Think of Elvis crossed with a deeper dreamier voiced Chris Issak with the sultry looks of both artists and you have Michael Simic! No stranger to the Adelaide Fringe, Simic better known as Mikelangelo is performing his new show Caravan Songs in the Spiegeltent at The Garden. This show focuses on his family life stories including how at fifty he became a husband and a father. Simic answered a few question for the Hi Fi Way to let us know about his new show and what audiences can expect.
You’re known as Mikelangelo on the Fringe circuit what made you decide to perform under your real name this time?
Two years ago, at the age of 49, I became a dad and it changed everything. I’ve spent most of my life on the road playing shows. Putting down roots and learning to be in one spot has been a huge transition, but it was a change I was ready to make. I spent almost of all of 2019 at home in our converted church, with my wife Rose and our daughter Sunny. When 2020 went pear shaped, I was already well suited to isolation. We live in a little village called Majors Creek, it’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by lush bush and rivers, not far from the far south coast of NSW. Spending time with my feet on the earth and nature all around has reminded me of my childhood and brought me back to myself. It’s a good place to learn how to be a husband and a father, and my song writing has metamorphosized with the change. Mikelangelo seemed to be a persona from another life, and it just slipped away naturally. It’s still a bit of a shock seeing my given name on posters, but I’m getting used to it. My Mikelangelo alter ego is so natural to me now, I know I can call him when I need to…
Can you tell us what the show Caravan Songs is about?
I have a little caravan in the garden where I go to write songs, so the name of the show is quite literal. When I step inside the caravan, it’s like a portal to other worlds, worlds of imagination and emotion and truth. As I write, it feels like I’m making a map of my internal travels. I’m currently recording a solo album called Caravan Songs, and this will be the debut of the live show. I road tested most of the songs when I was on tour at the end of 2020, and the response was great, it felt like people connected with the new songs.
The show I’ve put together for Adelaide is interwoven with family stories. Now I’m a dad, I see my own parents in a whole new light. So, I tell some of the story of my mum and dad, they are amazing people who have lived wild and wonderful lives. I also talk about my own journey into fatherhood and all the ridiculous, harrowing, moving and mundane experiences that come along with it. I also sing a sort of love song to my caravan, which I just wrote recently. It seems to complete the show.
What is it like to sing songs that are about your family and the fact they are so personal? Does it make it easier or harder to perform?
It feels good. It’s my life, and it feels right to share it. I appreciate vulnerability in artists, and in this show I’m wide open. I don’t have a band to hide behind, it’s just me and my guitar. Families are absurd, and it’s a big emotional release to be able to laugh about the moments when we can’t cope, as well as celebrating the times when we’re at our best.
What can audiences expect from your show?
It’s like a road trip movie, and each song or story is a different scene, a glimpse into a another world. I think that’s what life is like, it’s a whole series of different, often unrelated moments that we try to stitch into a narrative to make sense of things. I hope the show will be transporting for people, particularly after all this time of not being able to see live music or performance of any sort. Going to concerts by artists that I love, has deeply affected the person that I am today, from icons like Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, to amazing Australian independent artists like Broads, JP Shilo and Cash Savage.
Are you looking forward to playing in the Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights?
The Spiegeltent is one of the most incredible venues anywhere, and the Garden is like a whole festival in itself, there’s so much to do and see. The Spiegeltent is like the Tardis, when you walk through the door, you know you’ll go on an adventure, but you don’t know where it’ll take you.
Playing in the Spiegeltent seems to be a specialty of yours as you’ve performed in it all around the world. Do you have some amazing memories you can share with your time in the tent?
I actually can’t count how many shows I’ve done in the Spiegeltent. The hours I’ve clocked up on that old wooden dancefloor is an achievement in itself. I’ve done lot of my own concerts in the tent, as well touring for years in shows like La Clique and La Soiree. I’ve met so many wonderful artists doing this, including the incredible Amanda Palmer, who I’ve gone on to tour with many times.
But I have to say that for me a lot of the real golden moments happen with the lovely folks who run the tent. They are a loveable bunch of carnies, from the front of house staff, to the tech operators, to the managers, it’s like a big crazy family. I feel right at home, which is what I want on tour, and home is actually very far away.
You’re no stranger to the Adelaide. I remember seeing you at the Fringe Club one year performing with Laurie Black. What’s is it about the Adelaide Fringe that makes you keep coming back?
It’s true, I love Adelaide. The Fringe is a leveller, everyone is here, from emerging acts to mid-career artists to household names. It’s all stirred into the pot and it makes a formidable marinade! I’ve played the Fringe seven or eight times, and I’ve performed at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival at least six times. What I really love about the Fringe is the spontaneous moments that can happen, like the club spot that you saw, which was off the hook. I wouldn’t have even met the very talented Laurie Black if wasn’t for Fringe. These collaborations that happen in the moment is what it’s all about. I miss Laurie very much, she’s in lockdown in the UK, and I know she’ll wish she was in Adelaide this year. I wonder what unexpected stage I’ll find myself on this year and what magic may happen?
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Michael Simic plays The Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights on Saturday 20 February at 6.30pm. Tickets from FringeTix.