Taken from Breathe magazine (March, 2005)
Sitting with Michael Franti
Musician Michael Franti may be the coolest person you haven't heard of yet. And that's by design. The dreadlocked frontman of hip-hop, funk, folk, reggae jam-band Spearhead broke away from a mainstream record deal several years ago and started producing his music on his own indie label, Boo Boo Wax.
Spearhead continues to tour internationally, giving devoted audiences soulful, dance-able shows spiced with politics (and spontaneous conga lines). A socially conscious artist, Franti, who raps that he stands "6-foot-6 above sea level," makes issues catchy: "We can bomb the world to pieces but we can't bomb it into peace," says a cut on his latest album, Everyone Deserves Music (2003). As an activist, Michael has worked for more than a decade to help free imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and since 1999 has produced a "911 Power to the Peaceful" concert each September in Golden Gate Park. Franti recently took a moment to reflect on travel, yoga, and superhero fantasies.
What's your favorite place in the world?
Behind my guitar. It doesn't matter, really, where the location is.
What's the one thing you can't live without?
What album always makes you happy?
Kaya by Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye's I Want You. But they also make me sad, scared-they make me feel really alive.
What movie always makes you cry?
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
What still surprises you about your life?
How little I know.
When you were a kid, what did you imagine you'd be when you grew up?
An NBA basketball player.
What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I look out my window, and me and my five-year-old do a weather report.
What was the first real adult decision you ever made?
I have yet to do that.
What was your most recent great adventure?
Going to Iraq and Israel and Palestine.
What do you do to keep yourself inspired?
Travel. Specifically, I go places outside of my comfort zone.
If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
Treeman. It would be cool to be able to provide shade and fruit and oxygen, and maybe then get chopped down one day and become a guitar for some kid.