Ophir Kutiel (aka Kutiman) is an Israeli-born composer, instrumentalist, and producer known for his dance- and groove-oriented style and various collaborative, online, video-based music projects. He also works as one-half of the production duo Sabbo & Kuti. Born in Jerusalem in 1982, Kutiel started out on the piano at age six and by his teens was also playing drums and guitar. After high school, he studied jazz at Rimon Music College, where he met fellow producer Sabbo, who introduced him to reggae, Afrobeat, and funk. In 2006, he signed to the Cologne-based Melting Pot Music. A year later, he delivered his debut album, Kutiman, which included the singles “No Groove Where I Come From” and “Music Is Ruling My World,” featuring Habanot Nechama’s Karolina (Karolina Avratz).
Around this time, Kutiel developed his collaborative Thru You project, which found him sampling completely unrelated YouTube videos by various musicians from across multiple genres and combining them into new songs. The finished videos released in 2009 went viral, racking up over ten million views, and helped raise Kutiel’s profile. Since then, he has participated in similar video projects including Thru You Too, My Favorite Color, Off the Grid, and several city-based projects, including videos for Krakow, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv. An in-demand studio pro, Kutiel works regularly with Sabbo in the production duo Sabbo & Kuti. In 2010, they won Israel’s ACUM award for their work on Karolina’s album, What Do I Do Now? As a solo artist, Kutiman returned with the jazz-inflected Space Cassava in 2016. A year later, he released 6 A.M., which featured appearances by Adam Scheflan and Karolina.
About his upcoming album”Wachaga”
People have been living around the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro for millennia. One day in 2014 another jeep pulled up, in a rural neighbourhood where many people from the Wachaga nation live, work and play. This jeep contained Ophir ‘Kutiman’ Kutiel, the producer, multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker who is get-stopped-in-the-supermarket famous in his home country despite being terminally shy of the spotlight.
Kutiman carried microphones, video recording equipment and a request for creative collaboration to Tanzania – and he left Wachaga with a set of recordings. Some of these were of everyday sounds and some contained special sounds: school children from the city of Arusha playing drums or the dancers who wore bells to add a percussive element to the movement, like the metal plate in a tap dancer’s shoe.
This fourth studio album is a combination of the material he collected on his 2014 trip with recordings made with saxophonist Shlomi Alon, trumpeter Sefi Zisling and trombonist Yair Slutzki, alongside his own playing and studio wizardry. He was listening to a lot of spiritual jazz during the recording, and in a departure from his usual cut and paste style, played on top of the recordings.
It’s a creative push that has paid off: Horns and synth melodies spiral across borrowed rhythm patterns and chants which provide the bedrock around which Kutiman builds his own musical dwelling, creating new pathways of jazz, psychedelia and circular meditative zone-outs.