Balkan Beat Box (BBB) is an Israeli musical group founded by Tamir Muskat, Ori Kaplan and now including Tomer Yosef as a core member. The group plays Mediterranean-influenced music that incorporates Jewish, Eastern Europe (mainly Balkan) and Middle Eastern traditions, Gypsy punk, reggae and electronica. As a musical unit they often collaborate with a host of other musicians both in the studio as well as live.
Co-founders Ori Kaplan and Firewater's member Tamir Muskat both met in Brooklyn, New York, NY as teenagers. Both had grown up with music; Kaplan had been a klezmer clarinetist, while Muskat was a drummer in a punk rock band. They established their own unique sound by fusing the musical styles of Mediterranean and Balkan traditions (mainly helped by Teo and the Chalga masters at the time) with hip hop and dancehall beats.
Balkan Beat Box's goal was to take ancient and traditional musical traditions and fuse those with hip hop in order to create a new mix of musical styles out of the traditional world music context that would appeal to listeners in a club or a dancehall. As children, they had felt that traditional music was outdated and felt as though it did not adequately reflect their experiences of the growing world culture, so hoped to bring new relevance to these old traditional musical forms. They cite Boban Marković, Rachid Taha, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Manu Chao, and Charlie Parker amongst their musical influences. The group was also influenced by Jamaican dub. In December 2006, the acclaimed artist from Tel Aviv Tomer Yosef became frontman for the group.
Balkan Beat Box's self-titled first album (released in 2005) and their 2007 follow-up album Nu Med both received global acclaim. While their first album focused more on Mediterranean sounds, their second album included Arabic and Spanish influences. The song "Bulgarian Chicks" from their first album became popular in clubs and dancehalls in 2008.
The group released Blue Eyed Black Boy in 2010 and Give in 2012. Regarded as the "godfathers of global bass" by MTV Iggy, the band continued to expand their sound incorporating electronic dance music, reggae, cumbia, and brass bands into their tracks. Blue Eyed Black Boy was recorded in Romania with the Jovica Ajderevic Orkestar brass band, and at Vibromonk East in Tel Aviv. Key tracks are "Dancing with the Moon", "Move It", "Blue Eyed Black Boy", and "War Again" as harbinger of things to come. The album Give was influenced by the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, and the spirit of change around the world. Spin Magazine dubbed the band "a global peace-keeping mission you can dance to".
Samplings and adaptations
The band's popular song "Bulgarian Chicks" was sampled by Mac Miller in the Diplo-produced track "Goosebumpz" in Spring 2013. Later "Bulgarian Chicks" was also sampled in "Sis: Trompeta".
The album Nu Med, already famous internationally became more popular when in August 2013 the song "Hermetico" taken from the album was sampled by Jason Derulo in his international hit "Talk Dirty" featuring 2 Chainz.
In 2014, the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis sampled the song "Adir Adirim" from Balkan Beat Box's eponymous album for the track "Mr. Toot". This track debuted as part of the fourth season of their show I kveld med YLVIS.
Tomer Yosef - lead vocals, percussion, samples
Ori Kaplan - saxophone
Tamir Muskat - drums, percussion, programming
Current live performers
Itamar Ziegler - guitar, bass guitar
Ben Hendler - bass guitar
Ron Bunker - guitar
Peter Hess - saxophone
Eyal Talmudi - saxophone
Uri Kinrot - guitar, saxophone
Past live performers
Jeremiah Lockwood - guitar
Dana Leong - trombone