Owls are mythical creatures. They are solitary and nocturnal beasts, often associated with various folklores that depict them as keepers of wisdom and sacred knowledge. Like these rulers of the night, singer and songwriter Peter Michel does best on his own. He finds himself at his most creative alone, in the dark, at twilight. Oh, and his stage name? Hibou — the French word for the bird.
“I think over the past few years that I’ve been working on Hibou, I’ve just realized more and more how much better I work as kind of a loner, if you will,” the Seattle native explains. “Things just make sense for me a lot more when I’m in my own little world.”
After leaving his former band Craft Spells due to feeling artistically stifled by music that wasn’t completely his, Michel shut himself away in the walk-in closet of his studio apartment and began experimenting with different sounds on his computer — the end result culminating in his 2013 EP, Dune. Now, Michel is about to release his self-titled debut full length and, staying true to his creative process, he finished the record in the seclusion of his bedroom at his parents’ house.
“I’m way more comfortable recording in a room and writing in a room. Then I can take my time, take a nap if I need to, make some cheeseburgers or something,” he laughs. “Just relax. I’ve tried to record in studios before and it’s just too stressful. You can always tell when a record is forced.”
When it comes to songwriting, Michel’s approach is just as peaceful. For his latest effort, he sourced words from past journal entries, poems, and lyrics he had written over time, while also re-working a handful of cuts from Dune. “It never really feels like a sit down and write a song take to the writing process,” he says. “It’s just kind of a collection — a patchwork.”
If “Dissolve,” the first single released off the album, is anything to go by, the record is going to be a good one. Spilling over with dreamy washes and luminescent guitar, “Dissolve” is a beautifully crafted slice of post-punk that borders along the lines of progressive rock. The ethereal nature of the track is an accurate reflection of Michel’s mystique, especially when taking into account one of his favourite places to get inspired: Discovery Park, along the shores of Puget Sound.
“The melodies come to me there and then solidify later in the evening. Sometimes I can spend eight hours there and just draw a blank,” he muses. “I think there’s something that that park offers that’s just super special, that I could never explain.”
Hibou performs (fittingly) at Electric Owl on August 20. His debut full length is to be released on September 18.