Singer with a big role

STEPHEN EASTON talks to Lior Attar, who is starring in the “Australia Celebrates Live” concert in Canberra on Saturday night

INDEPENDENT singer-songwriter Lior Attar has a unique and important role to play in Saturday night’s Australia Day celebrations on the Parliament House lawns.

With the Australian of the Year announcements and the concert combined this year on the same stage, the talented and versatile musician has been given charge of the first hour of proceedings and asked to pay tribute to the 2013 award recipients, before they pass on their prestigious titles.

It’s Lior’s second time at the event; he performed briefly outside Parliament on the eve of Australia Day in 2006, not long after being catapulted to national fame with his independent debut album “Autumn Flow” achieving both widespread critical acclaim and strong commercial success.

“That left me with a really good taste in my mouth as to the Australia Day celebrations in Canberra, so when I got asked to do this, I didn’t hesitate,” he tells “CityNews”, taking a break from the final stages of recording his new album “Scattered Reflections”, which is out in March.

“I’ll be doing a couple of songs from each of the three albums I’ve put out, a song or two from the new album and a small selection of covers that were chosen… so it’s going to be a selection of different little musical interludes, and hopefully that’ll mix it up and give a little bit of colour to the ceremony.”

Lior moved to Australia from Israel as a child, and sees Australia Day as a good opportunity to cultivate a more inclusive society.

“I came to Australia when I was 10 years old, and I’ve always been very proud of the multicultural nature of our society and I think, for me, Australia Day is a celebration of that more than anything else,” he says.

It’s a good point. Australia is multicultural, and many of one ethnic group – Aboriginal Australians – still feel alienated by the celebration of January 26 and refer to it as “Invasion Day”.

“I think if I was an indigenous person I’d feel the same way, so I think we all need to kind of put ourselves in those shoes and think about how that would feel,” says Lior.

“I completely relate to what a lot of the Aboriginal community are saying, which is why I think the focus of Australia Day should be about being a progressive country, about it being an open and tolerant country and being a multicultural country.”

As with all Lior’s albums, “Scattered Reflections” is an independent release, but this time he decided to crowdfund it online, at the suggestion of Ian Ball from Gomez, so you can pay him $20 directly through the website PledgeMusic and have the album delivered to your house.

Give him $400 and you can take three friends to a gig, meet Lior backstage and go home with a signed copy of all his albums and a shirt; $5000 and he’ll play in your loungeroom.

“I just really liked what you could do as part of it, in terms of offering things that I suppose you otherwise wouldn’t be able to offer to your audience,” he explains.

He says more and more of what people listen to is now “dictated by taste” and the influence of “big gatekeepers like major record companies” is on the wane, with crowdfunding a good way to cover production costs while still bypassing the “middlemen”.

“It’s been a really great thing, not only to have raised the target to make the album, but also in the way it’s opened up more direct communication between my audience and me, it’s been really good.”

Lior is known for his simple, clear recordings and intimate live performances, and says keeping that intimacy with a crowd of 30,000 or more is always a challenge.

“I suppose, being a singer songwriter, much of the focus in my performance is on the lyric and you know, it is about a personal connection.

“There is a certain power that comes through intimacy that is harder to get, the bigger the shows get and the more the production takes over. There’s a distance or barrier between you and the audience.”

 

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