Emerging out of the haze of his earlier jazz-folk compositions, Michiel has reworked his musical landscape to depict a fresh kind of artistry. Michiel’s voice has carried through into a more contemporary sound – an instrument inseparable from his appeal. Vic Galloway (BBC Radio Scotland) has previously praised Michiel as “the future John Martyn [...] with supreme talent”, although it’s clear that Michiel has urged forth a new kind of futurity that eclipses his acoustic roots. His first single under this refigured banner, ‘Henri Bergson’, is aptly named after a philosopher that unravelled ideas around time and duration. It delicately entangles Michiel’s distinctive voice, modular piano synthesisers, looping percussion and lo-fi guitar, the latter gently referencing his passion for jazz phrasings. His second single, 'Retrospect', reimagines Michiels folk roots through its striated vocal harmonies, contributing to an overall ambience that feels different to 'Henri Bergson'. Michiel has performed at venues and festivals across Scotland, supporting renowned songwriters, Blue Rose Code, Adam Holmes and Tom Walker. He has also appeared on STV’s show Live at Five. His latest single, ‘Drown me’, features a melancholic narrative spun across rhythmic textures of vocals and guitar.
Collaborating member, Alice Hill-Woods, talks to Michiel about his visions for anam creative, solo work and inspirations.
AHW: How would you describe your vision for anam creative?
MT: I founded anam creative in July 2020 with support from the Nurturing Talent - Time to Shine Fund. Initially, my aim was to create an online collaboration platform for musicians and artists based in Scotland. I started by working with some friends to create music together remotely, treating it as quite an experimental process. Since then, my vision for anam has kind of changed; I’ve become less interested in the potentially commercial aspects and more interested in the developmental and communal opportunities, which I’m glad about as I’ve recently seen a few other platforms come out that are more aimed at selling creative services.
I want anam to be a body that facilitates new projects between talented young artists based in Scotland, who are keen to create shared success through their collective efforts... hopefully this will lead to some income for the collaborators, of course.
AHW: Which artists inspire you?
MT: There are so many! My guilty (but not-so-guilty) pleasure is Ben Howard. I’ve been a fan since I was around 14, so over ten years. I love John Martyn and Nick Drake, of course – all of these songwriters inspired me when I was starting out. Now, I’m listening to jazz and soul more, so I'm listening to people like Lianne La Havas, Puma Blue and Nick Hakim. I also love neo-soul and I’m big into Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper and D’Angelo. Daniel Caesar and Hiatus Kaiyote must also be mentioned.
And then there are the guitarists – to name a few, John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Joe Pass, Emily Remler.
'Drown me', artwork by Alice Hill-Woods
AHW: Tell us something about your new and upcoming releases.
MT: Last December, I released my debut single, ‘Henri Bergson’, which has done quite well on Spotify, and since then I’ve released two more tracks. Most recently, I released my track ‘Drown me’, which is a thought process put into music. I also recently collaborated with [Alice Hill-Woods] to create a music video which has been really cool. The music I’ve released so far is kind of melancholic and lo-fi, with elements of folk and jazz. I’ve been taking quite an experimental approach to my work, but I’m hoping to refine this a bit more. I just attended an incredible songwriting course called Bird on the Wire, run by Finlay Napier and Boo Hewerdine, so I’ve got some new ideas and I’m planning to record an EP in the coming months.
AHW: What difference do you aspire to make in the creative industries?
MT: With anam creative, I’m interested in creating opportunities for other young musicians based in Scotland. I feel like there are so many talented people here and there’s so much potential, especially through collaboration and peer support. As I’ve got older, I’ve become more interested in the notion of community, so I guess I’d like to promote these aspects by including community arts in my practice!
AHW: What are the ups and downs of collaborative projects?
MT: For me, the downs are that it’s tough to get stuff on the go as people have other commitments, which is fair, but the ups far outweigh these. You can get insight into a new way of working and, if you’re open, you can learn new things and expand your practice. You can also engage with other people to create incredible work by combining your strengths and discussing your visions.
AHW: What does your creative process involve?
MT: My process is pretty open. Most of the time it's a late night and I’m feeling the creative energy flowing! At the moment, I use Ableton to sketch out ideas and mess about with structures, then I’ll just start a session by recording different parts and experimenting with sounds. Recently, I’ve been trying to get back to the pen and paper though, as I feel there’s something more natural with that way of working. You’re less plugged in and more in tune with what you’re feeling and trying to say. When creating with other artists, I often work as a producer and instrumentalist and I try to think less about what I want to play and more about what will work with the artist I’m collaborating with.