Zisl Slepovitch

Goyfriend by Litvakus & Sasha Lurje

Goyfriend / Друг-Гой is a collaboration project by Litvakus and the celebrated Yiddish singer Sasha Lurje (Berlin). The project was originally conceived by Zisl Slepovitch as a continuation of the band’s first album, Raysn: The Music Of Jewish Belarus (2014).

Goyfriend is based on Slepovitch’s and Lurje’s extensive research, as well as on existing collections recorded in Eastern Europe during the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Goyfriend offers a fresh and revealing look at the Jewish-Slavic-Baltic cultural dialog through the medium of music. This fascinating and diverse program explores this crossroads of cultures, which contains over 600 years of common history. It draws on 200 years of ethnographic research, and puts Yiddish and klezmer music of that region in the context of its musical landscape. Unlike Raysn which portrays the Litvak Yiddish music as deeply rooted in the Belarusian-Lithuanian soil, Goyfriend shifts focus to the Jews and their representations through the eyes of the Baltic and Slavic peoples.

The repertoire includes Jewish-themed instrumental tunes (“Jewish” polkas, foxtrots and karahods), mocking songs, as well as Yiddish ballads converts and assimilationists in the region of Jewish Lithuania (Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Eastern Poland, Western Russian, and Polesye). The sound of Goyfriend is earthy, unhurried, and rich with drones, harmonics, bass, and drum, all of which complement one another with their forward-moving energy. The languages of Goyfriend are Belarusian, Polish, Ukrainian, Latvian, and Lithuanian, as well as Yiddish, which, over centuries was absorbed and adapted into all Baltic and Slavic languages.

The program is planned to be released around fall / winter 2017.


Interview with Sasha Lurje and Zisl Slepovitch on Avi Grenadier’s Podcast