Check out Perfect For: Michael Franti (curated by Michael Franti himself) on iHeartRadio
Michael Franti is back with his eighth studio album with Spearhead, All People, and he's feeling better than ever. "This is the biggest thrill I've ever had," the singer/songwriter tells iHeartRadio of the record's release. "I'm not even fudging at all. I spent most of two years making this record, so I waited until every song was just exactly to its full fruition."
"I wanted something that felt upbeat and summery and fun," Michael says, "And it's sort of indicative of the whole record: it's part dance beat, it's part acoustic guitar, and it's also a statement about life. This record is called All People, and it's all about the power and beauty of diversity. Everybody’s different, but we're all the same. We've all got a heart, we've all got a mind, and we all deserve to be treated not only with respect, but to appreciate the difference and the beauty that all of us have."
Michael Franti stopped by the iHeartRadio Headquarters in NYC recently, where he opened about the new album, curated his own iHeartRadio station and also gave us some insight into another artform he's passionate about: the ink on his body. Check out Tattoo Stories with Michael Franti below.
On the birds that turn into fish that turn into arrows he has tattoed from his elbows to the tips of his pinky fingers:
"The birds on my forearm go up into my hands and they turn into fish, and then into little arrows that go up. It's a prayer from Tahiti. In Tahiti, the birds live up in the trees, and in the morning they go out into the water. The fisherman watch from the shore and see where the birds are diving into the water to get fish, which angle they're going in, how long they stay in the water... and then from all that, the fishermen are able to tell which direction to approach in their boats to not scare the fish, and how deep to cast their nets. So if you watch the signs in your life, you will get what you need - you’ll get your bounty. Be observant and be still at times."
On the near-mirror-image hummingbirds he has tattooed on the inside of his forearms:
"My favorite is the most recent tattoo I have – these are hummingbirds," Franti says, showing off the birds that occupy the inside of his forearms. "That's me (below, left), and that's Sara (below, right). She’s much sexier than me. When we first officially got together, we were at this place that was like a little hummingbird sanctuary. It's in L.A. actually, in the middle of the city, but they just planted a whole bunch of trees that hummingbirds love the nectar on. When you're sitting in this little garden, little hummingbirds come around all the time... We've been friends for 3 and a half years, and then we graduated into being lovers."
On the message he has scripted on his left arm:
"This is another favorite one of mine. It says, 'Today I Pray For ______.' I write it in everyday, or Sara writes it in, or I meet a fan going through something and I'll write it in on my arm."
Michael got his first tattoo in New Zealand in the early 90s, and he probably hasn't gotten his last. "One thing about tattoos is that I feel like really, you only have one tattoo. Some people go into the store and they’re like, 'I’ll have the number 937,' you know - a Mickey Mouse smokin' a joint and holding a 40. But I think instead of having a whole bunch of things like a NASCAR jacket – it should be one thing. Everything I do is symmetrical."
Like his tattoos, Michael Franti's music is inspired by the experiences and people in his life that have helped shape him as an artist and a person. The new album, All People, is no different.
"Before, I used to write songs that were about the 24-hour news cycle, political things that are happening in the world," he says. "But today, I'm more inspired by the 24-hours of the day: how do people get through their day? It’s a difficult world to live in, and I want to write songs that inspire that. My biggest inspiration is over there, Sara. She's my better half and she's amazing. She's an emergency room nurse and jewelry designer, so she’s got this great balance of creativity and artistry and also serving others and being in crisis situations and being able to keep her cool. She inspires me everyday and we're a great team. We love being in love and in life together, so she inspired a lot of the songs in there, [like] 'I'm Alive' and 'Life Is Better With You. Yeah, she’s been a big inspiration."
While at iHeartRadio, Michael also sat down to play guest DJ and curate a radio station that's Perfect For him. His eclectic picks range from Kendrick Lamar to Radiohead to Donna Summer to Led Zeppelin. CLICK HERE to check out Perfect For: Michael Franti only on iHeartRadio.
Photos by Shelby Case