Home for the Curious Musician

Mike Evin’s Music for Old Souls

Mike Evin just released a new single.

Most people don’t know Mike Evin. He’s a quiet, strange, talented Canadian who basically loves music and people and works just hard enough to keep those two things close to him, without making too big a fuss…

I know Mike Evin, though. In fact, he was the first person I ever officially opened for, eleven years ago in the cat urine-scented basement of a Montréal soup kitchen. I’m pretty sure I only made ten flyers, by hand, and left them around my college campus, not having a clue that that was basically pointless. But it was a fun night, and Mike and I became pals.

So when I found his new music video, “Have I Ever Loved?” I decided to say hello and ask if he could share some thoughts on some of my favorite songs of his.

“Have I Ever Loved?” features an amazing cast of elderly folks and couples singing along to the lyrics, clapping in time, dancing and ostensibly reminiscing about their family memories, etc. They are having a blast!

Those who know Mike Evin know that he’s a bit obsessed with old people. In fact, he wrote a tune some years ago about a hypothetical afternoon with his future wife in which they are tenderly aged and taking things pretty slowly, called “Wait For The Tea To Steep”.

Mike said of the song, “I hadn’t been in a serious relationship up until that point, so I was trying my best to imagine what it would be like to be middle-aged and married.”

He sings with a kind of Ben Folds/Jon Brion sincerity from his seat at the piano bench. That video being shot in someone’s living room makes a lot of sense. The lamplighting, the tchotchkes on the mantle and fading daylight out the window offer that familiar context that his music shares.

Then there’s this diddy, which Evin basically came up with on the spot after looking at a 65 year-old group photo. He laments about wishing he could go back in time to meet Evelyn Wilson Rose, the woman who appears in the photo, just to see what her world was like in 1944. He told me that in writing this piece, he tried to put himself “in the shoes of some older man who has some fondness for her – perhaps an old boyfriend who still has the photo.”

This song is a dive into the deep end of somebody’s life many years ago, and reminds me of Great Lakes Myth Society’s track “Marquette County, 1959” in a lot of very understandable ways. But as historical as the subject matter is, Mike wrote the whole song in a day. It came out of a series of experiments in quick, unedited songwriting that he filmed as a way of exercising his creative muscles and training his ego to accept imperfect songwriting.

“It really helped my creative flow,” he admitted, “there’s something really beautiful about writing a song just to write a song, with no motive of making it the ‘best’ song there is. These ‘songs for a song’s sake’ always have a spirit to them.”

His music has a certain aged spirit to it, and yet Evin actually says of his new single, “even though the video focuses on the seniors, the song really is written from my own perspective—but it’s really cool that people of all ages can relate.”

In a musical era when everything seems like its speeding up, releases are quicker, streaming technology is faster and so are the BPMs, one dude is trying to slow everything down to granny speed. And it’s pretty funky down there, I must admit.

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Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic "concrète" music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.