If there’s a formula for artistry, it’s something like one part elation and beauty, one part angst and rueful inability to hold on to whatever was beautiful.
Somehow, though only in his mid-20s, Alberta-born, Victoria-based folk singer/songwriter Mike Edel has mastered the balance.
Launching a tour to support two new singles and a music video in Kelowna this Thursday, Oct. 25, he’s still struggling with themes from the last time he toured the Okanagan—youthful exuberance versus the realization this period is fleeting and what the future might hold versus the paths already narrowed, choices already eliminated.
Nowhere are these themes more evident than in the place one grew up.
“As much as home is this perfect tactile, concrete place, everyone has these internal struggles about that space,” he said in a telephone interview from the Alberta farm where he was raised.
The 26-year-old artist had just pressed 42 seven-inch vinyls, one song on each side, and framed by his own hand in old barn wood rather than the usual album cover.
His own process thus mirrors the juxtaposition of his subjects, mixing old-world craftsmanship with high-production video to attract a tech-savvy folk audience who like their acoustic streamed live and their music stored in clouds.
But, with five years in the industry under his belt, he also is quite calculated about that mix.
“I don’t make rash decisions,” he explained. “Even though people may see me as a carefree musician, those who really know me would say I move slowly and think things through.”
One of the main things he’s contemplating lately is the state of the family farm where he got the wood to build those album frames. His grandfather escaped the Russian czar, as he puts it, immigrating first to Mexico then to the Canadian prairies where his father, the son-in-law, now farms the family’s 1500 acres.
His sister is a teacher and mother living on that land, but he has chosen a life in music, describing it as “a way to articulate in a concise, yet open manner the microcosm and the macrocosm of the world.”
Music has served him well.
Starting with drums at age 14 and moving into the guitar by age 16, he has worked his way up to a spot in the Peak Performance Project this year; the cut to make the final five occurs in early November.
He’s just completed a business project submission for the popular contest, sponsored by The Peak 102.7 radio station in Vancouver, but says he ultimately plays music so that he doesn’t have to work in business or in a field or as a welder.
“Music has soul,” he said and soul appears to be important to him.
Then again, his father grows wheat, barley and Canola, arguable soul food when he describes it as “bread, beer and canola oil.”
Come out and hear all about it in his new single The Country Where I Come From, the first of the two songs on the newly minted vinyl (the other More Than Summer), a follow up to his debut album The Last of Our Mountains.
Mike Edel plays Habitat, 248 Leon Avenue on Oct. 25. Tickets are $9.50 available online or at the door, 248 Leon Ave.