Fresh off her live performance of "Bad Little Thing" at last year's Miss Universe, Israeli singer Noa Kirel has her sights set on global superstardom. She kicked off the New Year with "Thought About That," which reclaims Kirel's power from a shitty guy who "broke her heart," and coupled the single with a sci-fi music video that gives Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century a power-pop update.
“I turned 20 this year and it’s so important for my music to inspire young women to be independent and stand up for themselves, especially in relationships," Kirel says of the release, underscoring lyrics that put herself first and make single life sound preferable (just in time for V-Day). "I like the bed to myself," she sings. "I love the space in the shower."
Now, Kirel is stripping the massive dance tune back for a special acoustic performance that showcases her vocal strength. With a live band — acoustic guitar, upright bass, keyboard and more — she makes "dancing alone" feel bright and blissful, capturing a more optimistic side of breakups.
In what ways do you relate to the lyrics of this song? Can you connect it to a personal story?
I relate to "Thought About That" on many levels and co-wrote the song from a personal perspective. Personally, I’ve opened myself up to a relationship without realizing how vulnerable I’d be if something happened down the line. Even if you’re the one to end a relationship, you can still find yourself heartbroken. This song was the result of those moments where you need to pick yourself back up, get out of bed and keep moving forward. We all need self-love and reminders to celebrate our independence, but of course it’s harder to find that inner confidence after being in a relationship for so long.
What type of preparation went into the official music video? How’d you arrive at a sci-fi, futuristic concept?
I love the idea of jumping between imaginary worlds and wanted this video to help illustrate the escape from the real situation (in this case, heartbreak) into alternate realities and happier places. There was a lot of preparation that went into the video, including collaborating on the story with the director and creative team, working on different custom looks and making sure the choreography fit within the overall vibe. I’m fully invested in my music videos and love to be involved in every part of the creative process.
Who’d you work with on choreography? Does dance come naturally to you?
For this video, I worked with the super talented Mor Hamami, who I’ve worked with on a few other videos and known for a long time. I started dancing at age three, so it comes very naturally and I love how movement helps add another layer of self-expression through my music.
Now three English-language singles in, how do you want to shake up the US pop market with your music?
I grew up inspired by US pop artists and hope that my music can offer a fresh perspective. Israeli film and TV talent has crossed over to the US, but it’s time for more pop artists to make the jump and these first three singles have been a great way for me to start introducing myself to a global audience. I’m planning to eventually spend the majority of my time in the US and am working on some exciting collaborations. I’m also developing a movie with Picturestart that will incorporate my music and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been working on.
How do you find the US to be different from Israel, in terms of style and reception?
I think the biggest difference has to do with size. Israel is clearly a way smaller country and I’ve been working in the industry there since I was 13. My fans in Israel are amazing and I couldn't have grown to where I am without them. Israeli pop music has a different warmth and energy to it that I want to make sure translates into what I do globally. Even though cultures may be different, the electricity that comes with Israeli style can translate worldwide.
As you’re building your musical identity, what do you want to stand for as an artist?
I always want to stand for female empowerment, self-love and body positivity. No matter what someone is going through, I hope my music genuinely helps people feel good regardless of where they are in the world.
Photos courtesy of Eran Levi