Under their Boniface moniker, Canada’s Micah Visser creates rich, melody-packed tunes dripping with vulnerability and warmth. They're proper lovely - a good bop, too - and right now, as you're reading this, there's a whole debut album full of them ready and waiting to take over your headphones. Micah tells us more.
Hey Micah, how's it going? Are you having a good year so far?
Hi! Yeah, it's been so nice, thanks.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician, did you have a musical upbringing?
No, it happened very accidentally. I've always loved making music, recording it, performing it, but never thought I'd be doing it this seriously. From playing violin as a kid, to recording songs in my bedroom in high school, to finishing up the Boniface record a few months ago, I've always just had this compulsive need to figure out what makes music so powerful and do that. A blessing and a curse maybe.
Which bands or artists meant most to you growing up?
Love Bright Eyes, love Joni Mitchell, love Leonard Cohen. They were all really important to me at different stages in my life, and I think they've influenced my songwriting a lot.
What was it like spending your early years in Winnipeg, how has it impacted your worldview?
Winnipeg is a really special place, but can also be a really hard place to be. We have a lot of urban sprawl, and it gets so cold. I think a lot of people feel trapped here and I have definitely felt that too. I do think there is a resilience here and growing up around that gave me a really strong affection and admiration for people just doing their best. I write about that a lot and think it's really beautiful.
Has being a musician lived up to the hype so far?
I mean, yeah. Haha. It truly is my favourite thing to do and always has been. So now, having the chance to share my music on a larger scale is just so surreal and something I'm very grateful for.
How did you develop your sound? Have you always been travelling down this path?
At first, I wrote this whispery acoustic stuff, which was a great way to hone my songwriting, but when I started playing shows with a band things changed. We had a few more uptempo tracks, and I got hooked on the energy. Getting a crowd going and really going for something. Since then, I've mostly written songs that mean something to me, but will be fun to play and fun to hear live for the first time.
Tell us about your debut album, when did you begin working on it? Has there been a steep learning curve?
I've been working on this record for so long. Some of the songs are over five years old. It truly is every experience I had growing up condensed into a 45-minute record. Going from just writing these songs to play them with my friends years ago to actually finishing it last summer has been a really long road and there has been a steep learning curve, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out.
How did you end up finishing the record in London? It's a long way from Canada.
The band and I have been working out of the UK a lot. It's unconventional, but we've had some fun tours there, I love the scene, and I love the energy. Neil Comber did some mixes for me, and I loved his ear, so when the time came to finish the record I came to his studio with a bunch of tracks I'd recorded in my little home studio, and we finished them together.
It sounds like it's an incredibly personal record, are you nervous about laying yourself bare?
Good question. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Sometimes it gets really hard, but I really want my music to be something real and different, and I think part of that is laying it all down.
What's your songwriting process like?
I just do what makes me excited. I write a lot on piano, guitar, do a lot of writing on my laptop. Anything can work, whatever helps me get the feeling down.
How does listening back to the album make you feel?
I feel really at peace when I listen to it now. It was such a long process and one that was really hard on me sometimes, but when I listen to it I know, I didn't cut corners, didn't go halfway, didn't accept something I wasn't genuinely pumped on. Obviously, it's not perfect, but it is truly the best I could do at this point in my life, and that makes me feel content.
Do you have high hopes for 2020?
I have high hopes, but I'm not taking anything for granted. I know how lucky I've been already to make this record. I want it to reach people because I think it can be a genuinely positive thing for them, but I'm just happy to have had some good times and hope there's more of that in 2020.
Boniface's self-titled debut album is out 14th February.