Mikey Pauker (pronounced pow-ker) is a Conscious Rock artist from Fairfax, California.
Pauker has been described as one of “The 10 Stars Of The New Jewish Music” via TIME Magazine. He has released multiple albums including Sim Shalom, Mikey Pauker & The JoyMachine, Extraordinary Love, The Sages EP & ASCENSION. This year Pauker released his new single “We Are Safe” produced by Jim Kaufman (AWOLNATION, Finish Ticket, Anti Flag) on Ineffable Records home to artists including Stick Figure, Through the Roots, Tropidelic, Mike Love among others. He performed the song and was a guest on The Aubrey Marcus podcast, a motivational destination for conversations with the brightest minds in athletics, business, science, relationships, and spirituality with over 35 million downloads on iTunes. His “RISE Vulnerable Rally” music video swept the world touching the hearts of over 1 million souls.
The Knockturnal spoke with the musician about his start in music, what it means to create conscious music, and his inspiration behind his work.
The Knockturnal: How did you get your start in music?
Mikey Pauker: I’ve been involved in music since a very young age. My father who was an avid supporter of Americana and folk music used to drive me around in his car and we would listen to Paul Simon’s Graceland. I remember my father pull onto the side of the road and saying to me “Mikey this is what we call the drums” and he would place his hand on mine and tap out the rhythm. As a kid, I used to dance in front of the mirror pretending that I was Michael Jackson. I remember asking my mother for my first guitar when I was in sixth grade. I began taking lessons with a music teacher and when I was in high school I remember receiving my first acoustic guitar. That changed everything. I started writing music and during my senior year, my band won the battle of the bands. Pretty soon later I started playing at a local coffee shop. I knew from a young age that music was going to be my life.
The dreams that I was having back then were premonitions of the life I’m living now.
The Knockturnal: Who are important mentors in your life?
Mikey Pauker: I’m grateful to my mentors who have guided me on my journey. About 10 years ago I headed out to Jerusalem to study at Yeshivah Simchat Shlomo where I met the dean of the school: Reb Sholom Brodt. For the first time in my life, I had a spiritual teacher and mentor who taught me in-depth about spiritual practice and study. I would meet him in the morning at the Mikvah (ritual bath)) and he would immerse me in the sacred waters. We would walk upstairs to the Shul and he would stand right next to me snd teach me how to pray. It was an intimate experience. Unfortunately, Reb Sholom passed away a couple of years ago. I never had the opportunity to say goodbye but I still feel him here with me.
I then met Rabbi Zelig Golden almost a decade ago at my cousin’s wedding. I felt like we had a soul connection. He mentioned to me that he was the founder and CEO of Wilderness Torah: the center for earth-based Judaism. For the past seven years, I have been participating in his organization through many facets and pilgrimage festivals. Zelig has been an extremely influential soul in my life who has supported me through spiritual rites of passage helping me connect to a deeper relationship with earth and spirit. Rabbi Zelig has taught me to walk humbly and to learn how to share my gifts. I’ve been learning how to dismantle the patriarchy that lives within me and the world around me. It’s been really powerful to work with him.
The Knockturnal: Your bio says you’re a conscious musician. What does that mean?
Mikey Pauker: Conscious music is a new wave of music crossing many genres uplifting positive and healing messages through music. You can see this wave happening throughout festival culture and on many streaming music platforms.
A lot of these artists are social and holistic activists that use their medium of music to connect listeners to spiritual and mind-altering concepts.
My music weaves the technology of mantra and affirmations implemented in the narratives of my songs to connect listeners with Spirit and their heart. Other artists in this genre include Rising Appalachia, Mike Love, Ayla Nereo. Many of these artists also tour throughout the year playing transformative music festivals like Envision, Beloved, Soulplay, Lighting In A Bottle.
The Knockturnal: How does faith play a role in your music?
Mikey Pauker: Faith is everything. Many of my songs are based on Kabbalistic text and my spiritual journey. I feel very blessed and privileged to have found sanctuary through my connection with God. It’s something I don’t take for granted. It’s a relationship based on sacred reciprocity.
My main practices to clear out my vessel so I can be in a sovereign place to receive these songs are meditation, chant, and dance. The spiritual technologies give us human beings the tools to clear our energetic bodies so we can step into this world as grounded and open vessels to receive messages from Creator, Spirit Guides, and our Ancestors.
The Knockturnal: Who are your favorite musicians?
Mikey Pauker: That’s a complicated question. I have so many favorites. I grew up listening to a lot of folk and reggae music: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Marley. In my youth, I listened to a lot of Christian rock music actually from going to underground shows at the churches in my hometown. These days I’ve been soaking up: NEEDTOBREATHE, Bon Iver, Chronixx, Coldplay, Dermot Kennedy, Jai Uttal.
The Knockturnal: Who would you like to collab with one day?
Mikey Pauker: Idan Raichel, Chronixx, Mike Love, Chris Martin, Ryan Tedder, Mike Dean, RY X, and of course Rick Rubin.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about your new song. What inspired it?
Mikey Pauker: “We Are Safe” Is a positive affirmation and mantra to lift us out of this dark chapter of human history. I know it’s been a very challenging year for most of the world and it surely has for me. This song is not asking us to ignore the real-life challenges that many of us are facing right now. Instead, it is a hopeful mantra that can create inspiration and upliftment so we can live our days connected more to our hearts. I released it on one of the most popular reggae and rock labels: Ineffable Records.
The Knockturnal: What has the pandemic been like for you?
Mikey Pauker: The pandemic has been a huge reset for me. As a touring musician, this is the first year in over a decade and I’ve been able to live a more domesticated life. Just like everyone I’ve had grievances that have ultimately become blessings. Although my tours were canceled this year I went to work. I focused on songwriting this year. I honestly can’t believe the powerful transmissions that have come through this year of that front. I couldn’t be more excited to release new music in 2021. At the same time, I want to get back to us so many musicians and spiritual teachers that have inspired me throughout the years. So I launched the “Weaving Earth Festival” which brought together viewers globally. From all three we had over 100,000 views. Not bad. Some of the presenters were: Jai Uttal, Porangui, MaMuse, Mose, George & Georgia Bertelstein, Samantha Sweetwater, Shiva Baum, and more! I also lost a Jewish music festival in partnership with The Reconstructionist Movement and Or Shalom called “Koleynu” bringing together some of the most well known Jewish musicians and wisdom carriers. Also, I released “We Are Safe” on Ineffable records. Also A couple of remixes for my song rise with both DJ Taz Rashid and Mose.
A few months ago I got into a head-on accident that forced me to slow down. I survived with a broken right wrist and an injured left hip. The past few months have been filled with intensive physical therapy to get me back on my feet. I finally can play guitar again and It feels like I fell back in love with the simplicity of just being able to play. Feels good.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next for you?
Mikey Pauker: I just finished mastering four brand new songs produced by Jim Kaufman (Awolnation, Finish Ticket, Antiflag) and we are right now shopping for them to labels. I’m excited to be releasing the full album in 2021 along with the series of music videos. Be on the lookout. Also, once things open up I’m going to begin touring. We shall see how that pans out. Everything is unpredictable due to the pandemic but I have a good feeling things will begin opening up in 2021.. we shall see. I hope to see you out there. Big love!
Stay connected at www.mikeypauker.com.