"The full colors of emotion from the human rainbow": Michael Franti

American musician, activist and poet Michael Franti answered our questions right before his show in Babylon.

Interview by Cem Kayıran

It’s been more than twenty years since the release of your first record with Spearhead. When you compare those days and today, what’s the biggest difference in your musical approach?

Well every day I try to find something that inspires me that’s new in music constantly changing my style from rapping to singing to playing funk and jazz to electronic and reggae. I think I’m always trying to express the full colors of emotion from the human rainbow.

Throughout your career you made a lot of collaborations with musicians like Dee-Lite, Stephen Marley, Jovanotti and many more. What are the things that you bear in mind before a collaborative work? Also, if you had a chance to pick a musician from the history to collaborate with, who would that be? Why?

Every collaboration comes from a friendship. I never think of a collaboration as a marketing scheme to have a hit record. If I could collaborate with someone in history, my favorite artist would be Bob Marley but I would pro have to wait in line behind thousands of other artists.

When you played here in 2003, lots of musicians were cancelling the shows because of terrorist attacks. Unfortunately this year we witnessed the same thing a lot of times. What does being on the stage and unite with the people through music means to you?

Well, I feel like its more important to have reason to bring people together with the chaos we see in the world, like terrorist attacks, war, economic crisis, the refugee crisis. There are so may things that divide us, so it’s a great honor when people take time out of their busy week to come to my show and I want to put on the best experience for them, from the moment they walk through the door until the time they leave.

Your documentary I Know I’m Not Alone was released ten years ago. Do you have new plans in that area? Is there any topic that motivates you to start a project like that?

I’ve been working on a documentary about 4 people who have inspired my life. None of them are musicians. The first two are a man who is dying of ALS and his wife, then a woman who is a midwife who delivers babies in Indonesia, and, when I met up w her she was in the Philippines after typhoon Yolanda. The other is a surfer in Bali who is working with Indigenous people to replant areas that have been clear-cut using bamboo. He’s created new tech to create hard wood products out of bamboo. The main thing that motivates me is a passion. This new film is really about my belief that the greatest battle we see in the world right now is the battle between optimism and hopelessness and the people in that film are people all make me feel a sense of hope and optimism. When I see ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make a different it makes me believe that myself, or anyone can do the same.