There is a dreamlike float coursing throughout the entirety of the songs of Hibou, whether those songs are ruminating on feelings of anxiety, heartbreak, or slipping far away from the carefree nature of childhood. The nostalgia Peter Michel's lyrics often touch upon are augmented by his diphanous, sometimes soaring iteration of new-wave/post-post-punk tinged indie-pop; not too far removed from that of Craft Spells, the band he was a member of while he was still in high school. The music is as deeply textured as it is deeply personal.
After utilizing a full band and all the amenities of the world-famous Hall of Justice studio alongside producer Chris Walla for last year's Something Familiar, Michel went back to the familar route of recording new album Halve by himself (though not in the walk-in closet he recorded his 2015 self-titled debut). By the sounds of the first single from this new effort, "Inside Illumination," it doesn't sound minimal or stripped for parts; the simply melodic synths beam and meld seamlessly with the effortlessly brightly melancholy guitar line. Michel sings of the unknown frontier that is self-discovery; the uncertainty that lies with that search for who you really are.
Michel speaks with us about "Inside Illumination" and Halve below.
KEXP: At what point in the recording process did you realize you were writing an album?
Peter Michel: I knew that Halve was going to be a full length before I even started writing the first song. Albums have always resonated with me more than EPs or singles; there’s more room to tell an in-depth story within the composition, & the lyrics hold a larger capacity of information to revisit and pick apart.
Could you tell us a little bit about the themes of the song, or what it means to you?
In "Inside Illumination," I call on my mentality to remember the infliction that is a direct result of habitual ambivalence. In my life, I have been constantly looking for evidence of who I am, and as a result, a large part of my identity now revolves around the very fear that I will never find myself.
Was there any point while recording the songs for Halve that felt different from recording Something Familiar or anything previous to it?
The recording process for Halve vs. Something Familiar was different in almost every way. For Something Familiar, I went into the studio with a full band and recorded everything live alongside a producer. This was a really special experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but my perfectionism got in the way quite a lot, and I never felt like the album was 100% finished. For Halve, I wrote, recorded, and produced the album all by myself; mostly in Discovery Park and at my parents house on Echo Lake. I was able to spend months of meticulous editing every day & night while not having to worry about money burning away, & the result is a piece of introspective art that I believe in more than anything before it.
At what point did you realize "Inside Illumination" would be the first single from Halve? What did you find to be special about it to the point where you knew this would be the initial thing people heard from the album?
When I wrote the main hook for the song, it ended up being stuck in my head all week, which is a very rare thing to happen to me with my own melodies. I think it’s a really graspable song that will hopefully be quick to stick with people, and I like that it thematically sets the tone and energy for the album in a different way than the “Intro.”
Halve will be released July 26th via Barsuk Records. Stream "Inside Illumination" below.
Hibou, the moniker of Seattle songwriter Peter Michel, returns with a new LP entitled Something Familiar out March 2 via Barsuk Records. The album follows up on the project's 2015 self-titled debut, which Michel recorded in a walk-in closet. This time around he's recorded with a full-band at Chri...
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