Do you ever rehearse a conversation in your head that you’ll probably never have?
My name is Mike Haggith. I’m an indie/alternative artist with countless albums under my belt, and stories to tell. Today, I’ve got one for you.
Imagine being 18 and setting off for a place where no one knows your name, landing in a place where the only thing familiar is your dream. That was me, stepping out of the car and touching the ground of Sault Ste Marie for the first time. I had just relocated from Windsor, Ontario. It was 2010 and I looked like McLovin from Superbad, so at least I had that going for me.
Penelope Arvanitakis and I go way back to 2005. I would spot her at open mics in mysterious and leafy Belgrave, the creative centre of the Melbourne hills, and simply marvel at her talent. The cadence of her voice was like no other, her piano playing was so highly advanced for one so young, and her songs were quirky, honest and deep. She was a cut above the rest.
In 2007 we recorded three songs together at her parents’ house, one of mine and two of hers, and then … we promptly fell out of touch for 16 years!
My story starts with my Mexican parents. They eloped from Mexico City then had me in Los Angeles. Their early gift to me was a stand-up piano for kids. According to my mom, I spent most of my time on it, writing songs and playing them over and over. When I was a teenager, I was the frontwoman in a punk/indie cover band, then played in a few post-rock bands. I became obsessed with the label Thrill Jockey, and moved to Chicago because they were based there. My sister was my biggest champion—she accompanied me on the long drive. Even though she slept most of the time in the passenger seat, her love and support meant the world to me.
I remember when I first started the OctoMusic project; I was still playing in my previous band back in 2017-2018. I was kind of tired of playing in that four-piece format, and I just felt we weren’t moving the whole thing forward, so that was the perfect time for me to start working on my own thing. I began releasing different singles and working with a couple of other musicians. When you do everything by yourself, it is very challenging as you have to establish your own deadlines and you have nobody to share the workload with, like when you are in a band, but it’s also very comforting as you can produce your music with much more depth.
I’d never been to Louisiana, never seen New Orleans, never been out on the Bayou. It was May of 2021 and here I was driving in the middle of the night to a town called Breaux Bridge, out past Baton Rouge, deep in the middle of rural Louisiana farmlands—what they call “Cajun country.” I arrived at a big, rundown house and was greeted by Mark, the producer of my new record (released Feb 11 2022 on Dream Puppy Records). We had only communicated by email and text up til this point and now here he was—grinning, talking a mile-a-minute, introducing me to the semi-stray cats, describing the armadillos that would come around if he left the cat food out over night in the garage: “nasty fuckers.”
Music has always been said to be a universal language, but I don’t agree. Music has as many meanings as people who listen to it. What for us can be a sad melody, for someone from the other side of the world, it can be the happiest of songs, that’s why I refuse to believe that music is universal. However, I don’t think this is a problem, but an advantage to be able to communicate with ourselves. Art shows us the reality that we need to see.
The album costs 3 euro, but took 18 years to make, of course, not continuous 18 years, but I wouldn’t record such music without living my life as I did since 2002 when I started recording cassette tapes with my friend in a high rise block in Poznań, Poland. The block’s address was 93-105. So, now you all know what „planet 93-105” means. And high rise blocks are really like separate planets, at least in Poland…
And cassettes are beautiful items, surviving years and owners, and „93-105” is now not only my block’s address, an imaginary planet, and album title, but also a beautiful cassette released with Illuminated Paths, USA, and this full circle of space and tapes, and my life April-July 2020 is what this story is all about a sound story. A sound story best experienced on cassette.
So go grab a copy of „93-105”, and feel like it’s 2002 in a Poznań, Poland high rise block, or elsewhere in the galaxy, wherever imagination takes you… this cassette is yours, not mine, now. And 18 years are gone, but it feels like light years…
My somewhat modest success in the good ol’ music biz came rather late in life, and almost completely by accident. Although, having said that, a lot of hard work had gone into making that accident happen.