In the cellar of the Klub in Paris (1st arrondissement) on July 11, the excitement is palpable. Everyone is waiting for the arrival of Israeli guitarist Kfir Ochaion. Etienne can’t stand still. The young high school student would not have missed the arrival of the musician for anything in the world. “It’s super rare that he goes to France, when I saw the places on the Internet, I didn’t hesitate! » he confides to 20 minutes. Like all the spectators who came that evening, Etienne discovered Kfir on the networks.
With 1.79 million subscribers on YouTube and 637,000 subscribers on Instagram, the 42-year-old instrumentalist has become a guitar reference on the Internet. Always accompanied by his six-stringed instrument, he covers the greatest pop songs of yesterday or today and rock, adding his personal touch. No singing on his covers, the strings of his guitar replace the vocal cords of the singers.
How did you come to develop this way of playing?
I wanted to do something different when I started posting on YouTube. When I published my first cover in 2014, it was a test. I wanted to speak above all to music lovers and not only to guitarists. So I said to myself that I was going to play songs in which there is no guitar. For example, in the songs of Sia, Christina Aguilera or Alan Walker, there is no [ou très peu] of guitar. So I made the guitar the singer.
Replacing the vocal cords with guitar strings does this represent an additional difficulty on stage?
Not an additional difficulty but when I do these solo shows, it’s a real challenge. I play both vocal line and lead guitar. It’s like I’m doing a long solo for the whole song. I have to remember so many sentences [ndlr : lignes mélodiques jouées sur l’instrument] I have to be really focused.
The guitar having a dominating place in your music, do you think that this one is addressed only to the guitarists?
It is true that sometimes when I play, I see that the audience is made up exclusively of guitarists. It’s as if they came to take a lesson. They come for the technique and are very focused on how I play more than what I play. It’s gratifying, that’s for sure. But at the Klub the audience was incredible, everyone was really having fun, singing the choruses of the songs. When you see the audience enjoying the music, it’s a real pleasure!
If the live performance was mostly composed of covers, you wanted to play two compositions, in the future you want to play more and more?
Of course I like to play covers, but I really like to compose and present original songs. I released twelve albums which are only covers and now I want to release a completely original album. But I have to find the right time to do it. It’s complex to compose an entire album, but it’s exciting.
In the audience, there was an eight-year-old child who started playing the guitar and who discovered you while trying to learn the instrument, did you also start playing the guitar when you were a child?
I’m not from a family of musicians but I’ve always listened to music. I grew up listening to rock and blues classics like Hotel California, I put a spell on you. These songs quickly made me want to learn to scratch. I think I was 6 years old when my parents bought me my first guitar. It was a classical guitar with nylon strings and I spent a lot of time on it learning to play with books and then at the conservatory. After I discovered Metallicathe solo of Master of Puppets and I decided to take up the electric guitar. My very first electric guitar was a Korean or Japanese brand I believe. It was thirty years ago, I don’t really remember all the details (laughs). It was a “Westone Spectrum Fx”, I played on it for a long time and I was learning the solos of comfortably Numb and D’Hotel California by ear. We didn’t have the Internet back then.
And today, if you had one piece of advice to give to someone who wants to start playing the guitar, what would it be?
If you want to start, go for it. Take a guitar, try it out and see if it suits you. You have to like it and you can play. On the other hand, if you want to become a good guitar player, you have to practice. As with all instruments, it takes a lot of time and effort to play well. There is no shortcut. But above all, it must be fun.
Finally, do you have a recommendation of a guitarist to follow absolutely?
So who am I on Instagram? There are a lot of excellent guitarists on social networks, it’s proof that the guitar still attracts. (Laughs). If I had to pick one, I’d tell you to go follow a friend, David Levi (@davidlevigitar on Instagram). He’s not professional but he’s very talented, maybe the best guitarist around me.