Mike Petkau Falk, far right, with Les Jupes (Mats Bakken)
If I write a melody or a chord progression or something that makes me think of another song then I toss it immediately. I have a really fierce drive to be original.
—Mike Petkau Falk, singer-songwriter
He's a guitarist, a producer, owner of a record company and his voice is unmistakable.
But Mike Petkau Falk wasn't always so confident about his low, baritone voice. "Years and years ago when I sang in some choirs, I really felt awkward," he admits. "It was a little unruly and I couldn't sing the sweet dulcet tones that some of my other friends could so it took some time to learn how to use it the way it wants to be used."
Petkau Falk started on piano, tried trumpet in school band, got into drums, then guitar. "I always really wanted to be a drummer" he says. "But I think like most drummers, you end up as guitar players and most guitar players end up as drummers."
He was always searching for something different, something unique. "I had friends that were always learning cover songs and that didn't interest me at all," he recalls. "I was more interested in exploring, trying to find different chords and sticking them together in weird ways, seeing what would happen melodically and lyrically."
That search for a unique sound defines Petkau Falk's band, Les Jupes. The music on the band's new EP, Negative Space, is complex and unconventional. The listener has to work a bit to understand and appreciate it. And it's well worth that effort.
"I have a really quick knee jerk reaction against anything that I've heard before," explains Petkau Falk. "If I write a melody or a chord progression or something that makes me think of another song then I toss it immediately. I have a really fierce drive to be original."
This work ethic extends to all the work he does, with Les Jupes and also as producer with other bands as well. He even started his own record company, Head in the Sand Records (Old Folks Home, Yes We Mystic, Demetra, Royal Canoe).
Mike maintains that to be a successful artist you also have to be a successful business person. "You have to know the business well enough and be hands on enough or else it's never gonna work," he maintains. "Otherwise your ability to grow is going to be limited, your ability to manage growth is going to be limited and so I think it's really important that musicians learn those skills."