Migguel Anggelo is ready to unveil his new live show, "So Close: Love & Hate," which kicks off with a limited engagement at New York City's Joe's Pub on May 23 and 24. After previously debuting his album La Casa Azul at Joe's Pub in 2015, the Venezuelan singer and performer connected with AXS for another email interview to discuss his return to the venue and what his newest live show has to offer.
AXS: Your concerts are always driven by a message. How would you describe what we can expect from this live show?
Migguel Anggelo: I’m truly excited about this show. It’s going to be very theatrical – lots of wild and surprising costumes that I have created in collaboration with the awesomely talented, Tony-Award winning Clint Ramos. And this is all new material (and instrumentation) for us. While my band The Immigrants is still a big part of my life, for this one, three musicians will accompany me on piano and keyboards, cello, flute, saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet. We have eight new original songs in the show as well as a handful of covers that we are reinterpreting in unique and meaningful ways. This is not just a concert or a cabaret show. Rather, our goal is to elevate this sonic collage about love and hate in our times to the realm of performance art.
AXS: How do you create music when you're mixing it with bigger issues in the world at hand? It seems like that would make the process more complicated or at least longer.
MA: You know, I write very quickly. Sometimes the framework of a song comes together for me in 30 minutes or less! Of course, later, I sit with my collaborators Mau Quiros and David Drake and we polish the initial song sketches, and that does take longer. I pretty much always write the lyrics first. It’s rare that a melody will come to me without lyrics, but I sing that into my phone as a sketch. Then Mau and I work on that more completely together when we meet up. My inspiration comes from everywhere - from the news, politics, walking on the street or taking the subway, in my dreams - and I keep a sketch book and a pencil with me always. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night inspired, and I will jot down my thoughts quickly.
I am often driven by issues of immigration and identity, and especially now, the political situation in my Venezuela and in the United States. For instance, in my new show, our original song “I Hate This Song” is a result of my frustration with the new administration in Washington as well as the many hypocrite leaders of our world today. The song is an immediate reaction to our President’s insistence on building a wall separating Mexico and the U.S. While I may find my inspiration in a lot of noisy political places, I truly love to write in silence. For me silence is a very powerful sound.
AXS: What audiences may not know is just how truly international your live performances are, because of your vast musical history. Can you explain how varied your experience is?
MA: I grew up in Venezuela in a household of music. My dad sang boleros and opera endlessly. My mom danced ballet. And from the earliest age, I was in love with music. At age 13, I auditioned for a Broadway touring production of "Pinocchio" in my city of Valencia, and to my shock, I was awarded the title character role. When I said to the director Levy Rossell, “But I can’t sing,” he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll teach you.” And that was the start of my journey on stage and with the song. Since, I’ve been in many musical productions in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, went on to an opera academy in Cologne, Germany, and as an adult and in the United States, have focused my energies on creating music and shows that blur the lines between live music and theater.
AXS: What are you hoping that the audience takes away from this latest live show?
MA: I’d love for our audiences to walk away believing that love is the solution to hate and there is always light behind darkness. In our funky times, it’s what I truly believe, and it helps me deal with all the horrible things that we read/see in the news every day. And of course, I want them to walk away loving the music. That goes without saying.
"Migguel Anggelo: Love & Hate" debuts at Joe's Pub on May 23. For more upcoming shows at the venue, visit its venue page at AXS.