Israeli music manager Guy Dreifuss talks about the situation in the club scene since October 7th. Financially it is also becoming increasingly difficult.
Survivors of the attack on the “Supernova” music festival at a rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/dpa
taz: Guy Dreifuss, what is the mood in the Israeli club scene since the Hamas massacre on October 7th, which was also directed against the psytrance festival Supernova in the Negev desert?
Guy Dreifuss: Since October 7th there has been no more club scene in Israel. All happiness is gone, everyone is like zombies. Bars, clubs, restaurants – they are closed. Either out of solidarity or because people are psychologically unable to open them. Last weekend was the first time that a few stores even attempted to reopen. But there was little going on, the music remained quiet. I was DJing at Phi Garden, usually a cool underground club. But now it’s set up, no one feels like dancing. The whole country is in shock.
What does this mean for the scene financially? Can she stay afloat?
Many people who work in nightlife have already had to give up their apartments in Tel Aviv and move back in with their parents. The cost of living in Israel is very high: even a few months without work is not possible. It’s a very difficult time for everyone right now.
Guy Dreifuss was born in Zurich, Switzerland, moved to Israel with his family at the age of twelve and now lives in Tel Aviv. The 42-year-old Israeli is a promoter of festivals such as DGTL Tel Aviv and Port2Port. He also works as a manager for DJs and producers such as Red Axes, Mita Gami and Kino Todo. In response to the October 7 massacre, he organized the solidarity compilation “Bring Them Back” for survivors of the Supernova festival attacked by Hamas and the families of the hostages in Gaza.
You know many people who were at the Supernova festival attacked by Hamas, including the organizers. How are you doing?
Many friends were murdered there. I have been to numerous funerals in the past few weeks. At least five visitors from my circle of friends were kidnapped to Gaza; they are among the more than 250 hostages. The organizers of Supernova are great people, they want to make people happy and offer a kind of escapism. That’s why celebrating is so important in Israel: to escape a bit from the brutality of everyday life, the terrorist attacks and the security situation. Immediately after the attack, a safe space was opened where survivors meet every day. It is a place where they process what has happened, with therapists and music.
They also co-organized a benefit compilation for Supernova, their title: “Bring Them Back”…
Somehow we had to get out of this state of shock and do something proactive about it. So we asked Israeli artists if they would provide us with tracks on a voluntary basis. We use the proceeds to raise money for the families of the hostages and the survivors of the festival. So far, the equivalent of around 47,000 euros has been raised. The compilation also shows how much creativity there is here.
They are also managers of some well-known Israeli DJs and producers who travel extensively internationally, such as Red Axes, Mita Gami and Kino Todo. What does the attack and the resulting war against Hamas mean for them?
Last week Red Axes’ new album was released by Fabric Records in London. This has been in the planning stages for months, we definitely wanted to release it. Twelve performances were planned in Europe, but we canceled them. It’s impossible to focus on music right now. We also feared that these performances could be targeted by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish groups. Because Red Axes speak very openly about the current situation. For this they get a lot of negative comments on social media.
How does it feel to be an Israeli active in the international electronic music scene?
We played the game for a long time: we always apologized for being Israelis. For years I felt like I had to justify my very existence. But we don’t want to be ashamed of it anymore. We don’t care now. A rethink is currently taking place among many left-wing Israelis. We have always believed in peace and that the Palestinian side wants to live as peacefully as we do. But we were obviously too naive.
They also organize festivals in Israel, such as DGTL Tel Aviv and Port2Port. What does the Hamas attack mean for the future of such major events?
Even before October 7th, it was incredibly difficult to organize and secure large events. We had to plan around a third of the budget for security and police, sometimes even more. There’s very little left. It was already a fight for survival for many promoters. Now things are getting even more difficult. Personally, I don’t see how such major events can even take place in Israel in the next two to three years.
Added to this are the reactions of the international club scene: many take one-sided sides with Palestinians and show little solidarity with Israeli civilians, not even with their own local scene…
Many of these DJs aren’t even pro-Palestinian, they’re just anti-Israel and boycotting us. Others who play in Israel a few times a year, whom we see as friends, suddenly become silent. But there are some German DJs in particular who have clearly condemned the attacks and expressed their solidarity: Sven Väth, Roman Flugel and Âme, for example.
Major platforms in the club scene such as Boiler Room and Resident Advisor have even called for a strike for Palestine or are only sharing solidarity actions for the Palestinian side. What does that do to you?
This is not new, unfortunately this trend has been around for several years. The propaganda machine of Hamas and Co. was very successful in this regard. And that ultimately leads to major media outlets, which have a huge reach in the dance floor scene, taking one side without really understanding the conflict. They turn the facts around – and suddenly we Israelis are the powerful majority, not a minority of nine million people in the region, surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs. And we are basically to blame for everything. But what do these media say about the situation of Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Lebanon?
Will the Israeli club scene ever be able to recover from the current situation? How can we return to normality?
We are Jews, we always recover from it. Because we have to, we have no other choice. We have been living with the boycott against us from parts of the scene for years. I believe we will get stronger from this, but it will take a while. Even though the scene will change. Because we have also changed since October 7th.