Makoons looks to reinvent himself
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Despite being a regular in the Westman music circuit, Mitchell Makoons took a big step on Friday by releasing his debut single under a brand new identity.
Talking to the Sun on Monday, the 23-year-old Brandon-based musician said that the genesis of this folksy tune, titled “What Could Be,” can be traced back to the fall of 2020 when he was still heartbroken over a failed relationship.
“There was somebody in my life and I really thought I had a future with them, but it really seemed like the wrong time,” he said.
“So I miss that person a lot and the statement ‘What Could Be’ [communicates] that it could still happen. Like, there still might be a right time.”
Despite this wistful subject matter, Makoons is still excited that this song is finally available for public consumption, since he had to endure a lot of complications and setbacks recording everything in the middle of a global pandemic.
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place last year, Makoons had to coordinate the production of this song remotely instead of gathering a large group of musicians together inside of a studio.
“So it was basically just me and my producer Keiran Placatka … lots of emails back and forth and lots of brainstorming between the two of us,” he said.
“Usually we finish an album in like a month, but for this one single it took us a couple of months just because we couldn’t [all] be in a room together for a long time.”
From a career perspective, this new track also serves as a representation of how far Makoons has come as a musician, since he started playing the guitar at the age of seven to accompany his grandfather and brother’s Métis fiddle tunes.
As the years rolled by, Makoons would continue to get more and more involved with the local music scene, releasing original recordings by his mid-teens and performing alongside groups like Misty Street under his birth name, Mitchell Mozdzen.
However, the young artist recently decided to adopt the stage name “Makoons” as a nod to his Ojibway-Métis heritage, since a lot of his music is about infusing traditional Indigenous culture with more modern influences like American roots music.
Now that he has released his first single under the “Makoons” moniker, the 23-year-old musician is now in the process of recording a full album that will take this idea to its natural conclusion.
“For that we really want to make sure that we can get a band in the room,” he said. “So we’re kind of peering into bluegrass music because Métis [music] is really similar to bluegrass and we want to be able to play with a band and get a feeling for the tunes.”
While the release of this album is still a long way off, Makoons is hoping to tide his fans over by releasing a second new track on July 8.
The musician touts this single, titled “Still My Father’s Son,” as his best song yet, partially because it navigates a lot of personal subject matter surrounding his parent’s divorce and the subsequent alienation of his dad.
“It was just hard to lose that person, because he was one of the biggest teachers in my life,” he said. “And even though we don’t hang out anymore, all the things he taught me like how to fish and how to check my oil and change my tires for winter … I still have all those skills.”
Moving into the summer, Makoons is getting back on the road, planning to take part in a tour of southern Manitoba in July and a string of northern shows with the Manitoba Arts Network in August.
Outside of the sheer thrill of being able to perform live and in person again, Makoons is excited that these shows will give him the opportunity to directly learn from his fellow artists, since being mentored by local musicians like drummer Roman Clarke and bassist Marika Galea has left a big impact on his career.
“I’m still finding mentors now and I think that’s the best way to grow,” he said. “Because these are the people who have gone and done it already and they can give you a real helping hand.”
Anyone interested in listening to “What Could Be” can do so by visiting Makoons’ official accounts on Spotify, YouTube or iTunes.