Maranda Pleasant: So, I am so excited to talk to you. What is it that inspires you the most? What is at the heart of your art and why you create?
Michael Franti: Well, I have a passion to make a difference in the world. And that difference can be just making the fans at my show leave with a smile on their face and feeling uplifted when they go away. And on a larger level, I want to promote positivity. I believe that through positive thoughts and through positive speech, action, words, and attitudes, we change things for the better.
MP: What is the most vulnerable part of what you do?
MF: Well, the hardest part about what I do, the most vulnerable place is my relationship with my family and Sara, my amazing partner, because I’m leaving a lot. And as a touring artist, I’m constantly coming and going, but also when I’m at home, my studio’s at home. I’m leaving to go into a music world in my head. (laughs) That’s the most difficult part for me is feeling connected to the people that I love but always being on the go to different places.
MP: Do you feel pulled between being a father and a partner and an artist, like your career and your personal life? I know that struggle myself, so how do you balance that?
MF: Well, it’s tricky. There’s sometimes when I feel really balanced, and there’s other times when I feel like I’m trying to keep juggling too many balls in the air, and I feel like I’m on the edge of dropping all of them and having them all land on my head, you know? Scheduling is a big part of it, and the other is just remaining flexible and keeping a sense of humor about things. Knowing that there are some days when I’ve got to take a break from the studio, go grab my baseball glove, and go play catch with my son, or we’re all just going to take a night off tonight and go see a movie or something. At the end of the day, I feel like unless those personal relationships are being served, all the other things in life, business or art, they all suffer anyway. So having personal things in balance is more important than the other.
MP: Well said. How do you deal with your pain when it comes in? Any kind of pain.
MF: Well, I cry. Last night, I was just in bed with Sara, and we realized after looking through the calendar that we’re not gonna see each other for a couple weeks. (laughs) That’s unusual for us, and I had kind of a rough week and had a busy week, and she had too, and I started to cry. And she’s like, “Why are you crying?” There really wasn’t one particular thing I was hurting about; I was just feeling overwhelmed, you know? Kind of feeling low and, “God, I’m gonna miss you so much.”
MF: And when there’s other, more long term things, I write about them, and I put them into my songs. I always know when a song is good or almost finished or close to finished. When I sing it, it makes me feel the emotion; I’ll start singing a song, and my tears will start flowing, listening to my own voice, or I’ll start laughing, or I’ll start feeling whatever intensity or emotion was the seed of that song.
MP: Thank you for just getting really real. That was beautiful. And your Do it for the Love! Tour. What a great name. When I think of Michael Franti, at the core of your music, and we go to your concerts that are so full of life and energy, everybody just feels love. And that’s why it’s such a unique experience to even see you play.
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