Mikey Swallow is welcoming a new decade with a new album.
The Gabriola Island-based musician released his debut CD, Fortune is the Smile, last month on his 40th birthday, but it’s really a gift to three charities he appreciates.
All proceeds from the album will support one of three organizations: The Orangutan Project, an Australian initiative that protects orangutans and their habitats; Victoria’s Pacific Wild, which works to preserve B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest; and Shark Angels, an American group dedicated to saving sharks.
“After years of being exposed to the struggles of our planet’s creatures and habitat, particularly the ocean, I have been drawn to try in my small way to make a difference and support organizations I see that are doing an excellent job in making a positive impact on these issues,” Swallow said in an e-mail interview.
Fortune is the Smile has its origins in some recordings Swallow made back in 2017 and he said it means a lot to finally to be releasing the finished product. He said most of the recording was done last spring while he was taking a course on transcendental meditation, and that experience influenced the songs on the album.
“I think there is a general theme of trying to go within, keep things simple and try to accept the idea of impermanence and strive to be in the moment rather than focusing on the past or future,” he said.
Swallow experiments with sounds on the album, combining ambient effects with “bright, full, lots of reverb” surf guitar with repetitive hooks.
“I am primarily a drummer and backing singer so I didn’t want to put a huge focus on any instrument including the lead vocals,” he said. “I was looking for a layered atmosphere soundscape where the voice was as much an instrument as a way to convey words.”
The record was a group effort, with Swallow inviting his friends to contribute to and inspire the music. A lot of the songs emerged from jams with Vancouver percussionist Wataru Uno. Swallow also recorded with Adam Kerby and Jocelyn Hallett of Gabriola band Mad For Joy and included a song about the couple’s baby written by his friend David Caves that features a recording of the child’s heartbeat. The title track ends the album and is a collaboration with Swallow’s bandmate Alejandro Garcia, who recorded his parts in Seattle where he lives.
“I think the four songs that I like the most on the album are the four I had friends contribute to so it really made a huge difference getting that outside creativity and talent on board,” Swallow said.
Fortune is the Smile is available here.