“Shy” is not an adjective one would use to describe Migguel Anggelo. The Brooklyn based singer, songwriter, dancer, and performer is an animated, fireball of positive charm whose sincere concern for the world and love of music is expressed through nearly every word he speaks. His vibe is so infectious that he’s attracted the attention of famous celebrities, as well as Tony winning costume designer, Clint Ramos. Ramos saw one of Anggelo’s shows years ago and insisted on creating lavish pieces for him.
Last year, the Venezuelan born artist left sold out audiences at Joe’s Pub begging for more with his deeply personal solo show, Another Son of Venezuela. Later this month, On Tuesday May 23rd and Wednesday May 24th, he’ll return to his self-described second home to premiere a brand new work, So Close: Love and Hate.
Anggelo recently met at midtown coffee shop where he talked to Manhattan Digest about his latest project, his unabashed views on politics, and his most cherished performing experience. He also shared some pictures of a chair he made from match sticks. In addition to being a multi-hyphenated performer, he also designs his own furniture—proving that the only thing Anggelo can’t do is boredom.
MD: Where did you draw inspiration for So Close: Love and Hate?
MA: First I chose the theme. I chose songs that I’ve known for a long time that I love to sing and then I wrote original songs based around those themes.
MD: What can audiences expect this time around?
MA: This show will be completely different from my last show, Another Son of Venezuela, was more autobiographical and this show will be more about the journey of love and hate and how close they are to each other. There will be a lot of Latin, world music, pop, opera…even a Bjork song. Another big difference is that I normally perform with my band, The Immigrants. In this show, there will only be three musicians.
MD: And will there be any autobiographical aspects in the show or is it more political and thematic?
MA: There are little things about everything. Of course there will be political themes because I’m very ‘Fu** this’ about politics right now, but it’s also reflective of my fears for the next generation. Right now, we are creating a very wrong planet. Politicians are so ‘me’ oriented and they need to learn that they are there to help. It is not about their egos.
MD: In your last show, you talked about the 12 year process of obtaining your green card. I wanted to hear your thoughts on the current state of immigration and what advice you have for immigrants wishing to come to and stay in the USA?
MA: First of all, I think that this current administration is one of divisiveness and that is so wrong. The idea of building a wall to separate people and countries is so ironic because this country was built on immigrants! It’s ridiculous. However, you should be legal if you want to be in this country because it is good for your mind and your state of being. If you’re legal, you can do many things. If not, you just live in fear. But I also think that the current administration needs to help people who are already illegal to become legal citizens. That way, they can pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and make this country more powerful.
MD: Do you consider yourself an activist or do you just let your music speak for itself?
MA: Both. When I see something either good or bad, I try to use the words in my music to express it. I hope that when people listen, they will become inspired to do something. One of my favorite words right now is ‘resist.’ That’s exactly what we need to do: Resist, Resist, Resist! It’s not about being a Republican or Democrat. It’s about being a good person and not a pathological liar or insane psychopath.
MD: Your repertoire is so eclectic. Did you have access and exposure to all varieties of music growing up?
MA: I did. I remember going to my friend’s house, watching Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. A friend of my father’s used to play opera in his house and my mother was a ballet dancer and used to listen to beautiful classical music. And I love Broadway. So, I’ve had a lot of musical variety.
MD: As an openly gay artist, do you work to attract gay audiences or is your target audience more universal?
MA: It’s really more universal. I actually wish I had more gay people at my shows!
MD: What has been your most rewarding performing experience?
MA: All of the experiences are great. First of all, every time I perform, I am so nervous. I’m so crazy I think that I’m going to die. I ask myself why I’m doing it. But the second after the first song has ended and the audience applauds, I understand exactly why I’m doing it.
Probably the best experience I ever had singing happened in Cleveland. I was performing with the Oblivion Project, a group that focuses on the music of tango legend Astor Piazzolla. There was a girl in the audience who came to me at the end and said, ‘You are so beautiful.’ I realized that she was blind. She said, ‘I don’t need to have eyesight to see how beautiful you are.’ I cried like crazy. That was a beautiful experience.
MD: Have you performed for anyone that you’ve idolized?
MA: During one of my shows last year, there was a lady who was yelling ‘Bravo! Bravo!’ and ‘Encore! Encore!’ I didn’t see who it was because of the lights, but I later learned that it was Glenn Close. She is a friend of my husband and I have become quite friendly with her as well. I was so touched because I’ve always loved her!
MD: You’ve performed all over the world. Do audiences react differently in other parts of the globe?
MA: They are the same really. I come to every performance with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. Wherever my band and I go and whether we sing in English or Spanish, it doesn’t really matter. Music is a universal language.
Migguel Anggelo Presents: So Close: Love & Hate
Tuesday, May 23rd and Wednesday, May 24th at 7 p.m @ Joe’s Pub 425 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10003
Please watch him perform his song, “Inmigrantes”, which is a perfect anthem for human rights in a time where immigrants in our nation are living in fear and uncertainty.