Nfld. & Labrador·First Listen

Kelly McMichael lives her dream in more ways than one on her debut solo album

McMichael, originally from Peterborough, Ont., and has performed with Sarah Harmer and Terra Lightfoot. Now, she's preparing to release her debut album, Waves, in her new home of St. John's.

Have a First Listen to Waves by Kelly McMichael

Kelly McMichael, who has played with other bands and artists for years, is releasing her debut solo album, Waves, later this month. (Submitted by Kelly McMichael)

After years of playing with other artists and bands, Kelly McMichael says there were a lot more moving pieces to look after when it came to making her first solo record.

"It's a lot of work. I've been going back and forth doing my own thing and playing with other people, and it's kind of like a nice balance," McMichael told CBC Radio's Weekend AM. "There's so many pieces to be responsible for when it's my own thing. Obviously the artistic fulfilment is pretty nice."

McMichael, originally from Peterborough, Ont., has performed formed with acts like Sarah Harmer and Terra Lightfoot. Now she's preparing to release her debut album, Waves, in her new home of St. John's.

The album symbolizes a transition of sorts for McMichael, who says it moves away from her previously electronic-based projects. It has a guitar-driven sound with strings and a rhythm section made up of St. John's musicians Jake Nicoll and Sarah Harris.

LISTEN | Kelly McMichael speaks with the CBC's Heather Barrett about her newest album, Waves:

McMichael, who came to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013, said she ended up staying after falling in love with the area. She said she also fell for the province's music scene, which provided a reset of her life as a musician in Toronto.

"I'm so grateful for the music scene here. There's so many amazingly talented musicians playing all different styles of music. It seems like the emphasis is more on just, like, music. And the joy of music and community," she said.

"I really found that it took me to a different direction of why I was playing music, and I just started doing it [because it was] just what I wanted to do."

Living the dream

When McMichael began working on her album, she said, she immediately knew the image she wanted on the cover of her vinyl release.

"I had a dream that I wanted to be on a horse for the cover of my album," she said. "It kind of took me so long to record a full-length album, and I always had the dream of wanting to press it onto vinyl."

This is the cover art for Waves. McMichael says she always dreamed of being on a horse on an album cover. (Kelly McMichael/Bandcamp)

Once the idea was in motion, it didn't take long to find a subject thanks to her bandmate Maria Peddle.

"Her uncle ended up having a horse that didn't really do a lot of riding with humans anymore.… So we made it happen," she said.

"It was really cold, and the horse was pretty cranky about and I was a bit nervous. But we pulled it off, and I was super-happy about it. It's just over the top, a little bit ridiculous.… I just really wanted to stand out and look like I was proud of finally conquering this dream of mine."

Waves is being released on May 20.

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You can hear First Listen on Sundays on Weekend AM from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. (5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in Labrador) on CBC Radio One.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM


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