Airline pilot/singer-songwriter Mike Haggith may have moved from the Sault to Thompson, Manitoba a few years ago to start his career, but the impact the city had on him continued to influence the songwriting on his latest album, Bridges.
“When I moved to Thompson, Manitoba back in late 2017, I found myself incredibly lonely and isolated,” he says.
“I was so far away from everyone I'd ever known and cared about, friends and family alike. The album Bridges was born from that feeling, and was written in a two-week span during December of 2017.”
Haggith’s feeling of isolation became the central theme around which the entire record was crafted.
“Each of the ten songs tells a different story of feeling isolated, but from a different perspective each time.”
Bridges is Haggith’s first solo album to be mixed and mastered by an external producer, Justin Sobey of Lionheart Audio in Thompson, Man. It is a follow-up album to If Ever Comes the Day from 2020.
Haggith notes that although the recording was finished during studio sessions in late 2018, the album spent a good three years in mixing, mastering and post-production phase.
“Initially, I wasn't happy with the delay. Seeing everything that we've gone through in the past two years, I think the delay really ended up working to the record's benefit. What better time to release an album about isolation than after two years of lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions on gatherings?”
The album's lead single, “The Nature of the Times,” is a laid back soft rocker.
“[The song] calls for everyone to come together in spite of trivial differences,” says Haggith, noting the single was released with a “proper” music video directed by Day Deschambeault.
“The video features many sights around Thompson. The day we filmed the video, it was a balmy 24 below zero, but I don't think you can tell just how much my hands hurt when you watch the finished product.”
If releasing an album of new material wasn’t enough, Haggith also worked with former Sault bandmates on a special anniversary re-issue of an album he released in the Sault in 2016.
Haggith, who with the Sault’s Brandan Glew and Tammy Hill, once formed the local indie band The Din, collectively worked on an anniversary re-issue of their debut album.
“This is certainly the year of posthumous Din releases. As a band, we have so much in the vault from our active years, and it just doesn't make sense not to share it,” he says.
The Din’s debut, Give In To The Din was a 9-track album originally released On August 12, 2016.
“The album was just under forty minutes of runtime. However, there were thousands of hours of work that went into the record behind the scenes, and on the five-year anniversary of its release, we announced a forthcoming ‘Deluxe Edition’ of the album, featuring nine additional tracks- outtakes, demos, instrumentals, and more.”
That re-issue was released on Oct. 23.
“Going back to August 2016, the night we released Give In, we threw a massive CD release concert at the Baldwin Theatre at The Tech, and though we didn't make much public mention of it, we did record the entire concert audio. It needed a little work in post, and we never had the time to do it when we were active, so it sat collecting dust for years, until I finally had the chance to work on it this year.”
Those recordings will be released as a live album under the title Technically Live on Boxing Day.
“There's more in the vault, and plenty more Din to be heard and celebrated. At the end of the day, the reason this is being released now, is simply a matter of finally having enough time to properly dedicate to the release and promotion.”
The Din’s Brandan Glew and Tammy Hill both still reside in the Sault.
“They are absolutely crushing it. They both work pretty intensive jobs with long hours, but from what I've seen, they still get some time to play their instruments of choice and do what they love. That's what it's all about.”
For those who want to see Haggith live in action, he hosts a monthly livestream concert on Facebook, with the next one happening on Thursday, December 16 at 7:30 PM EST.
“The format is fairly simple. I sit down with an acoustic guitar and a rough idea of a setlist, and what ensues is a mix of performance, updates on projects, reminiscence on old times with stories that some have never heard before, and the occasional laughing at the comment section, which is usually pretty animated,” he says.
“Everyone has a great time, and it helps keep me fresh and allows me to showcase new material before it goes into the studio, which is a fun treat for those who care to watch.”
Haggith says the livestream will have a Sault guest, Gortium85 (better known as Brad Griffith).
“It’s going to be a great night. Brad is a staple of the Sault Ste. Marie original music scene, who has an extensive back catalogue of fantastic tunes and may be best remembered as the frontman of Bizotic, who were pretty well-known when The Din was still active.”
Haggith reflects on the past year as definitely having its share of high and lows for him personally.
“The pandemic slowed, but thankfully didn't stop, my career progression as a pilot. This past June, I was finally awarded a Captain position with my airline, which was a tremendous honour. If that wasn't enough, Tianna and I got engaged in July, and couldn't be more excited to begin the next chapter of our lives together,” he says.
“Sadly, this year also saw the passing of my grandmother in May and our cat Luna the following month, which took a heavy toll … but I'm surrounded by incredible family and friends, and life most certainly has a way of moving forward. I'm hugely grateful for everyone and with the COVID restrictions slowly starting to ease, I think we're all feeling a bit more optimistic than we were at the beginning of the year.”
Haggith will be returning through the Sault over the holidays for a few days.
“In 2022, I hope to get back far more frequently.”
The deluxe reissue of The Din’s debut album is available on all streaming platforms.
Haggith’s solo album, Bridges, is now available on CD and vinyl, as well as on streaming platforms.