Social experimenter, jazz musician, scholar. Rising artist Eran Sabo has many personas, and his debut music video for single “Trapped” under his alternate stage name Celestial Grounds only further adds to the mystery of The New School alum Sabo’s artistry.
Sabo speaks exclusively with The Knockturnal about his relocation from Kfar-Saba, Israel to Manhattan, his mentors, faith and what’s next.
The Knockturnal: How did you get your start in music?
Eran Sabo: My older brother played classical piano for many years and when I was in 2nd grade, I tried it out myself. The teacher was super strict so I didn’t work out. A couple of year later, my mom bought me a guitar for my birthday and said she found a teacher I’m going to love. She was right!
The Knockturnal: Would you say you’re from a musical family?
Eran Sabo: Aside from my brother who still plays, just not professionally, both my parents played piano growing up, and my dad sings in a choir in Israel.
The Knockturnal: How did Israel shape you as a musician?
Eran Sabo: I was very fortunate to be around extremely talented musicians and had incredible teachers in high school. I went to an arts high school on the border of Givataim and Tel Aviv called Thelma Yellin, which concentrates students from all over the country. Also serving as a musician in the Israeli Defense Force provided plenty of interesting experiences. From a different angle, Israel being a “melting pot” has definitely influenced me a lot, both as a musician and a person. Growing up around people with roots in Yemen, Morocco, Russia, Poland, Romania, Iraq, and more, exposed me to a lot of music from different cultures that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.
The Knockturnal: Who are some of your favorite singers and producers?
Eran Sabo: That’s a tough one! There are a lot. But for now I’d say Thom Yorke, Beck, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and Kendrick Lamar. For producers, it’s Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), and of course George Martin (The Beatles).
The Knockturnal: Who are the important mentors in your career?
Eran Sabo: In high school I met Amit Golan, who was my mentor until he passed away in 2010. He was a jazz pianist that studied at the New School where I went as well, and he was the most passionate and inspiring teacher I’ve ever had.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about your new video.
Eran Sabo: I’m excited about this one a lot! It’s the first music video that I’m releasing. It’s a story of an inner demon that struggles to get the attention of the person he lives in.
The Knockturnal: What’s “Trapped” about?
Eran Sabo: It’s about coming to terms with situations when you’re feeling trapped and trying to internalize the concept that there’s a chance for growth. It’s also about understanding that there is no light without darkness.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about Celestial Grounds vs. Eran Sabo as a musician.
Eran Sabo: Celestial Grounds is strictly reserved for music that’s original and for artistic purposes. Being a musician– that’s where Eran Sabo comes in– also involves doing work for other people.
The Knockturnal: What’s your musical work with the synagogue?
Eran Sabo: Ever since moving to NYC from Israel, I had to re-explore my Judaism. In Israel, one doesn’t need to be proactive to feel and be Jewish. Here it’s different. You have to want it and make choices accordingly. Since music is such a deep part of who I am– and so is Judaism– the connection between the two is inevitable for me. I love working with the synagogue!
The Knockturnal: What’s next for you?
Eran Sabo: I will release an EP at some point with this music, absolutely. And I already have music for a second EP.
The Knockturnal: How can fans connect with you?
Eran Sabo: @celestial.grounds on Instagram is the best way.
The Knockturnal: Final thoughts?
Eran Sabo: I’m really excited to release my debut project to the world. Stay tuned!