Interview with Mr Missy

You have described your fantastic new album, Looking For You, as “the true story of one man not realizing what he was looking for was right in front of him.” Is this a reference to your own life, or does it take inspiration from something else (a film/novel)?

I would have to say that about halfway through the project I realized that this blend of old songs I had kicking around and the new one’s I was writing specifically inspired by Missy started to shape into a loose story of my journey through life. From the day I first met Missy back in college to present day all in under forty minutes!

What was important to me was that all of the players on the album had a connection to Missy separate from myself. For example, at different times both engineer and co producer Rick Salt and bass player Todd Sacerty had been room mates with Missy in our salad days. Missy had been a concert promoter at our home club The Queen’s Hotel in Nanaimo, BC so thankfully our friends in common happen to be some very good musicians and artists.

Where does the alter ego Mr Missy originate from?

Missy and I and some friends were out for dinner and drinks one night early on in our courtship. We had known each other as friends for a long time and had recently reconnected. Missy has some challenges with allergies so her food is usually separate from everyone else’s . When the food came out, her chopsticks had been marked Missy. My chopsticks were labelled Mr Missy. Our friends found this hilarious and so it stuck. You are what you is. As far as any deeper meaning, it reminds me that I represent not only myself when I’m playing these songs or music in general but that I must honour my muse. Also, I believe there is a balance between the masculine and feminine that should be observed in art.

Did growing up as an army brat and experiencing various locales influence your musical upbringing and influences notably?

I think my childhood of going to seven different elementary schools all across Canada from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island with stops in between taught me that, for the most part, people everywhere are the same. They all want the same things in life. That and diplomacy. Always being the new kid, I quickly learned how to make friends and how to deal with bullies. I’m sure those experiences help in producing music and being a band leader.

What’s your favorite venue to perform at?

It’s hard to beat a big festival stage but I’m trying to break into the house concert scene. Something about coming into a town and stepping into someone’s parlour and sharing the experience of music appeals to me.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

My job as a writer is to capture songs, not create them. I truly feel that songs are floating around and we as writers are tasked to uncover and find them. Obviously songwriting is a craft that takes hard work and commitment but music is everywhere if you know how to look for it. So quite the opposite. Being open at all times to the possibility of finding or allowing a song to show itself rather than trying to create one out of thin air is how I try to approach songwriting.

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

I’m really digging the young bluegrass folks and authentic country performers like Molly Tuttle and Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives. Larkin Poe are amazing. I’ve always loved the female voice and loud guitars. Here at home in Canada The Beaches rock out and I don’t know many bands more talented than Walk Off The Earth that Missy turned me on to. I could go on and on. I’ve always got Thelonious Monk or Steve Earle ( and his son Justin ) close by. I’ve revisited one of my favourite blues bands The Paladins from San Diego, California lately. They used to come through town way back when and I never missed a show. Anything by my all time favourite band NRBQ.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

That’s a pretty tough question. John Lennon comes to mind but that might be too daunting ! I suppose if I had to pick just one it would be NRBQ. The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet for your younger readers once known as the greatest bar band in the land. To be dropped into that band in the early 80s on the road for a couple of months would have been epic. They wouldn’t have to change the letters of the name. The New Rhythm and Blues Quintet ! Their motto was Anything , Anywhere, Anytime and they lived up to it every night.

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

For me the most satisfying part of being an artist is when people in the audience are singing along with you. Not just the chorus but the words to the entire song and they’re with you in that moment. That is such an incredible compliment. The song resonated enough with them that they know the words and the song becomes just as much theirs as it is mine. That will never get old.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

What isn’t a challenge these days? For me personally it happens to be social media and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that people are potentially more interested in my daily tragicomedies than my music per se. The cult of personality rather than the actual music.
I do feel terrible for all the younger artists just coming up that have no places to play and figure it out in front of live audiences. The tier of the music business where you could scrape out a living touring regionally before anyone had heard of you has vanished it seems.

What’s upcoming for the project?

We have a performance video for the song The Story coming out this summer that we recorded before the album came out. Most of the folks on the album are playing with me and it was a lot of fun. I’m planning on playing some solo acoustic gigs for a while coming up later this summer and hopefully it will be in the cards to tour western Canada in the fall.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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