American-Israeli Couple-Turned-YouTube Sensation Talks About Taking Their Living Room to the Stage (VIDEO)
A young American-Israeli couple, who have attracted a massive following on Facebook for their home-made music videos, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that they have been blown away by their new-found popularity.
“It kind of just exploded,” said Yoni Tokayer, the husband of the duo. “Things happened a lot faster than we thought they would.”
His wife, Nina, said they are “incredibly” surprised by the amount of attention their videos are receiving on Facebook. “A few months ago, when we first started this, I told Yoni that if we keep doing this every week and we really work hard, maybe by September we’ll reach 5,000 ‘likes.’ And we reached 55,000 the other day. It was really, really special. And it’s only been half a year.”
The Tokayers, who live in Tel Aviv, call their duo “Yonina” — a combination of their first names. Every week, on Thursday night or Friday morning, they post their latest videos, in which they sing covers and original songs, to their Facebook page, which now has some 70,000 “likes.” The clips are often recorded in their car or home, and sometimes feature their four-month-old baby.
Yonina’s duets, which are occasionally dedicated to special individuals or causes — examples include the IDF and 13-year-old terror victim Hallel Yaffa Ariel — have included such renditions as Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
In their latest video, posted on Facebook on July 28, Yonina sings an acapella version of Matisyahu’s “One Day,” which envisions a world without war. The husband and wife, who are also working on an album, said they chose the song because the days preceding the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av serve as “an opportunity to dream of the kind of world we want to live in, and try to build it together.” The video attracted over 29,000 “likes” on Facebook and was shared more than 15,000 times.
“A lot of times we don’t know what the song is going to be until the day we prepare it,” said Nina. “It really depends on the mood that we’re in, what’s going on, what’s on our mind or something we feel about something that’s happened.”
Nina said both she and her husband have been singing “ever since we can remember. Music is a big part of our lives as individuals and once we met, it was only natural for us to sing together.”
“When we met, we started playing together, and after we got married, we thought it would be nice to post videos on Fridays,” Yoni said. “We didn’t think it was gonna get so big; we just thought it would be a nice thing to do.”
Yonina is now booking concerts across Israel. Their first, on Sept. 1 — which has already sold out — is titled, “Leaving the Living Room.”
“We’ve very excited, but we’re used to playing in our living room, so it’s going to be different sitting on a stage together,” said Yoni. “We’re hoping to make the whole vibe kind of like we’re all sitting together in a living room. We’re even thinking about sitting on a couch on stage.”
Watch Yonina’s rendition of “One Day” below: