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Michou sets out to win new fans

T.K. Dallman | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 15th, 2010

With album title references to existentialist writers like Dostoevsky and Colin Wilson, one might not expect such a foolhardy, fun-loving band from pop-folkers, Michou. But regardless of their highbrow influences, that's just what they are.

“You can get really philosophical and really smart, and I'm sure you've had one philosophy class at one point in time [where] there are some kids who think they're really smart sh-t... but at the end of the day, you can learn all that stuff, but you learn it all just to work yourself back to being a normal person,” said Michael Hargreaves, the band's singer and primary songwriter from his home in Windsor, Ontario.

Things have changed a lot for the band over the past year or so. “Music has been a full time job since about September,” Hargreaves said, and now with their second album, Cardona, primed for release, Michou are preparing for their next big tour, which will take them to Fanshawe College's Forwell Hall on March 18. Luckily, Michou don't mind being on the road.

“Traveling is sort of... cerebral, and you're locked up reading books. But going on tour teaches you what life is sort of about. I always go back to one experience we had on the road where we drove 17 hours in one day and played a show. That drive was from Fredericton up to Rimouski [in northern Quebec], and down to Kingston. And in Fredericton it was like springtime, but when we went up to Rimouski there was like 10 feet of snow. And we drove all night and ended up in Kingston and it was boiling hot, like t-shirt [weather]. So in that one-day we did all this driving, barely slept, and experienced three different seasons. But it's experiences like that that you realize are super important.”

And since Myshkin, the band's debut album, Michou have not only grown as artists performing cute sentimental songs and kitschy banjo pop ballads, but as businessmen. Most significantly, their initial naivety about the functioning of the music industry has begun to dissipate.

“The more we're learning about the industry, the more we're realizing we're so small, and it's just a big game, kind of,” Hargreaves said. “I think that we're doing a great job at manipulating it in our favour, [but] every day we get challenged and every day we get confused, trying to figure out like, ‘How do I figure out this SOCAN application?' It's always challenging and as much you learn, there's so much you need help with.”

Regardless, Michou's hard work has been paying off, and the band has developed a strong fanbase, especially amongst teenagers, over the past few years. Still, they don't plan on stopping there.

“[With Cardona] we wanted to write a record that was for everyone, that everyone could share, with lessons and morals and ideas that everyone could appreciate. It just so happens that a lot of our crowd is younger. The majority of our marketing is done online and the majority of the people online (that are) really active and participating are young females. But I think once things open up and get into other mediums it won't be just limited to them. I think our demographic is really based on where our music is played.”

Radio and TV support has been good for Michou's first single, Growing Younger, thus far, but now the band hopes to win over more fans, including the students of Fanshawe College. They'll be performing this Thursday, March 18 for Fanshawe's New Music Nooner - check them out for a refreshing blast of catchy pop-folk music. You won't regret it.
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