Luke Michielsen,

Waterloo Region Record - - Nightlife - CORAL AN­DREWS

Luke Michielsen loves to read historic plaques. The in­spi­ra­tion for his lat­est sin­gle “Ber­lin, ON” comes from a mon­u­ment in Vic­to­ria Park.

“I do un­der­stand that it is a cer­tain his­tory be­ing told,” says the Kitch­ener-based singer/song­writer.

“I love think­ing about that kind of stuff — what would life had been like here 100 years ago ... 200 years ago,” he muses. “The house that I live in was built in 1900.”

Some peo­ple still re­call those days and the anger on both sides his­tory.

“I even had an Ir­ish man come up to me af­ter one of my shows,” says Michielsen. “He said, ‘Oh yeah, I grew up on the same street where the Lord Kitch­ener birth home is and we are all so em­bar­rassed by him,’” he adds.

“Ber­lin, ON” is a pow­er­ful song and Michielsen has plans to in­clude a remix of the sin­gle on his next al­bum.

Michielsen is an English ma­jor known for his in­trigu­ing turns of phrase. The song “Jan­uary Snow” from his re­cent al­bum “Oh Sur­round Me” is based on Micheal On­daatje’s book “In the Skin of a Lion.”

“That was a book that re­ally ap­pealed to me. It was one of the only books that I can truly say, when I read the first sen­tence, I felt I had to read the whole book. I de­voured it, ” he says.

“Ba­si­cally ‘Jan­uary Snow’ is a com­pi­la­tion of the im­agery that I re­mem­ber from that book. I felt On­daatje painted so many sim­ple yet mag­i­cal set­tings,” says Michielsen.

Many peo­ple have asked him about his ref­er­ence to “pars­ley, sage, rose­mary and thyme” in “Jan­uary Snow” think­ing it’s a salute to the Si­mon and Gar­funkel song “Scar­bor­ough Fair.”

“Ah, it’s not that I don’t like or ap­pre­ci­ate Si­mon and Gar­funkel but I was not hugely into them,” ad­mits Michielsen. “Scar­bor­ough Fair” was in the les­son book that I learned gui­tar from. It was “Gui­tar Method One,” he ex­plains. “That is likely how it got into my sub­con­scious,” he adds with a laugh.

Michielsen is orig­i­nally from Keswick, and has been in the Kitch­ener for five years. He came to study for teacher’s col­lege at Wil­frid Lau­rier Univer­sity.

“My par­ents grew up in Parkhill north of Lon­don so I have fam­ily in Lon­don and I also have fam­ily in Toronto. I am in the mid­dle of an ex­tended fam­ily,” notes Michielsen, adding his par­ents lis­tened to The Bea­tles “Sgt. Pep­per,” The Beach Boys, and Michael Jack­son.

“I al­ways re­mem­ber clearly (Neil Young’s) “Har­vest Moon” on the mix tape,” he re­calls. “It just took me to that other world — that place where it is mys­te­ri­ous and mag­i­cal but also so sim­ple.”

Mys­te­ri­ous, mag­i­cal and sim­ple are key­words in Michielsen’s life and they flow through his mu­sic. His in­die folk sound takes some vo­cal cues from Neil Young and R. E. M with the clever lyri­cal bent of Stephen Stan­ley, Dono­van Wood, Kevin Di­vine, and Joshua Hys­lop.

Michielsen’s mu­sic cat­a­logue in­cludes “Ri­val Cities” (2007), “Burn to the Ground” (2008), “Med­dle in Nat­u­ral Or­der” (2011), “Live in New­mar­ket” (2012) and “Oh Sur­round Me” (2014).

“Oh Sur­round Me” was funded by the On­tario Arts Coun­cil and pro­duced with long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Mike Lang­ford (Moist) who also worked on other Michielsen al­bums over the years.

Michielsen has a core group of peo­ple on “Oh Sur­round Me” in­clud­ing Owen Cherry on drums and Milosz Sikora, from Knock Knock Gin­ger, and Cat­lantis, plus

Jeff Woods of Hinin­dar, who also ran The Trepid House.

Michielsen spent three months work­ing with these mu­si­cians, and then added jazz gui­tarist Thom Gill to the mix.

“I saw Thom years ago at Guelph when he was part of the Foun­tain Street Blues Project,” re­calls Michielsen. “So I started fol­low­ing him. He played with Owen Pal­lett (Bro­ken So­cial Scene) and he plays with John South­wood,” he adds.

Other mu­si­cians in­clude D’eve Archer from Guelph on backup vo­cals, Martin Eckart on sax­o­phone, and sym­phony cel­list Sa­muel Bis­son.

“The num­bers re­ally jumped when I brought in a group of my 10 friends,” says Michielsen.

“Hy­pother­mia” is a sweep­ing fire-andice love rev­e­la­tion. Other full cho­rus tracks in­clude “Ev­ery Time I Come Home,” and “Pine Nee­dles. ”

Michielsen also plans to re­lease an acous­tic ver­sion of “Pine Nee­dles” as a dig­i­tal sin­gle which will avail­able on the usual stream­ing ser­vices.

“Pine Nee­dles,” “Well Main­tained,” and “To Change is to Fall” fea­ture spare me­an­der­ing gui­tar riffs sim­i­lar to the “heartland” in­die rock sound of Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs.

Michielsen plans to record his next al­bum in early 2019 with the re­lease in early 2020.

“In the past, I have al­ways re­leased the al­bum in Oc­to­ber and then all of sud­den three months later it is a year old; for ex­am­ple, “Oh Sur­round Me” came out in Novem­ber 2014. Wouldn’t be nice if that al­bum would have come out in 2015? It would seem more re­cent!”

ROGER SCH­MIDT

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