Eventually, the Israeli-born artist’s work caught the attention of Cumbancha Records, who released his full-length debut Librar yesterday. Blending and meshing African, Afro-Cuban roots music, jazz, funk and Moroccan Gnawa trance music with Ethiopian scales and a bit of Caribbean flavor, the album finds Sangit crafting a unique, global-spanning, difficult-to-pigeon hole sound. The album as he describes in press notes, is “a reflection of my creative momentum. I am passionate and fanatical about my music. And this album,” he says “represents my spiritual journey, my evolution.”
The album’s material features musicians healing from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Morocco, Iran, Congo, as well as Isreali musicians repenting a diverse array of cultural influences — and naturally, the album continues his personal mission to collaborate with artists from different backgrounds in creative projects that move him and audiences across the globe. Interestingly, the album has lyrics written and sung in nine different languages by 11 different vocalists from around the planet. (His live band is a nonet and from what I understand is currently setting the groundwork for their first international shows in 2020. Hopefully, they’ll be a New York City Metropolitan area stop at some point!)
“Turn Your Head to the Light,” the infectious and incredibly upbeat new single off the recently released album is centered around a a propulsive and sinuous bass line that recalls Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition,” an enormous and ebullient brass line, and features vocals from Funk’n’stein’s Elran Dekel. And while sonically being a seamless synthesis of Motown-era funk, gospel, and Afrobeat, the song has a decidedly positive message that reassures the listener that “if you are going through some bad days or a gloomy night, all you have to do is turn your head to the light, focus in the positive, believe in yourself.”