Yonatan Gat Starts Over with Traditional Native American Music

Yonatan Gat is known for his worldly guitar and captivating performances. When playing fast and scattered punk riffs with his trio, the group would spend the entire set on the floor in the middle of the audience.

It’s harder to fit his band on the floor these days. Gat has joined forces with the traditional Native American powwow group the Eastern Medicine Singers. But the other-worldly sound they create together as an eight-piece is like nothing else.

Gat and the Eastern Medicine Singers have made music together since meeting at SXSW in 2017. The collaboration woke Gat up to a new way of thinking about performance and the role of music in our day to day lives.

“Music-making is a part of their social life,” he says. “The difference between them and your dad and his friends socializing around a poker table is they’re actually making sublime, highly religious, deep music together and that inspired me beyond belief.”

Gat’s 2018 album Universalists teased a collaboration with the Eastern Medicine Singers with its second-longest song, “Medicine,” which featured the traditional chants of the Eastern Medicine Singers. The hypnotic power of the Eastern Medicine Singers shines through in the track, pairing perfectly with Gat’s wild punk guitar improvisation.

Yonatan Gat ft. the Eastern Medicine Singers, “Medicine”

Gat’s next album is a complete collaboration with the Eastern Medicine Singers, so expect lots more music like “Medicine.”

Gat says the new music is a crux of different cultures mixed into music, but not in a “fusion-y/world music” kind of way.

“It just sounds like a collision of human beings with different musical outlooks that are able to do something together in a communal language,” Gat says. He believes the traditional Native American music the Eastern Medicine singers play is where it all started for music in the U.S. “[It’s] where American music begins, which has a significant influence on rock and roll and on minimalism and even jazz and styles that are from here—so, in a way, we’re kind of bringing it back to the source,” he said

Gat plans to release the album this year but hasn’t yet set a release date. In the meantime, listen to the entire interview with Yonatan Gat and Universalists on this week’s The Music Meetup.