An Interview with Michael Franti
There are lots of new festivals sprouting up all over the world that combine yoga and music, but so far very few artists have made the connection and blended those elements into a tour. As Michael Franti has been pioneering the conscious music scene for many years, has a strong yoga practice, and has been featured headlining many, many yoga & music related events, he’s the perfect person to pioneer such a ground breaking concept!
We caught up with him on his new Soulshine Yoga & Music tour to ask him about what inspired it and where he sees it all going:
Q: Your upcoming summer tour looks epic. What inspired the creation of the SOULSHINE YOGA MUSIC TOUR?
MF: I’ve been practicing yoga for 13 years in order to stay in shape & stay centered while on tour. Each city that I go to I find a different yoga studio to practice at. I started inviting fans to practice yoga with me before our shows. Last year we played at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado & we opened the doors early & invited fans to attend our acoustic set to practice yoga. We had expected just a couple hundred fans but 2,000 showed up! We decided that this year on this tour we would use the same model in ever city.
Q: Why do you feel music and yoga go together so well?
MF: Both yoga & music access the heart. You can hear the opening chords of song by Miles Davis & it might make you cry. Yoga is the same way because it brings up a lot of emotion and it gives us the opportunity to practice being in the moment. Music helps us to forget about the worries of our past & future. It helps us to appreciate where we are.
Q: What is your purpose in creating a tour of this nature and stature? What will a “complete success” look like in your eyes?
MF: The theme of the tour is “music and yoga for all”. We want to create an opportunity for those that have never practiced yoga to get on the mat. There are a lot of preconceived notions of yoga that people struggle with like you’re not skinny enough, flexible enough, yoga is only for girls… We want to create an experience where people feel welcome no matter what size, age, or gender they are.
Ultimately, Soulshine is a kickass rock concert. After yoga, we want people to be ready to let go and lose themselves in the music.
A complete success would mean that people go away form the experience wanting more – wanting to incorporate yoga in their lives & wanting to see yoga & music together again in the future.
Q: I know you often have your hands in a variety of philanthropic causes. What is inspiring you these days and is Soulshine associated with any beneficiaries in any way?
MF: Yes – Soulshine is associated with 2 different non-profits:
One is one that myself & my girlfriend, Sara, founded together called the Do It For The Love Foundation. It is like a ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ for music, — People with advance stages of life threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges, & wounded veterans write in with what concert/musician they would like to see and we make that happen. We partner with musicians to create life-changing experiences for their fans & families.
The other non-profit is the Love Hope Strength organization. They swab people’s mouths at concerts and look for DNA matches for bone marrow transplants. Last year at our Red Rocks show we found 3 matches!
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the other artists on the tour and in general why their styles fit the experience you’re wanting to offer?
MF: All the other artists on the tour are people I’ve known for many years.
Sonna Rele is a new artist out of England who is featured on our new single, “11:59”. She’s an amazing guitarist, pianist, & singer.
I collaborated with Soja on their new single “I Believe”.
I’ve known Brett Dennen forever! It’s been amazing to watch him grow over the years.
I’ve toured with Trevor hall extensively. I love his music!
There will be a lot of artist guest features and collaborations on this tour. Looking forward to it!
Q: With this tour coming up and in your life in general, you seem to travel a lot. How important is your personal yoga practice in your life / on tour? How do you stay inspired to keep up the practice and what is(are) your favorite way(s) to practice yoga while traveling?
MF: It takes its toll to be going in and out of tour buses, airplanes, & hotels, staying out late, & eating restaurant food while on tour. Yoga is my way of reintegrating my body, mind, & spirit. I practice anywhere – a parking lot after a show, at a studio in a city that we’re playing in…I built a yoga retreat center in Bali. It’s my favorite studio to practice in. The yoga studio overlooks the jungle.
Q: Do you like to practice to music, in silence, or both? If music – who do YOU listen to?
I love to practice with music – I usually have a different playlist every time I get on the mat. The songs will suit my mood – Some days I want to rock out and get sweaty & sometimes I listen to records that I’m making just to see how they sound outside of the studio …but when I’m outdoors I love listening to the sounds of nature. I get on the mat & rock out to the sounds of world around me.
Q: Any words of wisdom for yogis and/or artists out there who are looking to carve their own path in the world as you have?
Be your best, serve the greater good, & rock out wherever you are.
What that means to me is (1) never stop challenging yourself or learning new things (2) give back! (3) never lose your youthful enthusiasm for life.
Thanks Michael! Awesome interview… we’re grateful that you are always striving to be your best, serve the greater good and rock out wherever you are 🙂 A fine model to live by indeed.