Folk. Electronica. Reggae. Hip-Hop. Yoga. And God. For Mikey Pauker, it was only natural to share his divine experiences through music. The California born and bred musician is touring the globe in celebration of his full length album that recently hit stores.
The album, entitled “Extraordinary Love,” brings together elements of other artists such as Bon Iver, the XX, Trevor Hall, The Civil Wars, and Imagine Dragons to create a fusion that’s both bumping and exalting. The album’s title track jumps right in with Pauker singing, “You’re powerful, extraordinary love.” It’s a theme that returns with songs like the dreamy “Top of the World” and the reggae-enfaced “Plenty of Love,” which features Jamaican dancehall artist Tj Di Hitmaker and Israeli-expat artist Lior Ben-Hur.
I had the chance to interview Mikey Pauker between yoga sessions while he was home on a short break from his tour.
Q: How did you start making music? What inspired you then and what inspires you now?
MP: My mom tells me I was tapping on her belly from day 1 that she knew about me. My last name Pauker actually means timpany player, so I was blessed to be born in my body. I have been making music all my life. When I was a baby, I loved Paul Simon Graceland. I still do, but now I’m inspired by the bands that I’ve shared the stage with who have made solid careers out of sharing their divine light through music. Artists like: The Local Natives, Idan Raichel, The Stone Foxes, Kosha Dillz, Matisyahu, Onili, and Trevor Hall.
Q: Who are your biggest influences?
MP: Believe it or not, I grew up listening to spiritual music from other faiths and I didn’t even know it. I loved Christian rock music, but I didn’t even know they were Christian bands. I guess I have always been drawn towards spiritual music, content that goes beyond what we can see. I really feel that when we deeply connect with our intuition and we are able to feel the music deep in our souls. At least, that’s the music I connect to. It goes beyond any band or genre even though I did grow up listening to Reggae, Hip Hop, and Punk.
Q: How do you see Judaism as playing a role in your song writing?
MP: I write my songs based off spiritual Jewish texts from liturgy, chumash, chasidis, and personal mystical experiences. I think there needs to be a more accurate definition of what “Jewish music” is… it’s vague and because of that the genre is blending with others and becoming saturated. For me, Jewish music is based of the kevanah (intention) and or the content of the lyrics. Were they based of spiritual Jewish Text, liturgy, chumash, halacha, mishna??? If not then I really question the term “Jewish music.”
Q: Do you think that an online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?’
MP: Having a powerful online presence is vital to building a strong communities of listeners. Each social network serves as a different modality of exposing your message to countless new communities. I have a website where people can listen, watch videos, read blogs, learn chords to my songs, and interact with me. Your website serves as an interactive resume and hub aggravating your entire digital presence. It’s also very important that artists are conscious with what kind of videos and pictures they put out there for the world to play with. Jewish recording artists need to focus more on putting out songs with top grade audio production and videos that compete with main stream markets.
Q: Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
MP: Yes, at the end of the day, your album is another form of promotion or a really nice business card. I do sell them at my shows, however, if someone can’t afford one or doesn’t have money, I will usually give it to them. I also believe in releasing singles to gain interest in what’s to come. People love free stuff.
Q: What are your other hobbies (besides, obviously, making music)?
MP: Yoga. Yoga.Yoga.Yoga.Yoga.
Q: What’s your most embarrassing experience?
MP: Hmm… I guess you’ll never know..
You could check out when Mikey Pauker is coming to your town and pick up a copy of the Extraordinary Love album at www.mikeypauker.com. Full disclosure: The author of this interview is a paid representative of the subject.