For the past six months Mikey Pauker has been working long and hard tracking vocals, writing songs, rewriting songs and taking small breaks for regional tours only to return to the same in depth recording process. After finishing the recording process, mixing was next in line, for Mikey this process changed the game for his next album. While suffering through the most challenging project he has ever taken on Mikey is now ready to share his work of art with the world. Mikey has a worldly view that is unlike any other. Metaphorically seeing his audience as a forest he is the “Lorax who speaks to the trees,” living to share his music and inspire the masses.
Mikey Pauker recently launched his video for Hinei Mah Tov (Eeoohh!) on ArtistDirect.com, Oh wait I don’t think I mentioned Mikey is transforming the boundaries of Jewish music, if you are not interested yet you should be. Describing the meaning of ancient text and transforming that into a well thought out and evolutionary piece of art, while simply educating the “trees” Mikey is an up incoming artist you do not want to miss. TSI had the pleasure to catch Mikey while on tour and sit him down for a personal in depth interview, revealing the juicy and inspiring.
TSI: Tell me about your background? Where did you come up with the idea to modernize ancient Jewish text?
MP: I grew up Laguna Niguel, California raised in a secular Jewish family. I have been writing and producing tracks since I was in grade school. It wasn’t until early summer in 2009 that I was introduced to an entire community renewing ancient liturgic text, and mysticim. I was hired as a “song leader” (Jewish educator who teaches Jewish music) at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa and sent to a conference called Hava Nashira in Oconomowoc Wisconson to prepare for my summer experience. There, I had the ability of meeting and learning from Debbie Friedman who was one of the innovators taking ancient text and writing the music to folk. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was also one of the innovators of this type of song writing. Soon many more artists followed including Jeff Klepper, Julie Silver, Dan Nichols, Rick Recht, & even Matisyahu. To be honest there are communities all over the world partaking in this style of song writing. Many of these artists create this music as educational lessons to teach our values and stories to our children, family’s and next generation. The major difference that I bring to the table is that I am creating this music for the entire world to benefit from including the Jewish people, so the production value is top notch.
TSI: How do you feel ancient Jewish text would be relevant to the entire world, including other religion?
MP: Torah (the old testament) is studied in Christianity, Catholosizm, and a beautiful piece of literature appreciated by people all over the world. Many of my songs are taken from Chassidis, Kabbalah, Torah, Psalms, and Jewish experiences. Gratitude, love, and unity are all common themes in my new album and they certainly are universal in all faith. It’s funny, Mumford and Sons they base their music off what has been rumored being “The New Testament” and even have written songs based of Shakespeare’s poems. If they can headline Coachella and write from ancient text, then that creates a space for many more artists to share their interpretations of ancient text. The trick is making the message modern and not sounding like an outdated Disney character.
TSI: Are there plans for collaboration with the rest of the Joy Machine?
MP: The JoyMachine was originally a writing collaboration between Elizabeth “Joy” Guilliams and myself. We then added a few other band mates including Jared Stein, Jacob Sheehan, and David Resnick. The JoyMachine became the band backing me up during live performances. Mikey Pauker & The JoyMachine recorded the original version of Hinei Mah Tov a couple of years ago. However, due to visionary and writing differences I chose to drop The JoyMachine and be called “Mikey Pauker.” Members of the JoyMachine will still be included in the live band. I retracked “Hinei Mah Tov (Eeoohh!) with producer Brian Judah from the Bravo network series Platinum Hit. Brian and I have a handful of other songs we are cooking up. In the meantime I am also being produced by Diwon (Matisyahu, Y Love, Bonhom) and we are releasing my full-length record in late spring. Diwon is a DJ who is known for mixing in world, hip-hop and electronic music and he will be sampling electronic beats while I play live. The new album has been described as a cross between The XX and Imagine Dragons.
TSI: With your recent debut in 2010, how do you feel your music has been proceeded by the Jewish community, and what do you plan to do in order to draw in a broader crowd?
MP: Well you will have to listen to my upcoming album to see what I’m doing. These songs are created for anyone and everyone to connect to. You may be finding yourself learning some Hebrew at the same time.
TSI: What can we expect to see out of Mikey Pauker after the modernization is complete?
MP: Hmm… expect the unexpected. I’m not following a guidebook here. I have created an album that is breaking the boundaries of modern spiritual music.
VIDEO: Hinei Mah Tov (Eeoohh!)
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