How 24,000 horsepower helped fuel Danny Michel's latest album

Danny Michel sails to Canada's most northern parts to capture the beauty of the arctic in his latest album, Khlebnikov.
Canadian musician and producer Danny Michel. (Courtesy of Danny Michel)

Canadian musician and producer Danny Michel's twelfth album wasn't recorded in a typical studio. Michel traveled aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov, a 24,000 horsepower Soviet icebreaker, to some of Canada's most northern parts to record his latest collection of songs. On a mission to pay tribute to the beauty and fragility of our planet, Michel set up a make-shift studio in his cabin aboard the ship. "The bedroom was two beds and a studio," explains Michel, who used bathrobes for damping the sound.

Musician Danny Michel's makeshift recording studio aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov icebreaker. (Danny Michel)

His new album, Khlebnikov, is the result of a mission initiated by astronaut Chris Hadfield. "The goal was for all of us to go up there, experience the arctic and to come back and share it with the rest of the world," explains Michel of Hadfield's Generator Arctic project. The trip was eighteen days long, so Michel challenged himself to write a collection of songs. "I can write more than one song in eighteen days," Michel admits, so he figured he would make an album instead.

Musician Danny Michel with guest host Chris dela Torre. (Olivia Pasquarelli/CBC)

The new record features the vocals of Hadfield along with the ship's team of Russian dishwashers. In the evenings, Michel would sit and drink with the crew. "Chris speaks fluent Russian," explains Michel, so they decided to collaborate with the dishwashers and record an old Russian folk song. In the new take, Michel sings the English translation of the Russian lyrics sung by Hadfield and the crew.

Michel says, "it changed my life to see this small corner of our planet that so few people get to see." As each song fades into the next, Michel hopes people will listen to the album in its entirety and feel the arctic's beauty.

You can see Danny Michel's full arctic itinerary here

Listen to select songs from Danny Michel's new record Khlebnikov out January 20, 2017 here. He will perform the entire album with a chamber orchestra including Chris Hadfield in Toronto on February 24, 2017 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre. 


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