Tamir, reading up on you guys on the internet I came across many different definitions for the music of Balkan Beat Box, going from electro-world to Balkan beats. How do you define your music?
Tamir Muskat (drums, percussion & programming):
"Do we really need to define music? What happened with Balkan Beat Box is that, over the years, developing ourselves as musicians and as people, we started mixing up stuff we basically grew up on. It started with punk-rock and passing through the Mediterranean, the place where we grew up, we ended up in electronics. That evolution was never a conscious decision of doing this or that; it was just a natural way of expressing ourselves and developing our music. These days I don't even try to define our music anymore, because doing that actually limits the experience of the music. If I were to dissect our sound before you heard our music it would definitely ruin your listening experience."

Because of the Balkan Beat Box name, you run the risk of being put into the same category as gipsy bands like Kocani Orkestar, Fanfare Ciocarlia and so on. Do you think the band name still covers what Balkan Beat Box is about musically speaking?
Tamir Muskat:
"No, it clearly doesn't! (laughs) A long time ago, when we decided very instinctually on this name, the Balkan craze hadn't hit yet and for us the Balkan part was just an homage to the place where we grew up, the music we listened to and folk culture in general and the Beat Box part referred in a very basic way to the electronics we use, a little machine producing beats. I think these elements will always be present in our music, so that makes Balkan Beat Box a very natural sounding name for us. And the Balkan beats craze won't last forever either! (laughs)"

Even though your music is teeming with Mediterranean influences, you guys originally met up in Brooklyn, New York. Could this project really have started anywhere else?
Tamir Muskat:
"New York was definitely the perfect place to start from. It's a place that brings together people from all over the world. That's probably true for a lot of big cities, but it's especially so for New York, because The States were built by immigrants. In New York nobody cares where you're from and it's also a very energetic city. Although we've all moved to different places now, I guess there is a part of New York that will always be present in our music."

Several band members have a Jewish background. Does that identity figure in any way in what Balkan Beat Box does?
Tamir Muskat:
"Well, we're definitely not religiously inspired in any way. The fact you can find a lot of interviews with us on Jewish websites is because the Judea-Israeli community is eager to claim anything that is in any way Israeli-oriented. It's not something that we aim for ourselves. We're just doing what we're doing and saying what we're saying and we've spoken out against Israeli policies several times in the past already. We're certainly no ambassadors of Israel. Judaism is part of my culture, but it's not what Balkan Beat Box is about. Musically speaking the Balkan sounds and melodies are very similar to those of Jewish Klezmer music, so people might easily confuse the two."

When I talked to Shantel a while ago he said: "Music should primarily be about enjoying oneself and about spreading positive vibes... and also about stopping time in a way and creating a synergy between people from all kinds of different backgrounds and nationalities." Do you agree with that statement?
Tamir Muskat:
"Absolutely, although I think it wouldn't be enough for Balkan Beat Box. What binds us with Shantel is that we both attract a multi-cultural crowd at our shows. Being able to combine the energy of these various cultures, whose governments might even be at odds with one another, and erasing the existing borders between them, is already a powerful thing in itself, but in Balkan Beat Box we want to say what we mean as well. (laughs) Tomer Yosef, our mc, is a very good lyricist, so it's only natural he has things to say. Our music is highly energetic, but there's still plenty of content in our songs. What happens is that that high energy and the beats we use in our music makes it easier to digest the messages we put in our songs."

There's also a very clear influence of Jamaican dancehall and reggae in Balkan Beat Box' music.
Tamir Muskat:
"Yeah, that's just one of the vegetables we put in our musical soup. I'm mostly responsible for creating the beats and samples we use in our music, and personally I'm mostly influenced by dub and old ska records. Tomer has also always been very much into reggae and dancehall, but as he is the band's vocalists, he expresses that in his raps. We don't just want to copy things, but rather take influences and give them our own interpretation."

Does it take you guys a long time to record an album or do you prefer working quickly?
Tamir Muskat:
"Usually it doesn't take us all that long to record an album, but there's always the fact that different band members don't all live in the same country, so when we do get together, things have to be organized and structured. We never do any pre-studio work, so all the magic, from writing the lyrics over composing the songs to recording them, has to happen in these sparse moments when we are actually together in the studio. Working this way has always felt very natural to us."

What's the story behind the title of your latest album, 'Blue Eyed Black Boy'?
Tamir Muskat:
"Well one of the reasons we called the album like that is because, when Tomer's wife was pregnant with their first child, I was thinking to myself: "Wow Tomer is very dark-skinned and his wife is blond and has blue eyes. What if their child is a blue-eyed black boy?" Around the same time I was working on a new beat sequence and I decided to call it 'Blue Eyed Black Boy'. When Tomer later heard that rhythm he developed it into the song it is now, which talks about all the bullshit that is going on in the world - cultures, countries and religions clashing with one another - all because people are not prepared to accept each other for what they are. It's something we all do on some level or the other. The blue-eyed black boy is like the odd one out, someone who doesn't belong anywhere, who cannot be categorized and put in any of these silly subdivisions we create for ourselves, and maybe he even represents the future because in a way he is the answer to all our problems."