Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kutiman Orchestra performing in Riga in 2014
The Kutiman Orchestra performing in Riga in 2014
Background information
Birth nameOphir Kutiel
Born (1982-04-21) 21 April 1982 (age 42)
OriginJerusalem, Israel
Genresfunk, jazz, house, electronica, experimental, afro beat, psychedelic
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, video artist, animator
Instrumentsdrums, keyboard, guitar, bass
Years active2006–present

Ophir Kutiel (Hebrew: אופיר קותיאל; born April 21, 1982), professionally known as Kutiman (Hebrew: קותימן) , is an Israeli musician, composer, producer and animator. He is best known for creating the online music video project, ThruYOU, a self-titled album, and the viral ongoing series "Thru the City" including his "Mix Tel Aviv" piece, which went viral on YouTube.


Kutiel was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and grew up in Zichron Yaacov. He commenced piano lessons at the age of six and learned to play drums and guitar at 14. When Kutiel was 18, he moved to Tel Aviv to study jazz at Rimon Music College.[1]

While working at a convenience store in Tel Aviv, Kutiel discovered a college radio station that was playing genres of music that were vastly different from the classical jazz he was accustomed to. Following this experience, Kutiman met Sabbo, another Israeli artist, who introduced him to Afrobeat and funk music, including the sounds of James Brown and Fela Kuti, among many others. As Kutiel's taste for music deviated from his traditional training, in 2003, Kutiman embarked on a journey to Jamaica, where he researched reggae and worked with Stephen and Damien Marley.[2]

Music career[edit]

In 2006, Kutiman signed to German music label, Melting Pot Music, based in Cologne. Soon after, his first single, "No Groove Where I Come From", was released, followed by the release of the hit song "Music is Ruling My World"—a collaboration with Karolina of Habanot Nechama. Kutiman's eponymous debut album, which received an 8.2 rating from Pitchfork Media[3] and a 7 out of 10 from PopMatters,[4] was released in the fall of 2007. Under the Radar picked Kutiman as one of the "Artists to Watch in 2008", along with Glasvegas and MGMT. Kutiman has also won the 2010 ACUM Prize for producing Karolina's album What Will I Do Now?[5]

In the summer of 2010, Kutiman co-headlined a concert bill with DJ Shadow in Tel Aviv, performing with his live band, The Kutiman Orchestra.[6][7]

In June 2012 Kutiman released a single and video clip, "Dover. D". This video, created by Kutiman, documents a street art project by Dover D.[8] Kutiman produced this song and played all instruments, featuring Elran Dekel, lead singer of Funk'n'stein, on vocals. This song was featured on Gilles Peterson's BBC Radio 6 Music show [9]

In 2014, Kutiman was nominated for a Webby Award[10] in the Video Remix/Mashup category for his ‘Thru Tokyo’ project, in which he created an intimate musical landscape for the city of Tokyo. He has since been commissioned by various cities such as JerusalemTel Aviv, Riga, Krakow and New York to create audio/visual portraits of each city’s uniqueness.

Following the success of ‘Thru You,’ Kutiman released ‘Thru You Too’ in October 2014, an online music album composed of unrelated YouTube videos. He was awarded a 2015 Webby Honoree[11] for his work on ‘Thru You Too’. This project led to collaborations with some of the world’s most prominent producers, DJs, and musicians for the ‘Thru You Remixes’. It featured nine producers, representing different genres and countries: Garden City Movement, Mixmonster & Kalbata, Jim Dunloop & Grzly Adams, Rejoicer, Free The Robots, Red Axes, Tomgi, La Dame Noir and Copia Doble Systema.

In July 2015, Kutiman released Space Cassava, a two-track vinyl featuring deep jazz and funk. The EP served as a soft launch for Kutiman's label, Siyal Music. The official launch of the label kicked off with the release of Kutiman's sophomore album 6AM in June 2016. The eight track album features a more psychedelic sound.

Shortly after the release of "6am" in July 2016, Kutiman was nominated and won the Vibe Israel & Shorty Story award for "Outstanding Content Creator in Israel".

"Thru You" (2009)[edit]

In 2009, Kutiman released "Thru You," an online music video project, featuring a mixture of samples of YouTube videos, and the video project received more than 10 million views in around two weeks. Time Magazine named it one of the "50 Best Inventions of 2009".[12] Due to the success of Thru You, in October 2010, Kutiman was invited by YouTube to perform at the "YouTube Play" grand opening at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.[13]

Two years after the release of Thru You, Kutiman created a new Thru You-like video, titled My Favorite Color,[14] subsequently attracting the attention of numerous publications, including Wired,[15] Fader,[16] and Mashable, the latter awarding the piece its "Video of the Day" accolade.[17] In a June 2009 Internet radio interview, Kutiman described how he first conceived of Thru You:

At first I took some drummers -- before I had the idea about Thru You, I took some drummers from YouTube and I played on top of them -- just for fun, you know. And then one day, just before I plugged in my guitar to play on top of a drummer from YouTube, I thought to myself, you know, maybe I can find a bass and guitar and other players on YouTube to play with this drummer...

Kutiman spent two months working on the Thru You project, and, as Kutiman described:

It took me two months, but it was really intense. I barely ate, I just worked on a computer and went to sleep...day and night, and night and day...didn't see any friends, no family...not even the sun.

After disclosing his work to only 20 friends, Kutiman's project spread virally across the web, racking up more than one million views in less than a week.[18] After viewing Thru You, open source advocate, Lawrence Lessig, praised the project for pioneering a new, less-regulated form of media, stating, "If you come to the Net armed with the idea that the old system of copyright is going to work just fine here, this more than anything is going to get you to recognize: you need some new ideas."[19]

Kutiman did not often travel to promote his project but on 19 June 2009, he visited Wrocław, Poland, responding to an invitation from an online radio station. In an interview, Kutiman described the interest of various media outlets in the Thru You" project, as well as his own willingness to focus on his work:

I got a lot of offers, you know, for gigs and for DJing and for just interviews, but I really do my best, you know. I don't really like it, honestly – but you're so nice and kind, so I'm having a great time.[20]

"Thru You Too"[edit]

On 12 September 2014 Kutiman released "Give It Up", a first video from the sequel project entitled "Thru You Too".[21] The "Give It Up" gained over a million views in a matter of days. The "Thru You Too" included six female vocalists as the center of the album. On 23 September the second video "No One In This World" was released and a week later the rest of the videos were released on Kutiman's YouTube channel and a companion site was launched. The new project was covered by many international media outlets such as Slate [22] TIME Magazine,[23] Billboard Magazine,[24] and The New York Times.[25]

"Thru You Too Remixes"[edit]

In 2015, Kutiman's popular Thru You Too album was remixed and released as an online album in the form of a website. A quest to capture Thru You Too's profound impact led to an original collaboration with A-list international producers who each give their own personal interpretation of the Thru You Too tracks. The international producers each represent a different country and musical style, such as hip hop, big beat, house, dub, and electropop. The project was released as an online album[26] with an original website.

"White Monkey"[edit]

This two-track EP was released on April 23, 2017, and featured Sefi "Ramirez" Zisling on trumpet, Shlomi Alon on saxophone, Yair Slutzki on trombone, and mixing by Sabbo. The EP was released digitally and on vinyl by Kutiman's own label, Siyal Music.

"Don't Hold Onto The Clouds"[edit]

Released on Siyal Music on July 6, 2018, Kutiman took a new musical direction with "Don't Hold Onto The Clouds," a 4-track release featuring ambient, electronica, minimalism and new age among other styles. “For me, it’s just relaxing,” Kutiman says.“For the past few years, this is the kind of music I’ve mostly listened to. I guess I’m trying to relax. Or maybe just sleep better!”


Commissioned by Greenpeace, Kutiman released "Antarctica," another ambient-jazz fusion piece to help bring awareness to a concerning global issue. In the piece, Kutiman performs solo on keys and percussion.

Video Mashups[edit]

Kutiman mixes Maroon 5: "My Favorite Color"[edit]

The "My Favorite Color" project blends together a deeper, jazz-oriented sound that earned positive reviews from outlets such as Wired,[27] CBS News,[28] and TechCrunch.[29] The video maintains the ThruYou style of using various YouTube video clips to form a single compilation, but the sound is more complex and dreamlike. "My Favorite Color" features many different clips, including an organ-playing mother, a young vocalist singing in her London bedroom, and an Omaha-based saxophonist performing a free improvisation.

My Favorite Band: A Tribute to "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin[edit]

Paying tribute to the influential band Led Zeppelin, Kutiman created a piece entitled "My Favorite Band"—it became the first user-generated "mashup" video cover of its song "Black Dog".[30] Using unrelated YouTube videos of various musicians performing "Black Dog", Kutiman mixed the clips together to create an innovative cover version. Kutiman's tribute to Led Zeppelin was screened at Flatpack Film Festival as part of the "Home of Metal" celebrations. The screening occurred in Wolverhampton, UK, close to an area frequented by Led Zeppelin.

This Is Real Democracy[edit]

In 2011, Kutiman released his video, "This Is Real Democracy".[31] The video's intention is to raise awareness by using footage of people demonstrating in the streets and of world leaders (past and present); the video is Kutiman's attempt to address and respond to events that were broadcast through other social media feeds. Although some of the video sequences were harvested from YouTube, they mostly originate from a traditional media source, official TV stations, a new element in Kutiman's work.

Kutiman generally refrains from making overtly political statements and speculations were raised regarding the title of the piece; discussions asked if "This is Real Democracy" was a reference to Mubarak, Netanyahu, Cameron and Sarkozy; or if it was in reference to the unleashed power of the people as they marched, protested, revolted or rioted.[citation needed]

Off Grid[edit]

Kutiman released Off Grid on February 11, 2016, as an online album consisting of 96 unrelated YouTube clips. The project pays homage to free jazz and psychedelic music. Its release was accompanied by a website, www.Kutiman.com Archived 3 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine.

On September 20, 2016, Kutiman premiered his Off Grid exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The project was also featured in Ron Arad's Curtain Call installation in London and Singapore. In July 2017, Off Grid arrived at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

Thru The City (Ongoing Series)[edit]

Thru Jerusalem[edit]

In June 2011, Kutiman was chosen as the "Artist of the Season" for "The Jerusalem Season of Culture" and he created the video "Thru Jerusalem".[32] This piece differs from his past mixes, as he himself approached and shot the musicians, rather than finding them on YouTube. Although Kutiman filmed the musicians himself, he did not provide any guidance or direction as they played and mixed the footage himself. In July 2011, the song won First Prize in the global Call for Music Videos of Palestinian-Jewish Duos or Groups presented by the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue.

Thru Krakow[edit]

In 2012 Kutiman was invited by the Jewish Culture Festival to Kraków, Poland and created second clip in his Thru series – Thru Krakow, featuring many festival artists, including: Frank London, David Krakauer, Uri Caine, Paul Shapiro, Cantor Benzion Miller, Raphael Roginski, Mikołaj Trzaska, DJ Funklore (Tomasz Jurecki) and the Alaev Family.

Thru Tokyo[edit]

In August 2012, Kutiman was invited to shoot and record traditional and modern Tokyo, Japan-based musicians and artists to create Thru Tokyo.[33] The video was released in 2013. Thru Tokyo is the third video in the "Thru the City" series, following the successful Thru Jerusalem and Thru Kraków.

The project was a collaboration with PBS, which broadcast the footage exclusively on its YouTube channel.

Thru Tel Aviv[edit]

Following Thru Tokyo, Kutiman teamed up with The British Council and The Space to create Thru Tel Aviv. Mix the City invites people all over the world to create their own interpretation of Tel Aviv. Kutiman recorded a four-minute YouTube video of musicians that represent the diverse voices of Tel Aviv including Acre-born Palestinian musician Ziwar Bahlul.

The release of the video was accompanied by the interactive website Mix the City.[34]

Music videos[edit]

In addition to Kutiman's audiovisual collages, for which he has composed the music, Kutiman has also directed music videos.

Kutiman's first video was an animated music video created for his song, "Chaser", from his debut album. Kutiman's second animated music video was for Hadag Nahash's "Eze Kif".[35][36]

In 2010, Kutiman worked with Karolina to create a music video for her song "Smile 2 Me",[37] which was shot in 150 different locations in Tel Aviv.[citation needed] The video has been displayed at Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, as part of the Flux Screening Series. Kutiman also received the ACUM Prize for Karolina's album What Shall I Do Now?, which he produced with Sabbo.

"Light Up", Kutiman's video for Boom Pam, a surf rock band,[38] was voted one of the "10 Best Videos" by City Mouse, one of Israel's leading websites.[citation needed] Kutiman utilized video projections that had been manipulated with various materials for the creation of the music video. The song embodies a semi-Moroccan rhythm, 1970s metal, "psych-fuzz", and is a tuba-driven song with deep, amusing lyrics.

Film: Presenting Princess Shaw[edit]

In 2015, Magnolia Pictures alongside director Ido Haar debuted Presenting Princess Shaw, the true story of Samantha Montgomery aka Princess Shaw, an aspiring musician, and artist from New Orleans who Kutiman discovered. The film made a splash at film festivals around the globe and received outstanding reviews from New York Times, Rotten Tomatoes, and Rolling Stone.

On September 22, 2016, Presenting Princess Shaw won the Israeli Academy Award (known as the Ophir Awards) for "Best Documentary." Kutiman and Princess Shaw did a live performance together at the ceremony.


Musical Collaborations[edit]

In the early 2000s Kutiman has formed a production partnership with fellow musician Ronen Sabbo. They produced several Israeli artists, including Karolina, Ester Rada, Roni Duani and Shay Gabso. The pair also released a few reggae-inspired singles and an album entitled "Better Days", based on recordings the duo made in 2004 in Jamaica with local vocalists such as Turbulence, Norris Man and Milton Blake.

In 2009 Sabbo & Kuti produced Karolina's album "What Will I Do Now?", winning the musical arrangement award by Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Music in Israel (ACUM). In 2013 their production for the Ester Rada single "Life Happens" became the singer's breakthrough hit and the most played song on Israeli radio station 88fm, while Karolina's 2013 single "Shadow of the Palm Tree" which they produced was the 8th most played song on Israeli radio & TV, according to ACUM.

Commissioned Collaborations[edit]

Kutiman has been commissioned by Fiverr , Jerusalem Season of Culture , Mix The City/Thru Tel Aviv and Google (at the Guggenheim Museum ) to create original pieces, maintaining full creative freedom.

Fiverr: "Inner Galactic Lovers"[edit]

Kutiman created an original song and video for Fiverr . He tapped into Fiverr's community of musicians to create the Futuristic/Soul tune “Inner Galactic Lovers”.[39] Kutiman virtually assembled 24 Fiverr musicians from a dozen countries for a musical collaboration. The virtual jam session consists of individually videotaped music performances orchestrated under his guidance.


  • No Groove Where I Come From 7" (Afro Kats) October 2006
  • No Groove Where I Come From! 12" (MPM) November 2006
  • No Reason For You 12" (MPM) March 2007
  • Music Is Ruling My World (w/ remix by DJ Day) 12" (MPM) June 2007
  • Kutiman CD/LP (MPM) November 2007
  • Dover D (B.M.usic) June 2012
  • Space Cassava 12" (Siyal Music) July 2015
  • "6 AM" (Siyal Music) CD/LP June 2016
  • "White Monkey" (Siyal Music) 7" April 2017
  • "Dont Hold Onto The Clouds" (Siyal Music) cassette/LP July 2018
  • "Antarctia" (Siyal Music) February 2019
  • "Wachaga" (Siyal Music) digital/LP/CD July 2020
  • "Open" digital/LP/CD 2022


  1. ^ "Kutiman". Melting Pot music. Melting Pot Music / Oliver von Felbert. 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Kutiman – Kutiman – Djouls.com – Music You Don't Hear On The Radio". Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  3. ^ Joe Tangari (27 February 2008). "Kutiman". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  4. ^ Alan Ranta (7 March 2008). "Kutiman: Kutiman". Pop Matters. PopMatters Media, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  5. ^ David (18 September 2012). "Asaf Avidan – Israel's great musical hope". Israelity. Israelity. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  6. ^ Midwest2MiddleEast (18 July 2010). "DJ Shadow's first 10 minutes in Tel Aviv". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Dj Shadow in Tel Aviv & a performance by Kutiman Orchestra Live". thisislike. Dmitry Paranyushkin | Nodus Labs | Ways Ltd. 14 July 2010. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Kutiman". YouTube.
  9. ^ "BBC Radio 6 Music - Gilles Peterson, Flying Lotus in Conversation". BBC. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Kutiman "Thru Tokyo" Nominated for Webby Awards - GIANT STEP™". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  11. ^ "NEW Webby Gallery + Index".
  12. ^ "The 50 Best Inventions of 2009". Time. 12 November 2009. Archived from the original on 15 November 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Kutiman: excerpt from YouTube Play at the Guggenheim". YouTube. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  14. ^ kutiman (19 March 2011). "My Favorite Color". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Kutiman Returns With Hot New YouTube Remix". Wired. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  16. ^ "Video: Kutiman, "My Favorite Color"". Fader. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  17. ^ "YouTube Video of the Day: Musician Mashes Up Vids To Create Gorgeous, New Song". Mashable. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  18. ^ Timothy Karr (12 March 2009). "The Future Begins Through You". The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  19. ^ Lawrence Lessig (11 March 2009). "REMIX: buy the remix". Lessig. Lawrence Lessig. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  20. ^ "Kutiman Wroclove 3" – an interview for radiowroclove.com, June 19, 2009:[1][dead link]
  21. ^ "Thru You Too". Thru You Too. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  22. ^ "Here's "Give it Up," Kutiman's Brilliant Song Comprised Entirely of Amateur YouTube Clips". 13 September 2014.
  23. ^ "Musician Creates Beautiful Song by Weaving Together Unrelated YouTube Clips". Time. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  24. ^ "Exclusive: Pioneering YouTube Collagist Kutiman, Millions of Views Later, is Not in It for the Money". Billboard. 17 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Kutiman Returns with More YouTube Sampling Madness". 12 September 2014.
  26. ^ "KUTIMAN". Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  27. ^ "Kutiman Returns with Hot New YouTube Remix, 'My Favorite Color'". Wired.
  28. ^ "YouTube sampling becomes beautiful, bluesy song "My Favorite Color"". CBS News.
  29. ^ "He Took on the Video Star, Now Kutiman Takes on Democracy".
  30. ^ kutiman (15 July 2011). "My Favorite Band". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  31. ^ kutiman (19 September 2011). "Kutiman – This is Real Democracy". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  32. ^ kutiman (13 June 2011). "Kutiman -Thru Jerusalem". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  33. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  34. ^ "Mix the City". Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  35. ^ Michael Elves (23 March 2008). "K is for Kutiman". Ear to the Sound. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  36. ^ kutiman (14 July 2006). "EZE KIF ..Snake Fish". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  37. ^ kutiman (15 September 2010). "KUTIMAN video for KAROLINA – Smile 2 Me". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  38. ^ kutiman (25 June 2011). "Kutiman Video for BoomPam – Light Up". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  39. ^ "Kutiman - Inner Galactic Lovers (Kutiman mixes Fiverr)". YouTube.

External links[edit]