Interview | HIBOU

 Photo: Amber Zbitoff

Photo: Amber Zbitoff

Seattle's Peter Michel records dreamy, intricate, youthful pop sounds as Hibou; we were lucky enough to ask him some questions as he passed through our neck of the woods. 

First off, you hail from a city that has been hugely influential in terms of its contributions to music, what has it been like to grow up in the Seattle scene?

It's been lovely. In a lot of big cities it feels like there's this intense competition with local artists and bands, but in Seattle it truly feels as if nearly everyone is there to support and encourage each other. Because of this I've had the chance to play with some of my favorite musicians ever, meet extraordinary people, and be where I'm at now.

Who are some of your biggest influences past or present from the Seattle area?

Nirvana, Jimmy , Bod , Fleet Foxes.

There’s a definite 80s feel to your music, where did the inspiration for your current sound come from?

That's always a tricky question. It's not as if I sat down and said to myself that I was going to write 80s inspired music, and while I do love all the bands that Hibou gets compared to - The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division - they were never really as big a part of my life as I think I convinced myself they were. These are just the songs and sounds that came out when I sat down in my bedroom and started recording. The influences are there for sure, but in retrospect they're maybe more subconscious than I thought.

Care to elaborate on the song “Eleanor” and the meaning behind it?

Sure. I feel like a lot of people assume Eleanor is a love song because it is named after my girlfriend. It's really about the bitter sweetness in the end of all things, and what comfort people can give each other despite being surrounded with sadness and sorrow. In this instance it happens to be a song dedicated to Eleanor.

Are you currently in the process of writing your second LP?

I am, I am. I don't really think of it in terms of writing my second LP, the thought kind of throws me off. To me, I'm just writing a lot of songs that will come together at some point to be on an album.

 Photo: sfweekly

Photo: sfweekly

 Photo: Evan Henry

Photo: Evan Henry

Let’s talk touring. You’ve been on the road for some time. Now that you’ve had the chance to promote your self-titled LP by touring has your relationship with the songs on that album changed?

My relationship with the songs has changed a lot. After performing them so many times, it's become essential for me to change the way they're played live to keep them exciting to me.

And how have you done that?

In many ways. First I added backing tracks, then a sampler, then took the tracks away. I’ve gone through a handful of pedals and have had almost an entirely new backing band for every tour. The constant change of the live performance is one of my favorite parts of being a musician.

Continuing on with our theme of the live set, is there a particular song that you especially enjoy playing based on crowd reaction?

'Glow' always seems to get the crowd the most lively, which makes it one of my favorites to play.

These past few years you’ve been on the road touring all over the globe, what have been some of your favourite places to play thus far?

I think back on Italy a lot, I remember the crowds being the loudest and friendliest crowds I had ever heard in my life, and it remains that way. I'm hoping very much to return soon.

Any new places you’ll be visiting on this upcoming tour that you are particularly excited for?

I've never been to SXSW, very intrigued to see how that goes. There are also a handful of cities I haven't ever been to: Pueblo, Colorado Springs ... and I'm really excited to get some sunshine. Seattle had record-breaking rainfall this winter, gimme them rays!

Any strange or hilarious incidents occur while on tour? Strangest tour story?  

It would have to be the time I was persuaded to stomp on a wine glass by two Orthodox Jews in the name of celebration, punctured my shoe/foot, and had to be taken to the hospital before our show.

What’s your favorite food while on tour? You’ve been spotted carrying a pack of ramen noodles on stage in the past… a favorite of yours?  

Haha. Ramen has a way of showing up at most Hibou shows- especially while on tour, it's all I can afford to eat! Occasionally someone will cook The Hibous a meal if we're staying with them. Any home cooked meal is heaven on earth while on the road.

What has it been like to tour with bands like EL VY, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Metric etc.?

Pretty surreal. It's strange to go from playing dinky dive bars to stages like that. I do really enjoy it though, and hope those opportunities keep coming.

Finally, you play Vancouver tomorrow night alongside Seattle band Hey Marseilles, how have past experiences in the Canadian Pacific Northwest city been?    

First off, I adore Vancouver; it's one of my favorite cities. I really hope more people start coming out! Y'all are a lovely bunch, so I'll keep trying my best!


You can catch Hibou live at The Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, Friday March 4th.