To those of you who, with every gentle evening breeze, feel their bodies longing for the dusty, bright scenery of the Middle East, but won’t let go of their funky inclinations—we got just the thing for you this time. Meet Bint El Funk: the Daughters of Funk.
This seven-piece band offers a refreshing combination of a powerful female lead and an almost equal number of male and female musicians (including a female guitarist). Bint El Funk is blessed with a unique and powerful sound. This is a live version of their song, “Ya Habibi,” or “My Dear One” in Arabic, filmed in the market in the old city in Jerusalem. Many of their lyrics are written in Arabic—Yemenite Arabic, to be precise—reflecting the Yemeni roots of Shiran Karni, the band’s lead singer.
Such mixing of cultures might seem surprising, but Bint El Funk is a journey into some of the musicians’ family origins (though they are all Jews, living in Israel). There’s also a sprinkling of political commentary.
“Min Zaman” is the band’s most famous track to date, and is sung both in Hebrew and Arabic; it’s a song about a cultural encounter that wonders: “Your language touches yours and my tongue mixes with yours, so how will you explain that in both of our hearts are only fear and hatred?” The lyrics and music are credited to Regev Baruch, the band’s percussionist.
Bint El Funk is a play on words: “bint” means daughter or daughters in Arabic, which gives away both the Arabic influences on the band, its significant female contingent. It also references the famous Arabic song “Bint El Sultan”, or “Daughter of the Sultan.” The “funk” part, hopefully, is obvious—and the funk never fails to make itself heard, with the help of the loyal horn section.
This last track, “Bo Kvar Elay,” performed live in the annual Indnegev festival in the Israeli desert, is a funky, Hebrew-translated version of an old Turkish tune, “Selda.”
Bint El Funk has been performing in various festivals all across Israel for the last couple of years. They are known for their energy and inspiring arrangements. Here’s another outdoor performance of “Umac,” or “Your Mother.”
Last year, the band released their first and eponymous album, which can be found on the band’s bandcamp site. It includes studio versions of all eight tracks officially released so far (four of which are included in this post). It closes with my personal favorite, “Zrom“, which in Hebrew slang means “flow with it,” an expression advising the listener to, basically, chillax. A funky, powerful closure.