At the age of 19, Nati Ninet Tayeb’s life changed.
In 2003, she won the first season of “Kokhav Nolad,” Israel’s version of “Pop Idol,” and subsequently released five albums and a host of hit singles, including “Who is Us,” which came out on June 10.
“I come from a land where everything is so complicated,” Tayeb described. “The next single is talking about how we are all connected all the time, and that’s why we need to feel compassion and love for each other. Especially after the pandemic, we need to be like lovers and not enemies.”
Tayeb is an accomplished musician, singer-songwriter, composer, actress and judge in “Rising Star: Israel,” but the journey to her finding her own identity as an artist was not always easy as she experienced both the high of a first platinum album and the low of being pelted by objects from an angry crowd after her second.
Tayeb had played in small rock bands throughout her hometown of Kiryat Gat, but her launch to fame after “Pop Idol” had moved her to the metropolitan capital of Tel Aviv as her 2006 debut album went platinum in less than day, yielding five No. 1 singles and a long-running TV series based on her life, “Hashir Shelanu.”
“I was a child and I’d had major success, but I wasn’t happy,” Tayeb explained. “I wasn’t happy at all because I felt like the music was not really what I wanted to do. So, I took a break. I went and I researched everything. I took a really long period of time to just listen to music and discover a lot of new bands. And this is how I discovered my own voice.”
Tayeb became inspired by the works of Jeff Buckley and Chris Cornell, whose music helped her reflect on her own identity as a singer-songwriter. She began to teach herself to play guitar at 25 by watching Buckley play on YouTube, and steadily perfected her craft.
During the creation of her second album, “Communicative,” in 2009, Tayeb took an introspective approach and imprinted her own identity on the music. Though she felt immense pride for the album, even calling it “one of the best albums” she produced, her audience did not feel the same.
The album launch show was a disaster as she was pelted with objects from the crowd, and she played to diminished crowds on the subsequent tour.
“That was a nightmare,” Tayeb said of the first show. “My second album is very different from my first album. My first album is very sweet, and my second album is very not sweet.”
“It was hard for people to accept it…I’m so proud of this album. It had zero success in Israel, but I’m so proud of it. I mean, you do want people to love your music, but you want them to love what you really want to do and not what they want you to do.”
“As an artist, I feel like I have to be committed to my true self, even if it means that it’s not going to work at the beginning and that I’m going to have to work harder,” Tayeb said. “That’s what I did, and ever since ‘Communicative,’ only in the last two years I feel like people finally understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.”
While the response from her fan base was critical and harsh, others began to listen and respond to her new sound. Tayeb won Israel’s “Favorite Music Act” at MTV Europe’s Music Awards twice and became a beloved artist in her home country once again, though the scars still took some time to heal.
“Ever since that night in that festival, every time I go on stage I have this little fear in my heart,” Tayeb said. “It was very traumatic for me, but that’s what I do and that’s what I was born for. And today I was saying to my husband, because people yesterday were going crazy about the show and we were so happy, I got up in the morning and I’m like, ‘I’m so thankful for my life. That’s what I do. That’s what I was meant to be doing my whole life.’”
Today, Tayeb is considered one of most famous people in the Israeli entertainment industry, and recently performed with her husband and producer Joseph E-Shine at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.
“We’ve been here in LA for five years,” Tayeb said. “For us to have a show this legendary place, it’s a big thing.”
She described her return to the stage following the pandemic as “the best feeling in the world,” an emotion of togetherness that she’s infused in her new single, “Who is Us.”
“This line, ‘Who is Us,’ is how the song started,” Tayeb said. “This line came to me, and this is how I started to write this song with the guitar and then the lyrics. Then I played it to my husband, a producer of this upcoming album, and we started working on it.
With the release of her newest single as the frontrunner of her upcoming album, Tayeb hopes that her message of unity will resonate across borders with audiences around the world.
“I’m so pumped because we haven’t released an album ever since I moved here, and to finally put this album out means a lot to me,” she said.