“My name is Noam, I come from Israel. I came to Europe to follow my love for music. I first came to Netherlands to study in the conservatoire, I travelled after my songs wherever they took me. This was my dream as a child. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up I’d say I want to travel the world with my music. I feel lucky that this is happening now because I’m living my dream.
I came to the Netherlands because I was invited to do a study period together with a special internship with the conservatoire orchestra which is from the top five orchestra’s in the world so I couldn’t say no.
When I arrived here my visa wasn’t approved and I lost my internship but I did manage to do the study period with the conservatoire. After passing this year I decided to stay in Europe because I felt I had more identification for the music I create in Europe than back home, especially because I was singing in English. It was a bit frowned upon if you’re Israeli and you’re singing in another language than in Hebrew, so I wanted to experience more with English speaking audience.
I got my first permit five months after arrival, which I had to renew after nine months, but they didn’t actually renew it so I had to go back to Israel for two years.
From home I did an audition for an artist’s agency in Germany and on that basis I was granted an artist visa to Germany. That’s where I currently live.
When I first came to these countries I realised some differences from my home country. Things like food tastes and the weather. Also in Israel I’m considered really tall but in the Netherlands they called me the little one. Apart from that I feel like people are people, so I didn’t really feel a change of concept.
I’m an artist so for me where my art is, my heart is, and as the cliché goes where my heart is, my home is. My current album ‘Love Migration’ is about where you feel at home, where you feel okay with yourself, questions like am I a migrant, am I an expat. I hope to create identification with people through my personal story and humanise migration through my music. It’s not about ‘them’ and ‘us’, we’re all human beings and I try to say that through my songs.
I recently wrote a song called ‘We’ll see each other at the shore’ where I describe a family of refugees crossing the ocean in a boat and all their experiences throughout the journey.
For me to say the difference between an expat and a migrant is difficult. For example when I’m on stage I’m automatically an expat, because I’m viewed as a professional, highly educated, articulate, but when I’m on the bus just wearing a coat people see me as a migrant, wandering if I’m going to steal something or why I’m smiling or looking in a certain way.
Immigration for me is just a story, it’s the story of my life and of many other people’s lives. I’ve been in this story for 30 years now so that’s a long time, and there’s a lot more to come.”
Photo credit: IOM/Amanda Nero