Windsor’s Princes of Pop Michou take home XM Radio’s Artist of the Year
If anyone has exemplified Windsor tenacity over the past few years in the music scene (with the exception maybe of Orphan Choir), it’s Michou. This impish quartet (formerly a five-piece) has produced infectiously enveloping pop music that you either instantly loathe or are immediately smitten by. Fortunately for the boys from Windsor, it’s mostly the latter. The aforementioned tenacity shines through whenever you bump into one of the four – multi-instrumentalist Sasha Appler, percussionist Stefan Cvetkovic, bassist Ryan Firth and singer/guitarist Michael Hargreaves – following one of their extended tours across Canada. Their eyes are a mixture of exhaustion, frustration, excitement and wonder. The hardships of independently sending themselves across Canada coast to coast touring and sharing the stage with bands from Death Cab For Cutie and Dashboard Confessional to tours with San Sebastian and their upcoming jaunt with USS, may be physically exhausting them, but nothing is too hard of a sacrifice to continue to follow their dreams of playing the music they love with the band mates they love for the fans that they love.
Their kinship with their audience is as genuine as it gets, as they’ve been a homegrown band to almost every scene they infiltrate on their tours. In many of these cities and small towns, they started in house shows and grew to playing venues like the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on more than one occasion. Their fans have watched them blossom from a rosy cheeked five piece (with former multi-instrumentalist Ryan Ard) to feel good popsmiths who now play the bars and clubs they’re slowly becoming legal to finally see them in. Then they get to follow them to bigger venues with national acts. It’s a perfectly symbiotic process of admiration, from artist to audience.
They’ve put on countless free shows for charity and friends, given away unreleased tracks to their fans, and worked social media to be as much a part of the band process as listening to their music. They’ve made Michou more than an entity – they’ve made it a community.
Which is why it’s no surprise that Michou took home the 2011 XM Radio Verge Artist of the Year award this year (voted on by XM listeners and music fans), beating out fellow nominees Tegan & Sara, Stars, Zeus, The Zolas and a small band from Montreal you may have heard of, recent Grammy winner Arcade Fire (they’re latest album, Cardona, was a finalist for Album of the Year but lost out to Zeus). This award comes with more than just prestige and bragging rights – there’s a nice $25,000 financial award. Which will sure make the next tour just a little bit more comfortable.
But if I know the guys in Michou, they’ll probably spend more of that money on recording than upgrading their tour patterns. Something tells me they’d rather write the perfect pop song than eat caviar. And hey. Cold pizza and beer is a great motivator.
They’re heading back out again soon in support of their new EP, Celebrate Love, which is available today in iTunes (preview the full EP on Much Music’s webpage here), including a stop in Toronto this July as part of Edgefest 2011, on a bill with Rise Against, A Perfect Circle, The Weakerthans, Arkells, Tokyo Police Club, The Reason and more.
Congrats boys. You deserve all you get.
Here’s the first single, released last November, off the EP.