Matt Dubb modernizes Israeli folk songs, enhances spirituality

“Every time I sit down and make a song, I feel like it’s totally from God,” says the Orthodox songwriter.

By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News

Matt Dubb loves performing, no matter what the setting – from a festival in Israel on Sukkot to weddings in America.

The Brooklyn-based singer and DJ loves to inspire others. His popularity as one of the most spiritual performers combining older Hebrew songs with modernized beats is gaining steam.

Dubb is gaining popularity not just in the Jewish world, but in the secular one as well. He’s been asked to perform at festivals, but he’s turned many down because he doesn’t want to fully cross into the secular world.

Dubb recently spoke with World Israel News.

Q: How did you get started in the music industry?

“When I was in high school, I was playing the keyboard during my free time. I started a band with a few friends for fun. Then, it turned out people thought we were pretty good, so we started booking gigs. Between [ages] 18 to 24, I started getting more into dance music. I switched over to producing dance music. [The song] ‘Adama V’shamayim’ is vocal, but I also produce music. I consider myself more of a DJ than a singer, but I sing on some of my tracks.”

Q: So you do a lot within this business. How does singing and DJing go hand-in-hand?

“Once I got into this type of music, I left my band and I was getting full-time work at the time. I tried to split up my day, week and month making time for music while working full-time on my other stuff. I’ll start working on a beat and if I like it, I’ll start working on a topline with different composers and find the right artists to collaborate with. ‘Adama V’shamayim’ worked out the other way – first the song and then putting the beat behind it.”

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Q: How difficult has it been for you to make it in this business?

“Luckily, I had a little bit of a one-up because I was in this popular band called EvanAl. I knew a lot of singers and the market. When I came out with my first single, it was with Lipa Schmeltzer, a pretty popular Orthodox singer who is big in Israel. It’s definitely not easy. If you don’t keep coming out with hits, you can easily be forgotten. ‘Adama V’shamayim’ came out almost two years ago, and I’ve been coming out with songs since then that are pretty popular.”

Q: Where do you find inspiration to make these songs?

“All of my songs, if you listen to the Hebrew words, they’re pretty spiritual and meaningful. Certain beats and rhythms get me going. Sometimes, I listen to music and say, ‘If only this song had a better beat on it, it would drive further.’ My new song ‘Ana’ has had a lot of streams really fast and, for the amount of time, it’s my most streamed song. People have told me they’ve heard it at nightlife in Miami. They were hearing Hebrew words at 3:00 in the morning and they Shazamed it.”

Q: What does it mean to you to see that your music is being shared all over?

“Just like Spanish music in America, people don’t know what they’re saying, but people love the vibe and beat. It means I’m on the right track and I need to keep doing what I do. I’m working on stuff with different artists who have had success in both worlds. I’ve had opportunities and I’ve turned down some. I did one pretty big event in Miami, and I asked my rabbi before. It doesn’t mean I want to do that, but that situation came up and it made sense at the time. I want my music to be heard by the whole world because it’s an inspiration. I’m not trying to cross over to that world.”

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Q: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment so far?

“It’s hard to say. Ultimately, I don’t think I’m there yet in terms of what my goal is. I have a lot of new stuff coming. All of my music is getting more streams and the amount of engagement [is up] between my social media and YouTube. My songs are being streamed a lot and it’s a good sign.”

Q: What difficulties have you had as an observant Jew in this industry?

“For me, I’m doing everything as an observant Orthodox Jew. I don’t find it difficult at all. It’s beautiful. I’m not getting sucked into any of that right now. There’s a big enough audience between Israel and America to get there. I played at some really good events, concerts and shows. Some of the weddings I’ve played at are phenomenal. I’m really happy, and I hope that I keep growing.”

Q: What are your goals moving forward?

“I want to make more great music and songs. I want to connect to as many people as I can to inspire people all over the world. I think it’s very possible. With YouTube and social media, there’s no limit to where you can go. Some of my listeners are for sure not Jewish. There’s no way I have 70,000 monthly listeners on Spotify if they’re all Jewish. I see it on Instagram with comments, likes and messages from people who aren’t Jewish from all over the world, saying, ‘Wow, this song is my favorite. I don’t know what this means, but I connected and it makes me cry.’”

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Q: Is it surreal to hear something like that from a complete stranger?

“It’s amazing. The reason I’m doing this music right now is because I’m working full-time in business and I’m making time for music. I want to make time for gigs and to be in the studio, which is more of my day-to-day right now. I want to share my music with an audience that streams and books gigs.”

Q: How do you take an older song like “Adama V’shamayim” and modernize it to create great beats for people to connect to?

“It’s all mazel [luck]. Every time I sit down and make a song, I feel like it’s totally from God.”