PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Robertson
THIS week starts…
PHOTO CREDIT: Ally May Chadwick
with a look at Mike Legere and his latest track, Yourself. The Canadian songwriter talks about the song and what is coming up; if there are going to be any tour dates down the line – I ask him whether he is heading to the U.K. before the end of the year.
Legere discusses playing solo and as a band member; the three albums that mean the most to him; which new artist we need to check out; whether he has a favourite memory from his time in music; what sort of music he grew up around – he tells me what he hopes to achieve by the time 2018 is through.
Hi, Mike. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m great! Just getting over a cold – but my energy is coming back and it feels really good. The week has been good; pretty hectic preparing for the release and the tour I leave for tomorrow, but fun and exciting.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Mike Legere. I play Indie-Folk-Rock. I’m releasing a solo record and I play in the bands Century Thief and Places Erupt, too. I do some audio engineering and producing as well.
Yourself is your new single. What is the story behind it?
Yourself is about who we are when we are alone vs. who we are when we are with other people. It’s about how the way people define us gets ingrained in how we see ourselves and the feeling of loneliness that’s created when you separate yourself from the limits of those descriptions.
The first chorus talks about the feeling of standing in opposition and how that can feel kind of futile but then the second one explores the alternative, of embodying that persona and becoming a caricature of yourself - which is obviously limiting. I wrote it on the first Thanksgiving I ever spent alone: coming from a big family that really values our time together, there’s definitely a loneliness that seeped into it.
It is from your debut solo album, Ourselves in Public (out 8th June). Are there common stories and themes that go into the music/songs?
Yeah. The whole record is about social identity and persona. The songs explore those things in different ways from different angles.
PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn Robertson
You recorded the album in various cool spots around the world. Was that to give the songs a more natural and varied feel? Was there a favourite experience/space from that time?
I knew when I started this project because it’s about being around other people and being in public; that I wanted to use a lot of ‘found sound’ to try and place the listener in the world I was talking about. I just was listening everywhere I went, capturing as many different sounds as I could. I was in Paris with my partner and my siblings and we went to this weird part of the city to see a show. I have no idea where it was but, on the way back, the sounds in the subway were just so interesting.
The mixture of the rumble and people talking and yelling- it was both familiar and foreign, so I got a good bit of that and it plays over the end of the album- though I’ve altered it beyond recognition through effects like pitching and distortion. You can still hear the different elements though - and the fact that it’s all unintelligible makes it better for me.
You play in other bands. What was the reason for doing a solo record? Do you notice differences in terms of discipline and sound?
Yeah, for sure. I was writing some stuff that didn’t really suit the band as well; that’s part of it. I have always been a fan of concept albums and wanted to do a larger project where I could focus on a theme. I figured I would learn a lot about production and arrangement by doing it by myself and get to explore different sounds and play different instruments.
What sort of music did you grow up around? Was there a specific point where you knew music was what you wanted to do?
I grew up around a lot of Folk music and a lot of singer-songwriter stuff. My brother, Stewart Legere, is an incredible musician and has been for about as long as I remember. He knew so many songs when I was a kid; we would sit around with a big group of people and sing all these songs and it was always such a warm and lovely feeling. My siblings would all sing harmonies - those are some of my fondest memories from childhood, and, probably, what set me off in this direction.
I started writing songs when I was like eight. I got into production and recording when I was a teenager but I feel like I’ve always known this is what interests me most: to make a lot of music and explore different ways of doing it.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
I leave on May 18th for a two-week tour to the East Coast of Canada, where I’m from. I’m actually playing my hometown on my birthday, which is fun. My tour dates are:
May 18 – Ottawa @ Pressed
May 19 – Orillia @ The Brownstone
May 24 – Charlottetown @ Baba’s Lounge
May 26 – St. John @ Peppers Pub
May 27 – Halifax @ The Carleton
May 29 – Fredericton @ Read’s Cafe and Newsstand
May 30 – St. Andrews @ Red Herring
June 1 – Montreal @ Bar L’Entre Nous
June 21 – Toronto @ The Burdock
Hopefully, I’ll be doing more throughout the year, too; just haven’t gotten that far yet.
Might you come to the U.K. and play?
I would very much love to. It’s not in the works right now, but I’ve never been to the U.K., so it’s something I hope to do eventually when it’s feasible for me.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I want to get my music out there more, have more people hear it and, hopefully, find an audience that’s into it. I’m working on some follow-up material now too. I’ve got an E.P. written which I want to finish and record. Also, my bands have a bunch of things in the works that I’m recording, so I hope to finish that stuff too.
ARTWORK CREDIT: Suse Silva
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
My friends back home would always hang out and pass a guitar around and share new material we were working on. We’d go song-for-song and it was always so inspiring. We still kind of do that when we have the opportunity. I cherish those memories for sure. They stick out as special.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
You Forgot It in People – Broken Social Scene
I heard that one and Feel Good Lost (I have a Feel Good Lost tattoo, actually) when I was a teenager and they both shook my world and shaped my taste in music a lot - also influenced me to move to Toronto.
Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan
It was an early influence on my songwriting and I still love that one.
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
I love how it builds on themes and on a concept but, also, explore all these different sonic avenues.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I mean, I’m still learning, so it’s hard for me to say anything with any authority...
I found one of the most rewarding things I’ve done is to work with a vocal coach, though. My singing teacher Peggy Redmond has really helped me develop as an artist - I think people are afraid of working with vocal coaches and I’m sure not all of them are as amazing as Peggy, but I can’t say enough how grateful I am to her and how much working with someone on my voice has helped me improve as an artist and musician.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kira May/PHOTO CREDIT: Adnan Khan
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Kira May. Her new album, Sense, is incredible.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love craft beer and hanging with close friends and family. I also run and do yoga and I find that stuff helps me keep a clear head.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Kira May – Saturation
Follow Mike Legere
ARTWORK CREDIT: Suse Silva