Welcome back to the JamJews Artist of the Month series! This month, we feature Ethan Michael!
JJ: What is your Jewish background like?
EM: My Jewish background is that my mother’s side of my family is Jewish, but my father’s side is not. I did not practice Judaism growing up but have celebrated holidays with extended family several times.
JJ: How has your music been inspired (or not) by Judaism and Jewish music?
EM: I wouldn’t say Jewish music has been much of an influence on my music, but as a guitar player there are scales that are unique to jewish music that also make their way into popular secular music. I immediately think of Dick Dale and the Del tones who performed Hava Nagila on the electric guitar back in the 60’s and then wrote Misserlou another important song to the development electric guitar playing. Even more so I would say instruments unique to Jewish music have had a larger influence on me than the songs themselves, such as aa Oud it creates a very interesting timbre which I could see myself using in other musical situations.
JJ: What is your current Jewish practice and identity like?
EM: I do not practice Judaism, but in the past few years I have taken Jewish literature classes in college and find the role of Jewish people in world history as well as the Jewish story as it pertains to America to be very interesting. One of my favorite books that ties together Jewish people and America is The Melting Pot which would go onto be a successful play, and is where the term ‘melting pot’ comes from. I recommend reading it to anyone who has not.
JJ: What bands have you been in?
EM: I have been in several bands spanning genres from funk, to rock and roll, and even jazz. the band I am most excited to be a part of right now is my band The Beach People. You can find our music on Bandcamp the focus of our music is to have as much fun as possible. Some other bands I am in are called Great Blue, Alreach, and Fashøn. these projects all have music uploaded on every platform right now go check it out.
JJ: What is your favorite style of music to play?
EM: My favorite music to play is music that is loud and unapologetically present in its performance. I guess you could say rock and roll. Although rock and roll is not technically the most difficult genre, it takes a lot of commitment to be a great rock musician. You have to really believe in yourself as a rockstar to put on a great show, and when you do it is some of the most powerful music anyone can be apart of.
JJ: If you were to create a themed tefillah (prayer) service in any genre, what would you choose and why?
EM: Free Jazz because there are no boundaries and you do not have to play an instrument to contribute to the music even the room that their performance would be held in becomes part of the music. Additionally to make free jazz or good avant garde music you have to be selfless and listen to the other people partaking in the music as well and that is something I believe god wants us all to do for one another.
JJ: Where can people learn more about your music, and support you as an artist?
EM: You can hear my newest music at https://thebeachpeople.bandcamp.com/album/cowabunga-live-at-kokomolo
where you can also download it for free or purchase the album if you feel so inclined. You can also check out my other bands Great Blue, Alreach, Fashøn on all major streaming platforms. I hope you enjoy it because it was a blast writing and recording the music with those bands too.
JJ: Anything else you'd like JamJews to know?
EM: No, but thanks for having me it was great chatting with you.