Interview with Alan Michael
The Sopot Festival used to be a celebration for the music lovers. Unlike the contemporary editions, in the past it opened a career door for the rising artists, while at the same time being the most longed-for cultural event for audiences. It was there Polish people could see Alan Michael, a young, spontaneous artist from the Netherlands, who had already won recognition in his own country.
A mixture of a Balkan spirit and a Polish fantasy floating in his veins, spiced with an extraordinary talent conquered right away the hearts of the Polish audience. Today, staying at a secure distance from the music industry, he’s talking about his life in an exclusive interview for Opinia.
It’s over twenty years since you made your first appearance in Poland. What have you been up to since then?
AM: It’s been that long?? It seems like yesterday. I still remember every performance and almost everyone I met there. Needless to say, that period holds a very special place in my heart. Since that time I worked as a recording artist for around six years. I lived in LA, New York, Chicago and Miami for a while and got to work with R-Kelly, TOTO and a lot of other brilliant musicians. Met Oprah (thin Oprah back then) and just had a fantastic time.
However, I found out that I liked writing and producing records more than being an artist. Don’t get me wrong, I loved performing and singing for my audience but the business side of being an artist did not appeal to me anymore. Arrogant record company people, DJ’s, TV presenters, network executives etc. I made a choice not to kiss anyone’s ass (pardon my language) but to do what I loved which always has been making music. I do miss all the beautiful female fans soooo much (sigh).
I set up a new production company called Hawkeye Music Productions and a TV company Hawkeye Media House. I invested a fortune in new artists, made great records, woke up one morning and found that the industry that I knew had disappeared. Downloads destroyed the market, everything had to become cheaper and cheaper and ‚the greatest new stars’ were coming out of Idols. Quality of artists is not what it used to be because we are teaching this generation that it doesn’t really matter if you’re good or not, as long as you get on a show like Idol, popstars and all that crap – ‚you too can become a star’. A true artist, in my opinion, has to at some point of his life be hungry. And the true artist and talent in him pushes him through the tough times and the talent eventually makes it. Not always of course, but the real ones.
I had to make a choice then. Stay in the industry that had changed so much that I didn’t like anymore and become a bitter musician or get out of the industry, keep making music for the love of music and find something else that I could truly enjoy. I chose the second. Now, apart from the TV company, I opened a SPA & beauty center. Not really something you would think of right away right? But at least I get to have all the pretty girls again (laugh). Just kidding (no I’m not). The beauty industry has always been fascinating to me. Artists, actors have always been fighting to stay young as long as possible. We can do that now. Like a new oxygen therapy called ‚Intraceuticals’ that is endorsed by Madonna. Anyway, I love doing this now.
You recorded your first album as a teenager. Did that influence your life?
AM: Well, like all teenage artists it certainly did. I have been in music since I was six though. I think that influenced me even more. You grow up really fast, you lose perspective on everything and when you are at an age where you should be grown up you find that you’re everything except a grown up. In my case the fame was relative but look what it did to Michael Jackson. I met him a few times and was always so sad after that. He will be missed badly.
I am fine though (I hope) and got out in time I guess.
You were very popular in Poland, also your Polish connections seemed to be strong. Why was that?
First of all my mother is Polish so the connection had always been there from the family side. Since I was there myself and found the warmth I was given as an artist the connection only became stronger. Oh, and did I mention that the most beautiful women come from Poland? (laugh)
Unfortunately the entry into Europe, as good as it is for the country eventually, has somehow made the connection and the people colder. I only hope that the heart of the Polish people that I have grown to love, stays in the right place.
Do you still visit Poland?
AM: Unfortunately I have to confess that my last visit was a long time ago. But I have been planning to go back for some time so maybe I’ll be there again soon.
Your Polish fans could see you in Sopot twice and then they stopped hearing from you. Did you quit making your own music?
AM: Like I said I made music for many more years but somehow I did not get back to Poland. I tried very hard but the company I was signed to, SONY was not that interested in the Polish market so instead we toured Europe and they sent me to America.
What kind of music do you feel closest to you?
AM: I listen to a lot of different styles. As a musician I have loved to listen to all the styles and use all of them in creating my own. So from classical to hard rock. My favourites will always be Michael Jackson and David Foster. After them there is a hue void and then there is the rest of us.
What’s your assessment of the direction contemporary music is taking?
AM: I kind of answered that already. I am sad that there is no true talent scouting and old fashioned artist development. What you get is pretty faces that are bombarded to stardom and they are nothing more than a pretty shell without experience, true passion for their art or knowledge of the art in general the shell is sucked dry and spit out as fast as it was glorified only moments earlier. Those poor kids are left in the dark wondering what the hell just happened to them. Of course there will be true talents rising every now and then but I am no fan of the shallow You Tube culture.
What is most important to you as a musician?
AM: Passion, passion, passion. Without it all is pretty much meaningless.
You write both music and lyrics. Which way of expressing yourself do you prefer?
AM: In songs the one can’t exist without the other so it would be hard to choose. But if I had to, it would be the music. Just creating emotions and sonic textures when there was nothing but silence just a moment ago is what will keep fascinating me forever.
What are your plans for the future?
AM: I am building a new company in the beauty industry and going to expand on that. It is great fun to do and a joy to be able to help people achieve their goals without having to cut them open. I am however not the person to plan too far ahead cause tomorrow I could be dead. No one truly knows what time it is in that respect so I enjoy everything as much as I can.
What’s your biggest wish?
AM: My son’s happiness. It’s really simple I know but that’s it. For myself it would be to have passionate, crazy, sometimes irresponsible, endless, blinding love in my life forever. With it it’s like having everything and without it whatever you may have suddenly means nothing…
And a few other thoughts that I try to live by:
‚To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.’
‚Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none.’
‚A good friend will come bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying… „Damn, that was fun!!”‚
‚Always forgive your enemies. Nothing pisses them off more!’
‚If being sane is thinking there’s something wrong with being different… I’d rather be completely fucking mental.’ (Angelina Jolie)
‚If you wanna make a change, start with the man in the mirror!’ thanx MJ
Thank you so much for your time and may all your wishes come true.