Yossi Sassi

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Yossi Sassi
Yossi Sassi and the Bouzoukitara
Yossi and the Bouzoukitara
Background information
Born (1975-02-05) 5 February 1975 (age 41)
Genres Eclectic Rock, Oriental Rock, progressive rock/metal
Occupation(s) Musician, Producer, Composer
Instruments Guitar, Bouzouki, Bouzoukitara, Saz, Oud, Chumbush, Charrango etc, in total about 17 different string instruments
Years active 1991–present
Associated acts Orphaned Land, Yossi Sassi band, Marty Friedman
Website yossisassi.com
Sassi in Brazil

Yossi Sassi[1] (Hebrew: יוסי סאסי ,born February 5, 1975) is a guitarist and[2] producer who merges traditional and contemporary music. He is the inventor of the Bouzoukitara.[3] He is known for pioneering & evolving Oriental Prog-Rock, as well as the main composer, arranger and co-founder of Orphaned Land, an Israeli progressive metal band formed in 1991, and founder of 'Yossi Sassi band'. In 2012, Sassi released his debut album 'Melting Clocks',[4] an album that got him voted for 'Top Newcomer of 2012' by 'Rock Hard' magazine readers[5] for his solo work.

Early years[edit]

Sassi grew up in Petah Tikva, Israel. His father was a firefighter who enjoyed singing, and his mother Tamara a housewife. Sassi's father, David, comes from a family of 10 brothers and sisters, all of whom play an instrument, sing, or do both. His grandfather and namesake, Yossef Sassi, played the Oud and chanted traditional religious songs. At age 7 Sassi learned to play the flute, and later sang in the school choir, and his interest in music grew when he encountered the guitar around the age of 14 during a visit to his uncle. Sassi borrowed the guitar, took some lessons from guitar teachers, but eventually decided to teach himself, practicing for 8 to 10 hours per day for years. Sassi dropped out of high school at age 17 to focus on his band Orphaned Land, combining Middle Eastern elements with metal music.[6]


Sassi playing the Bouzoukitara

Yossi Sassi blends East with West, Rock with World music, melodic tunes with progressive passages, and traditional folk instruments with electric riffs. Sassi, signed to Warner Music/Verycords, has over 20 years of experience as a producer, composer-arranger and founding member of Orphaned Land.[7]

Yossi plays 17 different types of guitars and traditional instruments, and has been invited to play live and share the stage with artists such as Metallica, Marty Friedman, Steven Wilson, Yehuda Poliker, and others.[citation needed][8][9]

Yossi Sassi is a first level endorsing artist of PRS Guitars, Engl Amps, Elixir Strings, and Electro-Harmonix.

Yossi Sassi has cooperated and recorded with artists from Kuwait to Portugal. He has hundreds of global shows and major festivals under his belt, including approximately 100 shows in 30 countries performed in 2010.

Orphaned Land[edit]

Unusual for a band from Israel, Orphaned Land[10] has built a following among Muslims and Arabs.

Founded in 1991, the band released their debut album "The Beloved's Cry" in 1992. The band was signed by Holy Records and "Sahara" (1994) and "El Norra Alila" (1996) were well received by reviewers. Later the band signed with Century Media USA and released "Mabool" in 2004, garnering over 250,000 copies in sales.

The band's 2010 release, entitled "The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR", got recommended by Kirk Hammett of Metallica in Metal Hammer magazine.

On January 6, 2014, Sassi released an official statement[11] in which he announced his decision to part ways with his life work in "Orphaned Land", due to various reasons, and focus on 'new dreams' and 'creative, innovative, authentic music that unites people'.

Solo career[edit]

Since 2011, Yossi Sassi founded his own solo group, with musicians from various genres, including Ben Azar on Guitars (Jazz/Fusion guitarist), Shay Ifrah on Drums and Or Lubianiker (Project R'n'L, Marty Friedman) on bass guitar. In his solo work, Sassi merges rock with traditional folk music, blending instrumental pieces with melodic vocals. Yossi's debut release as a solo artist was titled "Melting Clocks".[12][13]

His solo work featuring musicians such as ex-Megadeth member Marty Friedman,[14] this album incorporates traditional instruments such as Saz, Bouzouki, Oud, Chumbush and others.[15]

In January 2014 Sassi announced he's working on a new album,[16] that will be titled 'Desert Butterflies', a conceptual piece, rich and diverse, continuing where he left off with his debut solo release, 'Melting Clocks', and the 'oriental rock' genre he's been pioneering and redefining. It includes musical collaborations with Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (Guns N' Roses), Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth), Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania), and more. 'Desert Butterflies' was released in May 2014[17] worldwide, and welcomed with great reviews from leading industry magazines ('Truly progressive, truly original, demolishing boundaries..'[18]- Prog Magazine's Rich Wilson). The 3rd album, 'Roots and Roads', was released on May 25, 2016,[19] receiving great reviews[20] from the media.

Creative process[edit]

Sassi composes intuitively, seeing music as "layers". His compositions and arrangements account for parts of the orchestration such as rhythmic patterns, melodies, and harmonies. Sassi prefers to compose the song in its entirety, from drums to vocal arrangements, although he has done arrangements for other artists such as Diana Golbi.[21][citation needed]

Sassi prefers to compose while playing acoustic instruments, mainly his nylon-string or acoustic guitars. He has also composed songs while playing the bouzouki, Oud, Saz, Cumbush etc., and later arranged for modern instruments. Sassi admitted that this is his "secret" formula for the unique sound of Orphaned Land's metal music.[22]

Sassi is influenced by American guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, Turkish multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek and the world-music duo Dead Can Dance.[23]

Shows and touring[edit]

Sassi has performed hundreds of global shows and festivals worldwide. He has been quoted saying that his opening show for "Metallica" was one of the top moments in his career, together with his "Guitar Universe Tour" alongside his friend, ex-Megadeth guitarist, Marty Friedman. The "Guitar Universe Tour" is a "G3"-like tour of guitarists from around the world giving their own interpretation to the guitar (Middle Eastern, Japanese etc.).


In 2011, Sassi decided to create an instrument that would later become an "embodiment of his musical journey". What first began as seeking an efficient way to switch between his acoustic Greek Bouzouki to his electric guitar gave birth to the "Bouzoukitara" - a unique instrument that combines a traditional acoustic Bouzouki with an electric solid-body guitar.[24] Together with luthier Benjamin Millar he was able to transform his idea and design into reality. The double-neck instrument has a shared surface, so when one guitar is played it resonates to the open strings of the other guitar, thus it allows Sassi to produce some unique sound layers, for example when playing the electric guitar while recording the Bouzouki going through a pre-amp or overdrive, capturing the over-tones it generates. In the summer of 2013 Sassi announced he had begun working on Mark II of his design, to be completed in early 2014.[25]


Alongside his successful musical career, multiple peace awards, etc., Yossi Sassi is a former employee of Microsoft and other organizations, who one day decided to fulfill his musical calling. He now pursues music production of his oriental rock music.[26] Today he travels the world to share his knowledge, life, and professional experiences.

Yossi Sassi believes in the power of music to bring people together by bridging cultural differences and national strife. During his career he has witnessed how music influences people in unusual ways. Yossi Sassi has a large Muslim following in the Arab world that appreciates his ability to produce and create authentic and respectful oriental music in spite of personal perils they might be exposed to in their homelands.[27]

External links[edit]