Music and Songwriting/The Question Box - A Guide to Performing and Exploring Musical Emotion and Communication

Mike Jankowski edit


  • My name is Jon Michael Swift and this is the Question Box
  • The subject for this episode is Michael Jankowski. He's ____(age) and works as an occupational therapist in Arizona?
  • Mike's a work-hard-play-hard kind of guy; he loves music and surfing, and was one of the first volunteers for this project. [do we have anything more descriptive? I'm gonna ask Mike]
  • We actually grew up together and went to the same church, but when college came around, we went our separate ways; him to Hawaii, me to Philadelphia.
  • We both had similar experiences of "culture shock" while in college, which really helped expand our perspectives on humanity.


  • In my interview with Mike, a theme that consistently arose from his experience in Hawaii was the camaraderie and feeling of family that the culture exuded.
  • (Play snippets?)
    1. 6:17 - "People appreciate the family dynamic more."
    2. 28:55 - "Uncle...", 29:35 - "brother", family first'
    3. 40:16 - flat tire, borrow phone,, "wanna stay for dinner?
  • There were a few specific instances from the interview that also found their way directly into the lyrics of the song. (this seems repetitive)
  • For example, Mike shared a conversation that he had with a friend who realized how much she took her wealth/upbringing for granted. (Play "Coach bags" - 14:38 - friend taking wealth for granted, perspective) (I might move this idea up earleir)
  • Another anecdote that Mike shared comes back to the theme of family (and also generosity) that he noticed while in Hawaii. I'll let him explain... (Play "Barbecue" - 33:51)
  • Finally, a few Hawaiian terms show up in the song. Mike went in depth about one in particular: "Haole". (Play "Haole" - 41:11)
  • There are a couple of other great quotes from the interview that I think are worth sharing as well:
    1. 37:31 - "Island's either gonna spit you out or take you in."
    2. 25:05 (2nd vid) - perspective, getting out of bubble
  • So, you've gotten insight into the type of person Mike is and the kind of experiences he had while in Hawaii. Hopefully this background information is a good segway into the song I wrote for him...

Play song?

Take aways:

  • The main thing I took away (and I'm sure what many of you took away as well) from talking to Mike was the sense of community that Hawaiian culture has. This ability to relate is very unlike the norms and mores of the culture in which he grew up (State College), hence why Mike was so taken aback by some of the experiences he shared earlier. (I'd rather an illustration here)
  • In a lot of ways, I feel like this song can play the role of a "social action"; there are two main "cultural therapy" ideas that I think people would benefit from if made aware. The first being a major theme we've already touched on: treating strangers like family, and being generous.


  • Second and last, I can see this song as a means of raising awareness of Hawaii's current political situation....
    • The indigenous = Polynesian by descent, but have been the minority ever since European + Japanese imperialism changed the demographics and culture.
    • There is a push for independence by Hawaii as a separate nation and by the indigenous population...??
    • I don't think a majority of Continental Americans are aware of this.... How to conclude??