Oi Va Voi

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Oi Va Voi
Oi Va Voi Cambridge 2009.jpg
Oi Va Voi at a concert in Cambridge, September 2009
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Alternative
Years active 2000–present
Labels Outcaste, V2
Associated acts KT Tunstall
Website [1]
Members Josh Breslaw
Matt Jury
Steve Levi
Michael Vinaver
David Orchant
Past members Nik Ammar
Sophie Solomon
Lemez Lovas
Leo Bryant

Oi Va Voi is a British band that takes its name from a Yiddish-derived exclamation popular in modern Hebrew meaning, approximately, "Oh, dear!" The band formed in London, England, in the year 2000. Their sound draws on Jewish music from both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions, including both klezmer and Judaeo-Spanish music, Eastern European music, as well as contemporary electronic music.

Early years[edit]

The London scene of the late nineties was a melting pot of world music genres and scenes that were beginning to coalesce around dance music, propelled and facilitated in part by the early days of the internet and to a great extent by the efforts of DJ's and broadcasters such as Charlie Gillett and Gilles Peterson. The story of the band's genesis started in the two cities of Oxford and London, with Jonathan Walton aka Lemez Lovas meeting Josephine Burton then bringing in Steve Levi and Sophie Solomon and later Leo Bryant whilst in Oxford studying. Then when the band moved to London Josh Breslaw joined the line up, followed guitarist Nik Ammar. Within a year the first line up started to form and the band found a fertile young Jewish urban arts scene to grow in. London has long been home to a thriving Jewish community, whose predominantly Ashkenazy character had been defined by the waves of Yiddish speaking refugees pouring out of Ukraine and the Pale of Settlement after the Russian Tsarist Pogroms. The cultural character of this community were the backgrounds of its individual members, who had all descended from this East European Jewry. It is this sanguine, klezmer infused approach to melody that fused with their own millennial urban approach to rhythms, beats and songwriting that made them capture the pivot of the ages with the turning of the millennium.

Early years 2000 - 2001[edit]

The line-up found an audience amongst regular performances at The Spitz in East London which is where they found a crowd keen to hear more and it wasn't long before a following started to take shape. With a London following and a fresh new sound, heads started to turn and it wasn't long before shows in LA, Moscow and Washington followed. Former singer Josephine Burton left the band and went to set up the agency Yad Arts together with BBC DJ Max Reinhardt. Yad Arts arranged collaborations for the band, leading to a cross-cultural venture with moroccan band Momo on a project called Roots & Harmony. The North African musical collaborations continued and they soon collaborated with the French Algerian pianist Maurice El Medioni of El Gusto.

Digital Folklore 2001 - 2003[edit]

Wanting to capture and record the music that the band had been developing, the band set out to record a self-funded debut. With recording and CD production costs still being high at this moment in time, the band were mentored by record producer, musician and WOMEX founder Ben Mandelson. The band applied to the Jewish Music Institute's Millennium Award Fund and received a grant to record and produce their first album, which was recorded at Livingstone Studio Wood Green and produced and engineered by Josh Breslaw 'and Lemez Lovas. "Digital Folklore". Some of the tracks on the album were later abridged and re-recorded for Laughter Through Tears, one example is the Hungarian folk song "A Csitari" whose vocals were performed by a female singer on the new album. The response to the album served to not only galvanise their following around the new release but was also nominated for a BBC World Music Award, went on to see them perform a showcase at Womex in Essen and then sign to Outcaste Records.

Laughter Through Tears 2003 - 2005[edit]

OI VA VOI 2006 - 2008[edit]

Travelling The Face Of The Globe 2009 - 2012[edit]

Live Band 2012-2016[edit]

Current band members[edit]


Former band members[edit]

Associated acts[edit]




  • "7 Brothers" (2003)
  • "Refugee" (2004)
  • "Yesterday's Mistakes" (2004)
  • "Yuri" (2007)
  • "Every Time" (2009)


  • Oi Va Voi won an Edison award for Album of the Year 2004 Netherlands
  • Oi Va Voi was nominated for the BBC Awards for World Music 2003 in the Boundary Crossing category.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]