– Music writer and photographer, Ryan Salm caught up with the rebel rock and feel good artist Michael Franti to speak about his music and the upcoming Wanderlust Festival at Squaw Valley. Here is what he had to say.
RS: Is this life that you are leading something that you always dreamed about or did it just come together like this?
Michael Franti: The life that I am leading now is the culmination of a lot of little dreams wrapped into one. Above being a musician and all the other stuff I do I have always wanted to feel like I have made a difference. At the moment what I am doing with yoga and music makes me feel like I am making a difference. It is a lifelong dream. I have been making music since ’86 over half my life. It is something that even if I am not touring or recording, I will be in the living room or on the porch singing songs with friends. Music is a big part of my everyday life.
RS: I understand that part of your music and overall vibe is to promote peace and love around the globe. Is it working? Do you feel like the more you do this the better it gets or is it an uphill battle?
Michael Franti: Well really, peace and love and understanding are very esoteric principles . My main message is to promote service and to get involved and participate. I hear from people all the time that are getting involved. People are always asking how they can give back. This one woman in Denver said she was so moved by my movie about Iraq that she wanted to find a way to give back to her own community but wondered how a hairdresser could accomplish this. One day a women came into her hair salon who had recently undergone chemotherapy and her hair was falling out. She shaved her head. The woman got a group of hairdressers to work with other chemo patients and find new ways to style their hair. She partnered with a wig company and got wigs donated to other chemo patients. It is amazing to hear that anybody doing anything can give back to their community. It is so inspiring to hear that everyone can find an angle.
RS: Is it difficult to always be this person that is supposed to inspire and teach through music?
Michael Franti: At the center of everything is music. If someone asked me if it was difficult to get up and play music everyday I’d say “it is a dream”. There are times when it is tiring with travel and being away from home, but music keeps you young. It’s a great rejuvenator. I love what I do. Although I work really hard I don’t consider it to be hard work. I feel like I have accepted my roll, but my responsibility as a musician is to make great art. If I can keep making music that gets people singing and dancing they will be open to other ideas that I might present in the music. As I approach a song I think about what’s the best beat, what’s the best melody, what are the best words to say what I mean.
RS: Do you prefer music on the big stage or on the front porch?
Michael Franti: There is a lot of buildup and anticipation when you are about to play a big show like at Bonneroo. It can be exciting but when you are actually doing it and playing it feels the same as playing anywhere. It’s really about creating intimacy and breaking down the walls between the audience and the stage.
RS: How did the idea of playing music to yoga sessions develop?
Michael Franti: It is something I have been doing for a long time. I have been practicing yoga for years now. I feel that music and yoga really go hand in hand and many teachers have been using my music in their classes. So, I started playing in classes with some of the teachers in the Bay Area and am now doing it all around the world. I really enjoy it. When we are practicing yoga the music inspires you to practice deeper. That’s why people like listening to music in the classes. Yoga enables you to do things you never thought you could. One of the aspects of yoga is that we put ourselves into intentionally difficult situations with our bodies and learn how to breathe through them and quiet our minds. In turn when we leave the yoga and go back into the world it helps in dealing with the difficulties as most are not as challenging as doing a forearm balance with your feet in the air. It helps in life to get us more mindful.
RS: Do you practice yoga? Do you intend to join in on any of the non-music activities during the festival?
Michael Franti: Yes, definitely, I practice yoga 6 days on the mat a week. Some of the best teachers in the country are going to be at Wanderlust so I am really looking forward to it.
RS: What is your feeling about playing shows in Lake Tahoe?
Michael Franti: Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Lake, the mountains, the freshness in the air and how it is constantly changing. People who live there are drawn to that and want to be outdoors and want to be connected to nature and want to feel the mountains and feel the gravity. This event is really well suited for that because that is what yoga is all about too. It’s about being connected to the planet and being connected to each other. It’s about wanting to make a difference and stewardship. The Wanderlust Festival is uniquely suited to the Tahoe region.
RS: Any words of wisdom you would like to leave with the people of Lake Tahoe?
Michael Franti: Just be looking for a fantastic weekend. If you want move and be moved come to the Wanderlust Festival.
Wanderlust is 4-days of music and yoga at Squaw Valley: July 28th-31st
For more info on wanderlust including music and yoga schedule and tickets – check out http://squaw.wanderlustfestival.com/home
To check out more of Ryan Salm’s Photography – Check out ryansalmphotography.photoshelter.com/gallery-list
This week in Tahoe area music:
06/23/11 Thursday Groove Session, Drinking With Clowns, Jelly Bread – Knitting Factory, Reno
06/24/11 Friday Brett Dennen, Dawes – Knitting Factory, Reno 8pm 8pm $20-40
The Crystal Method – Montbleu Casino , South Lake Tahoe 9pm $20
06/25/11 Saturday Todd Snider w/ Great American Taxi – Crystal Bay Club 9pm $25-30