Friday, 19 April 2013

Michele Ari Q&A

Your name:
Michele Ari  

Where are you from?
Currently I am in Portland, Oregon via NYC and Nashville as of late but I have been around.

Name of band:
People I meet inevitably ask “What's the name of your band?” so I tell them: “Michele Ari. “Yes, I know your name” they say “but what's the name of your band?” Abbott and Costello would be so proud of me.  

Who else is in your band?
My line ups vary depending on the city I am in and what I am wanting to accomplish at that time. I have been on the longest audition process/live gig hiatus of my career since I moved to Portland and got myself settled in.  I have chosen at this time to take a longer term look at whether or not someone is a right fit and while it pains me to go this long without performing I feel that in the long run it will be well worth the wait.  I have a lot of drive and so even if a player is technically and artistically right there are still other factors that have to be considered for it to really work. I've had great and loyal players and I've also done my “Hey you! Let's go get a gig” with people I didn't know couldn't be trusted until it was too late. How I did things was right for that time as I built a career out of it. But with  three records, gigs, tours etc under my belt I've earned at least one star or braid and so can afford to step back and make future plans.  I've had an amazing ten years and so it is onto the next ten and the next and so on until people complain I am too old and should shut up and go home.  Then I will show them Madonna doing cartwheels at 50 , Debbie Harry still looking and sounding sharp in a mini-skirt at 68 Bowie taking over the world again at however old he is and tell them to bugger off as you say.  

How would you describe yourself?
Since Day One I have been categorized into new wave, punk, indie and mod genres and I am totally fine with that as it is accurate. But, I also like the word “Primitif” which I've borrowed from the French art movement of the same name. It means “raw,” “naked,” “uncivilized, “and with “no apologies.” I liked the word so much that I've sometimes billed as “Michele Ari and the Primitifs” and have written an entire philosophy, if you will,  about this which people can read at

Who are your main influences musically?
Life and the human condition are my main influences. Aesthetically I  draw from late 70s and early 80s new wave, punk, post-punk, mod, indie and alternative in the main though you will find other bits and pieces from here and there. Ultimately everything is based in rock, jazz, blues so there's no shortage of places to turn for a pep talk. Artistically, however, I'm inspired by people who have their own original thoughts and who have something intelligent to say in a clever way like Elvis Costello, Roxy Music and The Psychedelic Furs for example. I do get a ton of Blondie comparisons and I'm flattered by them.  

What do you hope to achieve in music?
To reach people, to touch them, to relate to them and feel connected but mostly to entertain them. If I do it well enough and reach enough people  willing to also spend money to support me so as to ensure my existence then I will be very, very satisfied. On a broader level I would like us all to get away from this “music should be free”  fantasy because it's not true and it's destructive in part because it takes away and artists' freedom of choice. It's OK to give things away but not because you are being made to. It's also impractical as it takes resources to do this and to do it right. There is no music industry any more that I can see. We are the industry which is why I am on Patronism as it's a type of crowd sourcing. But I think we all have a social responsibility to insist that artists survive because art and aesthetics are good for everyone. This has been true historically and we should not mess with something that defines and uplifts the human spirit like no other thing can. No one but “Corporations Are People Too” wants a Rooms To Go World which is what we will get if we are not careful. The short term satisfaction of free and cheap music has devastating long-term implications. On my website I link to some people and groups who are working really hard to protect artists' rights. And then for me personally I always want to be a better songwriter, performer, band leader and business woman as I need to be all of this and more to be successful.

What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
That I have endured. No matter what I am still here. I have not changed  or compromised who I am, what I do and how I do it to please anyone. That often means being lonely, less popular to some or having to add time as a factor because I am holding out until something or some situation is right for me or I am having to get clever creating a right situation out of whole cloth where none exists at all. I came into music at a very exciting time when we were given new freedoms as artists via the internet, specifically MySpace. But then I watched as the greedy capitalized on this and even in my disgust and dismay I endure and find my own ways of doing things that I feel good about. I don't like people making it harder but that's the game we have and I do choose to play it for better or worse. The best part is that I  do connect with  press, fans and friends who are like-minded. Its not a closed circle. People are welcome to join us.

And what’s the moment you want to forget?
I can't forget any of them because even the most hellish of times (which always stemmed from being associated with the most hellish of people) have ultimately gone in my favor even if it took a while to recover from a blow to the head.  If you stay home and do nothing life goes “perfectly” which is dull. If you get out and do things you will get smacked around as sure as the sun rises and sets. I've got some bruises but I'm tough and persistent and get a sort of sick joy out of turning a total “lose” into “Whoa I just kicked some ass!” I've had some very funny and cool things happen just after someone told me  I was a terrible person or dropped the ball resulting in a problem for me to solve. If I were Adele, when I won that first Grammy, I would have said “Ha! See what you missed?” and dedicated that, all my money, my very big mansion and fabulous new boyfriend to the guy who broke my heart as that is how you take a sad song and make it better- you go and you get some successes or as REM sings “Living well is the best revenge.” I'm not seeking revenge but I don't see anything wrong with doing very well in life and see it as the most right thing to do in any circumstance especially when you can't come up with anything better. 

If you could choose just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
I was on my way to do some songwriting on one of those “I'm drawing a blank” days. It was pouring rain and on the side of the highway, underneath an overpass, a motorcyclist was taking cover. My side of the overpass was raining but the other side was suddenly sunny and beautiful with rainbows (no unicorns, sorry.) And out came the opening line “How is it the sun can shine when the rain comes pouring down?” and I knew I had my song “My Sleeping Beauty.” It became the opener on my debut “85th and Nowhere” and has not been left out of single live set since it was written. It sums up probably the most common theme found in my music wherein I often write about life's biggest contradiction: that though there is good in life some will work to make it bad, some run from it, some don't even believe it exists and yet it is there if you look and it is there for the taking. I'm the kind of person who looks and sees it and can compare it to its opposite in a poetic way. I think because that is the truth of things, that there is “good” and things worth doing and having, people relate. People like the truth or things that at least could be, you know, “hope.” People don't really like cliched, machinery driven pop about things that don't really matter. They only listen to it because they don't know anything else exists and that they have a choice. They get brainwashed into this stuff and get these ideas about life that its all “bootys,” tits and the shopping mall or whatever. Those things are phoney. All of my music represents the total opposite of that empty nonsense without being so deep you feel you should be donning an ascot and puffing on a tobacco pipe. My music can also be fun, poking fun at me, you, the other guy all with love because people are kinda funny sometimes.
“My Sleeping Beauty” by the way won a very big recognition in the UK and still gets air play eight years after its release. 

Where can we listen to it?
All of my music is on my website at under the Music Store tab.  

Where can we find out more about your music?

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