There’s more to music than top 40
How an eighth grade metalhead found his niche
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