There’s more to mu­sic than top 40

How an eighth grade met­al­head found his niche

The Kids Post - - Music - By Ron John­son

If a child did noth­ing but lis­ten to top 40 mu­sic on the ra­dio, she might be hard pressed to delve into less pop­u­lar sonic ter­ri­tory. But with the In­ter­net and vinyl­wield­ing par­ents kick­ing out the jams in all shapes and sizes, there is more mu­sic avail­able to kids than ever be­fore as young artists con­tinue to find their own voices.

Take Tom Miekle, who re­leased his stun­ning de­but al­bum this sum­mer un­der the moniker Mappe Of. Grow­ing up in sub­ur­ban Whitby, he formed his first band in Grade 8 and their cho­sen genre was metal, the fur­thest thing from the Beebs or any­thing else on the ra­dio at the time.

“Through­out high school, I was also in a cou­ple of metal bands, but I ex­per­i­mented in dif­fer­ent gen­res, but there was a strong hard­core and metal scene in Whitby,” he ex­plains. “Metal will al­ways be my first love, but there are a lot of dif­fer­ent direc­tions to ex­plore mu­sic in a broader sense.”

Mappe Of ’s new al­bum, A North­ern Star, A Per­fect Stone, is al­ready gar­ner­ing sig­nif­i­cant crit­i­cal ac­claim along­side com­par­isons to other sonic ad­ven­tur­ers such as Bon Iver.

Miekle de­vel­oped the project while still a stu­dent at Fan­shawe Col­lege’s mu­sic in­dus­try arts pro­gram where he started work­ing more heav­ily with syn­the­siz­ers and ef­fects ped­als.

“Song­writ­ing in this way only re­ally came about in the past five years or so,” he says.

“When I went to school, it be­came very much the fo­cus, and I started ex­per­i­ment­ing with ma­nip­u­lat­ing acous­tic sounds.”

Meikle has found a happy mid­dle ground be­tween or­ganic and syn­thetic el­e­ments of his mu­si­cal up­bring­ing to craft a sound that at once seems time­less and au­then­tic and en­tirely new.

He counts some per­sonal tur­moil as a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor in find­ing a bet­ter way to ex­press his feel­ings than pro­gres­sive metal.

“I just didn’t have that much to say from an in­stru­men­tal per­spec­tive, so I shifted to this dif­fer­ent way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing,” he says. “My sense of melody started to come back in waves.”

Like an in­creas­ing num­ber of artists, Miekle first found an au­di­ence for his mu­sic via in the In­ter­net.

“Things def­i­nitely snow­balled,” he says. “As much as the In­ter­net can feel like an empty end­less abyss there is re­deem­ing qual­i­ties to it and I think this is a good case study of that.”

Al­though it’s a dou­ble-edged sword, he thinks the abil­ity to find an au­di­ence, how­ever small, is rea­son enough for young mu­si­cians to con­tinue do­ing what they love in­stead of con­form­ing to a style that has mass ap­peal.

“There is a niche for nearly ev­ery­thing now, con­sid­er­ing the so­cial cli­mate and what you can do on the In­ter­net. You can come up with weird­est stuff and find some­one who likes it,” he says.

“If it feels good com­ing out of you, if it feels nat­u­ral and ex­cit­ing to you, then odds are in your favour oth­ers will feel the same.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.mappeof.band­camp.com.

Tom Miekle’s first mu­si­cal love is metal, and he played in nu­mer­ous bands dur­ing high school

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