Song of the Day: Onili – Sentimental

photo by Helene Bozzi

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is Sentimental by Onili from the forthcoming album First Kiss.

Onili – Sentimental (MP3)

To mark the beginning of the 5768th year on the Jewish calendar — happy Rosh Hashanah, everybody! — we bring you this seductive song by an up-and-coming band out of Israel: Onili. Actually, the timing was a lucky coincidence, but it’s no accident that Onili’s songs are getting regular airplay on Cheryl’s show. Listeners have been vocal about the sultry pop sounds that originally led her to seek out Onili’s album. Fans email Cheryl regularly, asking to find out more about this band. Since they have yet to release a proper album and there’s not too much to find out about them online just yet, we decided to go right to the band, represented by their namesake, Onili:

Jim: KEXP listeners have been digging your sounds, but they know very little about Onili. Could you tell us a little about your background and how the band got started?

Onili: I was looking for a bass player, and Yonatan Levi showed up. After one week in the band, he said “let’s make an album.” I told him “wait, let’s first make a few gigs,” but he said we shouldn’t wait cuz it takes a few albums to breakout. I listened to this crazy redheaded boy and we produced this first album, called First Kiss. It took us two years.

J: You’ve lived in both Israel and France. We are you living now? Where do you spend most of your time?

O: I’m in Israel now, after 21 years in Paris, France. I spend most of my time in Haifa, in my studio. It’s calm, there’s the sea, the mountain, I love it. But I travel to Paris a lot, for music but also for pleasure. I still have many friends there.

J: What is the Israeli music scene like? How does Onili fit into it?

O: Very hard to say, Israel is a place with people who came from all around the world and not so long ago, so you can find on the top charts Middle Eastern love songs with an Arabic touch, as well as hard rock melodic bands. And the Israeli version to “American Idol” is also a big success here… but recently some more underground bands and solo artists have started to break through. I get a very warm welcome to my music, but I sing in English so it’s a bit harder to fit in here. It’s just the very beginning of Onili so I can’t tell yet.

J: When will people be able to buy your music?

O: In October we release our first single to the radio in israel, and the album in December. For the rest of the world – as soon as we find a release, physical or digital. But people can keep in touch with us by writing to

J: If you could perform live with anyone in the world, who would it be?

O: Prince.

J: What are Onili’s plans for the future? Will you tour? If so, any chance you’ll come to the U.S.?

O: Touring wherever we can, in the U.S. of course. Some companies have started to show interest. I would love to come to play there as soon as possible. Also, I’m writing new songs for the next album and collaborating with other artists. I want to write an album for Madonna, but that’s not a plan yet!


J: One last question: Why a pink bunny?

O: Good question — a bunny because I look like one, pink… it was the current mood when I created it. It’s girly and sexy, and it balances my masculine “rebellious” side. I needed it. Now, I’m opening up to new colors. I think this bunny is going to change colors and faces, after all it’s a smiley with teeth and big ears… like me.

To keep up with Onili, their future album release and tour dates, go to their website and MySpace page. Here’s Onili performing “Games,” another song from the forthcoming album:

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