We first met Niv Kaikov a few months back at Tel Aviv’s White Night celebration. We were strolling on Rothschild Boulevard – yes the same one that’s been filled with tents all summer – which, during White Night, is instead filled with musicians. Every block, sometimes even every half a block, there is another band set up. The music is mostly rock, with a little world/ethnic thrown in to remind you of what part of the world we live in.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuSyc-KAHcQ[/youtube]Niv Kaikov performing “A New Way” live at house concert in Jerusalem. Here’s the official video for the clip.
As my wife Jody and I made our way down the boulevard, we’d stop to listen to maybe to a song or two, before moving on to the next performer. We did this musical shuffle for a good hour until we got to a young singer-songwriter whose tunes we really liked. We stayed for a couple songs. Then a couple more. A woman in the crowd was selling his CD. We bought it. We never buy CDs on the street from bands we don’t know, but there was something about this particular artist that spoke to us. That was Niv, of course.
Afterward, we struck up a virtual conversation via Facebook, during which time we decided to bring Niv to Jerusalem to put on a house concert. It would be romantic with wine and candles; an intimate acoustic performance. Niv was excited – it would be his first time playing in the Holy City. And, entirely by coincidence, the date that worked best was my birthday.
Now, here’s the 21st century spin: all the planning was done entirely virtually. We never once spoke to Niv over the phone. We didn’t even know what his non-singing voice sounded like. Still, when he walked in the door, I gave him a big hug, feeling like I’d known him forever.
Niv turned out to be as charming in person as he is in his songs. Moreover, his story is inspirational to any budding artist: he had been working as a project manager at an e-commerce company in Tel Aviv. His boss offered him a promotion and laid out a 5-year success path where Niv would become CEO and have 30 people working for him. But Niv actually hated hi-tech. And so on the same day as he received the promotion, he quit his job to pursue a full-time career as a musician.
Niv sings about his career choice in Derech Hadasha (A New Way), the first “single” from his CD (it got some airplay, he says). Other songs relate to his experience after a near-fatal motorcycle crash, and his wedding at the top of a mountain at sunrise (“we got lost on the way…the groom almost didn’t make it!”) He is at once professional and sincere, heartfelt and driven. And it doesn’t hurt that his voice and styling’s are reminiscent of a younger Ivri Lider.
For the show’s finale, Niv and his band (he brought a second guitarist and a percussionist with him) belted out his “second” single – the song Pesak Zman. When he sings about the value of “taking a break” (the English translation of the song title) from life’s many “statuses” (he mentions cars, jobs, jewelry) in order to step back and reflect on what’s truly important, you believe him. Indeed, Niv says, his dream would be to morph into a kind of motivational speaker using music as punctuation for transformation and change.
Making it in the music business these days is tough: it’s rare to be “discovered” by a big record label mogul anymore; most of the promotion work and expenses fall on the artist. Indeed Niv has invested in several professional music videos and the recording of his songs with a full band. He is very active on Facebook and social media to build a community of committed fans.
We were delighted to move from the virtual to the real and celebrate my birthday with this dynamic, talented musician. While this blog isn’t a platform for in-your-face PR, my recommendation to check out Niv’s MySpace page is born from the best intentions: to support a young musician who truly moved me…and perhaps to help him from needing to return to that corporate day job.