by Gil Carroll
Micah Erenberg has been a staple in the Winnipeg music scene for more than half a decade. More impressively, he is only 21 years old. As a result of his unique, heartwarming, and often witty songwriting talents and lovable performance style, he is playing multiple shows every week at every venue imaginable in the city and beyond (lots in Gimli). Fans of Micah’s range from toddlers to those in their golden years. Winnipeg has been lucky to have him be so active on the scene, including hosting a night at the former Rose N Bee Pub, performing at Rainbow Trout, Real Love Winnipeg events and even a beyond memorable set on the rooftop of deer + almond last year. Stylus wanted to find out some crucial facts about such an integral piece of the Winnipeg scene.
Stylus: You have been writing and recording music in Manitoba since you were an early teen, how did your music career start off?
Micah Erenberg: My first show was June 2007, an audition at the Times Change(d) for the Trout Forest music fest. I was 14 and in a duo with Alexander Bonsor called New Slang. We got the audition and played at trout that August, which is where I met Dan Frechette, Tim Butler, Andrew Neville, Matt Foster, Jesse Matas, Twisty Fodey, and Jaxon Haldane (from what I can remember). They accepted me into the music scene with open arms. Jaxon even loaned me a banjo after the fest that I still have. I attribute these meetings to my mother (who told me about the audition), and Devin Latimer, the artistic director who accepted us.
Stylus: You are at the end of the day, a songwriter, who are your biggest songwriting influences?
ME: A lot of the musicians I met at that festival and have met since are my biggest songwriting influences. If I were to respond with just people I don’t know (Townes Van Zandt, Elliott Smith, Jeff Tweedy, Gram Parsons, Dan Reeder, Hank Williams, Daniel Romano, M.Ward, etc), then I would be solely talking about the influence from music I like listening to, and have listened to a lot. However, where a lot of my influence comes from, and primarily my motivation to write songs comes from, are the other songwriters and creators that are around me. A few names I would like to mention in that respect (not including the people form Trout, who all make the list) are Kieran West, Logan McKillop, Blair Atkinson, Richard Inman, Railroad Tye, Lizzy Burt, BJ Garrison, Kade Reimer, The Revival, Scott Nolan, Romi Mayes, TJ Blair, Grant Davidson. The list goes on. And especially all of the people I have had the pleasure of being band mates with. It’s a long list, and I could go longer, but that just shows how tight knit and supportive the Manitoba music scene is. Especially Andrew Neville. Go see him on Wednesday nights.
Stylus: You have tons of songs up on bandcamp, what is your recording process like?
ME: Lackluster. There is almost no method. Analog is preferable. A Tascam 1442 Portastudio is my current weapon of choice, though I’d love to try something bigger. When digital is required there is never peaking (-18 db average), and there is a lot of comping (slicing multiple takes together to make one good take). Usually I put down a guitar take first, then vocals, then harmony, then additional instruments. I only use a click when it’s needed. Currently I use Logic Pro with a Universal Audio Device. I strongly endorse Universal Audio. All my recording is done randomly, as I am not one to be motivated without inspiration, and so if you listen to anything of mine online you’ll notice that a lot of it is done with a MacBook Pro mic, an acoustic guitar, and a lot of GarageBand distortion.
Stylus: Who are some Canadian artists you are excited about?
ME: Daniel Romano and his Trilliums Band, Corb Lund (and his guitar player), Ingrid Gatin, Zachary Lucky, Sarah Jane Scouten, Kristen Berkel, Scott Nolan, Railroad Tye. I am excited about these people because they are always working, always playing, recording or on the road, and writing the whole time. They are influences but also people who I know will find much success spanning over long careers in music.
Stylus: Do you have any tour plans or releases slated?
ME: Yes. Nothing is on paper yet but some things will start happening soon. A series of live videos is the first thing that will come, a few short tours are in mind but nothing planned, and hopefully a release of something that isn’t a demo by early 2015.
Stylus: What is the best part of being a musician in Manitoba?
ME: The weather, of course. That is the best part of doing anything in Manitoba.
Check out a flurry of Micah’s old recordings online at micahrephael.bandcamp.com and see him live in any weather.