Lots of love for Mullum Music Fest
Meet Mike Love, everyone’s favourite conscious roots-reggae artist. Born and raised on the island of O’ahu in Hawai’i, Love is inspired by the natural landscape of his island home. Spiritually grounded in nature and artistically inspired by his composer father and grandfather, Mike’s musical instincts were shaped almost before he could speak.
On your first solo release, the critically acclaimed The Change I’m Seeking, you included songs with some real messages about some of the big issues of our time.
Yup. I feel like there is so much happening in the world, so many things that people need to be passionate about. I feel blessed to be a part of a global collective of musicians, activists and artists with a similar intention. I feel like we all do our part and are all calling attention to things we feel passionately drawn to. Working together, we paint a bigger and broader picture, and support each other and our communities in turn.
These are obviously ideas you were feeling for many years. Did you have a plan to draw these bigger issues into your music? Or did it happen spontaneously all of a sudden one day?
It was a natural, organic growth. The more I made music that had a purpose, that meant something, the more people listened, and the more it inspired and continues to inspire me to do more. In the end, we are only just vessels for the most powerful and inspiring messages. To interpret them so eloquently and perfectly I don’t think is a capability we have without the guidance of a higher power channeled through our spirits. My path has been laid out for me, and music has been its main guiding and driving force. Sometimes I feel as if I’m powerless to affect the outcome, and I just go where it takes me. It’s been a long and arduous journey, but I’ve seen so much healing and reconnection along the way.
Your song Earthlings makes your stance very clear. What does veganism mean to you?
The main reason I’m vegan is, first and foremost, because I stand against the inhumane torture and murder of innocent creatures. I feel that if we have the option to avoid killing why would we not? The only answers to that question involve pure selfishness and ignorance. The beautiful by-products of this stance as well are a massively decreased impact on our environment and better personal health. So, being vegan is more than just a dietary choice for most; it’s a lifestyle choice, fuelled by compassion, empathy and foresight.
There is a growing international movement towards veganism. What do you think is driving that?
I think naturally people are waking up to the things I talked about. People are talking, more and more, globally. One of the greatest things about the internet is that people have the ability to share their views worldwide. We no longer are confined to receiving news and policy from governmental sources, and thus things like the truth about the animal agriculture industry and its barbaric practices and ecologically devastating effects are much harder to suppress. People are speaking the truth and, given the state of things, are more than ready to listen and start doing something about it!
Are your instruments vegan? I’m thinking in particular of drum skins etc?
Well, the only drum that Sam uses that would traditionally be skinned with animal hide are his bongos, but he uses synthetic heads as he is also vegan. I use only vinyl guitar straps and synthetic nut and saddle materials on my guitars, and even the inlays I’ve had done don’t use abalone. Being vegan makes you also consider materials used in the making of your clothes and everything you use. I know we could get into the human rights of everything we use as well, as so many products are created overseas using child labour, or unfair labour with little to no wages. I try my best to buy local and know where the things I use come from, and it’s a very slippery slope. One of the major powers we have in this economic world is how we spend our money. The only way corporate empires succeed is if we keep funding them.
You’ve been known to say that music has a healing power that comes from a higher place. Can you tell us more about what you mean by this?
It’s something anyone can open themselves up to. It can be incredibly hard to push your ego to the side and just let something come through for the sake of everyone, and even harder to avoid the temptation to take credit for it afterwards, but if you can succeed at that, and be a part of something so pure, the effects are astounding. The feeling of connection, togetherness, and unconditional love at our shows is something to behold. I feel blessed to be a part of it and bear witness to it. It’s not something I ever envisioned or imagined, but I’m so grateful for it.
You’ve recently formed a ‘super group’ comprising handpicked musicians from your band’s different manifestations. What prompted this move?
It was yet another organically grown organism. I came from a place where I was the head of a ten-piece band, and it just got to be too much. It was a great family, but it just wasn’t working right musically. I stripped it all away and started from scratch, playing solo for a couple of years. It was something I had never thought of, but at the urging of my wife I tried it and realised it was just what I needed. It was a crucial realisation for me that, for a song to really work, it has to work on every level, totally stripped down or totally arranged and orchestrated. From there I slowly rebuilt a band using complex criteria I had developed over many years of working with many different kinds of musicians. The thing that makes my band work so well now is that we inspire each other spiritually and energetically as much as we do musically. I call this band The Full Circle because of these many meanings.
Where are you looking to go with this new incarnation of your band?
The beautiful thing about it is that it’s always going somewhere on its own! With every note we become closer and our hearts, rhythms, and melodies intertwine. Being in a band, a real band, is like that. You become one heart, one mind, and the communication becomes telepathic. It’s the best, such an incredible feeling. I see no limit to where this band can go.
You’re coming up to play the Mullum Music Festival. What can your northern NSW fans up here expect from your gig?
This music is ever changing. Every show is different, especially because we depend so heavily on the connection and the energy of the crowd. We’ll be playing some new stuff and, of course, some of the tunes our fans are expecting to hear. The last time we were in the Shire it was out of this world and I know you guys won’t disappoint me this time either!
Mike Love will be performing in a duo format at the Mullumbimby Music Festival, 15–18 November. For tickets and program information go to mullummusicfestival.com.