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Social Encore: Seeking change with Love
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Music does wonders when it comes to altering your attitude. It helps motivate us when we are working out, eases our mind when we’ve had a hard day, and some songs even help inspire us. If you are looking for an album to start your new year on the right foot, then Mike Love’s solo debut, “The Change I’m Seeking” should be something you pick up.
Born and raised on Oahu, Love grew up in Kalama Valley with a musical family. It was no surprise when he decided to learn how to create music.
“I never really had any formal musical training, besides some piano lessons when I was young,” said Love in response to questions sent via email. “I really just learned from listening and watching.”
At 16 years old, Love tried all sorts of instruments but found his perfect match was a guitar.
“I feel so lucky to have been raised in a musical family,” he said. “Growing up watching my dad and grandpa write songs, it really had a big impact on me.”
A big family man, the Kaiser High School graduate said one of his main inspirations for writing songs is being a father. A musician with an irie soul, writing songs with a message is what Love’s music is all about — and he feels his parents’ unconditional support throughout his musical career is what helps him remember that.
“My parents really raised me right, which is the main reason why I make music with a message, with a reason,” he said.
Many urged him to hurry and create an album, but Love said wanted to make sure he took his time to get everything right. From writing songs to selecting musicians, Love was present for every aspect of this album and said he put his heart and soul into it.
“I love working and collaborating with other musicians, but this was me trying to see what I was made of, what I could come up with on my own,” he said. “I’m proud of it and I love how it came out.”
If you close your eyes and listen to his songs, it just moves your soul. The first track on the album, “Let the Healing Begin,” puts a smile on your face and helps you believe there is hope out there in this crazy world of ours.
Love’s favorite song on the album is one of my favorites, too. “Butterflies and Beef Stew” has a melody that just soothes you. When Love sings the high notes throughout his verses, you start to gravitate towards the lyrics and create a personal connection with his tone.
“Butterflies and Beef Stew” is a family track for Love. His kids inspired the lyrics, and his wife is featured as well.
“I forced my wife to sing on it and I think she sounds beautiful, even though she adamantly disagrees,” he said. “Every time I hear the ending I can’t help but feel warm in my heart.”
There are 13 tracks on the album and you will hear songs with a strong reggae beat, but also influences from other genres. “Human Race” has a strong horn foreground and makes you feel as if Love put his own reggae twist with a hint of the blues on the track.
“I weave a lot of different styles together,” he said. “I love and have played so many different styles of music that I find it hard to stick to just one, but reggae is definitely my foundation.”
Another one of Love’s favorites is “I’m Ready,” and he shared the different approach used when recording it.
“After we recorded the basic tracks live, I just started overdubbing and building on them until I felt they were complete,” he said. “(It’s) completely backwards from what I’m used to doing.”
Although stepping out the norm during his recording process, Love says that “I’m Ready” is a track that benefitted from a big arrangement and he can’t wait to tour with a 15-piece band for audiences to hear.
“Everything was really serendipitous on this album,” he said. “With the right musicians, the right studio and producer lining up at the perfect time, it was just meant to be.”
Music is such a huge part of Love’s life and says he can’t imagine a world without it.
“Music is how I work things out in my life, it’s how I express how I truly feel about things that I can’t say with words alone. Everyone needs an outlet for emotional creativity, music is what feels natural to me,” he said. “I think it’s different for everyone who experiences my music. Everyone feels the music a little differently.
“I just hope it helps them heal or grow, that’s the main thing that’s important to me, it’s why I make music.”
Love starts a tour in March, which will include stops at the South by Southwest Music Festival and Wildfire Reggae Festival in Austin, Tex. A summer tour with Paula Fuga is also in the works.
“The Change I’m Seeking” is available for digital download via Love’s website and iTunes, with CD copies available at Jelly’s, Hungry Ear, and from Love himself.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.