For Kitchener, Ontario-based folk musician Luke Michielsen, songwriting is a necessity. Since he was a teenager, it has been a way that he processes emotions, turning his personal experiences into heartfelt songs that have connected with audiences around the world throughout his fourteen year career.
When his college-rock band Slowking dissolved in 2007, Luke turned his attention to a solo career. In 2008, he released his debut album Burn to the Ground which he followed up in 2011 with an EP, Meddle in the Natural Order. These songs, like those throughout Luke’s catalogue, are influenced by both his love of literature and his interest in examining history through a critical lens.
But it was Luke’s sophomore LP Oh Surround Me (2014) that changed the course of his career. He wrote most of it while being treated for cancer and the album’s celebratory standout track “Pine Needles” was written a week after his last chemo session. Incredibly, Luke later learned that Oh Surround Me made its way to Australia where it is played in an oncology waiting room.
Following the release of his 2017 standalone single “Berlin, ON” – a reflection on the history of Kitchener – Luke is preparing to release his new record, Landlocked.
Produced by Joshua Cwintal and mixed by Andy Magoffin at House of Miracles Studio in Cambridge, Ontario the album’s nine songs are intimate alternative-folk affairs that largely focus on the mental health repercussions of overworking.
Across his new record, Luke, struggling with burnout himself, sings about not having enough time to be creative in “Full Moon and Old Friends”, how healing nature can be on “Landlocked” and his desire to slow down on the meditative closing track “Slow and Steady”. On the rollicking first single “Workin’ Man,” Luke looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognize his own reflection. He has become who he has always feared: a man consumed by his work. “I need some help and I want it fast,” he begs.
In her book How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy, Jenny Odell writes, “Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.” With Landlocked, Luke echoes Odell’s sentiment and emphasizes the need for self-care. He hopes that his record will start a conversation about how valuable creativity is as an outlet and how important it is to take care of yourself.
Written by Laura Stanley