Michael Feuerstack – Moving Out of the House

Image by Scott Da Ros, supplied by the artist.
Image by Scott Da Ros, supplied by the artist.

Nicholas Friesen @Nicholastronaut Originally published October 16, 2013 in The Uniter.

If you don’t know Michael Feuerstack’s name, it’s likely because he’s been hiding out in such projects as The Luyas and Bell Orchestre, but mostly because he’s been making sardonic (yet hopeful) music as Snailhouse since 1994.

This spring saw the release of Tambourine Death Bed, a sparse, beautiful, home recorded LP released under the artist’s own name.

“It has changed dramatically but it hasn’t been abrupt,” Feuerstack, on the phone from Whitehorse, says of the change in musical direction. “I think you just look back and say ‘whatever this is now, it’s different than it was back then’ and you take time to acknowledge that.

“The biggest thing for me was like a personal challenge. For me it was really fun to break free with a clean slate. I have a whole new set of music when I’m playing shows, I don’t really play the Snailhouse material. I’m not against it, but for me it’s a nice challenge. It’s been really fun and creatively enriching for me to just start from zero.”

The artist isn’t putting an end to the Snailhouse name or ruling out playing songs from its seven official releases just yet, though.

“Next year is gonna be the Snailhouse 20th anniversary so I think I would like to acknowledge that in some way, too,” he says. “Probably do a string of concerts with some of the longtime collaborators. Play some of the, for lack of a better word, hits.”

Another reason for the name change is the fact that this is the first time Feuerstack self-produced a recording at home.

“It was a huge, liberating milestone,” he says. “Having said that, I think there’s a lot of reasons to go into a proper studio and I’m definitely not going to make every record in this way, but this is one way in which making a record has been extremely rewarding.”

Never one to sit idle, the musician is currently in the Yukon working on a collaborative LP with such musicians as Shotgun Jimmie, Marine Dreams and Wax Mannequin (among others), as well as visual artist Shary Boyle. He’s also writing and producing an album for Headless Owl Records which will find other artists handling the vocals.

“I’m relatively friendly and I like making music,” he says with a laugh. “Writing and producing all these tracks that I’m getting other people to sing on has been really fun for me.”

With all of these collaborations, the name change, and the upcoming Snailhouse 20th anniversary, it’s put Feuerstack in a reflective sort of mood – resulting in a pretty comprehensive new website, michaelfeuerstack.com, as well as his back catalogue finding a new listenership via Bandcamp.

“I haven’t really looked back at much of my resume, so that was really fun to compile,” Feuerstack says.

But it’s this new record that really seems to be driving him forward, even if he is incredibly self deprecating about its success (and what success means in 2013).

“I’ve played a lot of really good shows since the record came out in May,” he says. “I think people have been buying it and talking about it a little bit. I don’t know how to talk about it in terms other than anything I expected, which was to put out a record and for some people to listen to it.”

Visit michaelfeuerstack.com for more information.