Michael C. Duguay first surfaced in the Canadian music landscape as a collaborative multi-instrumentalist working with a number of a number of critically acclaimed projects, performing on breakthrough albums by Evening Hymns and The Burning Hell, and in east-coast supergroup Weird Lines (with Julie Doiron and Jon McKiel), among others. While touring the world and gaining a reputation primarily as a backing musician, Michael was covertly recognized in the Canadian music community as an enigmatic personality, fervent community organizer, and a gifted artist, songwriter, and poet whose busy touring schedule and reckless lifestyle often stood in the way of formally documenting his own work.
Michael was covertly recognized in the Canadian music community as an enigmatic personality, fervent community organizer, and a gifted artist, songwriter, and poet whose busy touring schedule and reckless lifestyle often stood in the way of formally documenting his own work.
Initially conceived as a series of agnostic hymns and prayers, Saint Maybe’s lyrical themes explore survival, surrender, spirituality, and the limitations of human language in expressing mystical concepts. Musically, Saint Maybe seamlessly incorporates folk, punk, electronic, jazz, and experimental music traditions while remaining squarely rooted in skillful pop craftsmanship. Saint Maybe, recorded by Jordy Walker and mixed/mastered by Gavin Brown, was produced in Whitehorse over multiple sessions between 2019 and 2021, and saw Duguay immersing himself in the Yukon’s creative community, collaborating intensively with an impressive roster of that territory’s most innovative and forward-thinking musicians, performers, and visual artists. Both conceptually and in execution, Saint Maybe impressively displays Michael C. Duguay’s evolution as a pioneer in a new school of Canadian music.
Every song tells a story, but not every songwriter can tell a story the way Duguay can.
In 2012, he self-released Heavy on the Glory, a collection of eight songs written and recorded between 2004 and 2010, produced by James Bunton (Donovan Woods, Ohbijou), and featuring over thirty contributing musicians. Recorded in the shared living space of the communal artist co-op that he inhabited in Peterborough, Ontario, the album showcased Duguay’s emerging knack for lucent storytelling and his penchant for thrilling compositions, entrenched in stalwart punk rock ethos and energy. Though considered by those in his circle to be a captivating documentation of Duguay’s conspicuous ability, Heavy on the Glory was never formally promoted or toured as Duguay’s health and personal life unraveled. Following a move to Sackville, New Brunswick after years of substance abuse and undiagnosed mental illness, Duguay suffered a series of mental breakdowns, eventually leading to institutionalization, poverty, and homelessness. From 2014 to 2018, Michael disappeared from the Canadian music scene completely.
Following a move to Sackville, New Brunswick after years of substance abuse and undiagnosed mental illness, Duguay suffered a series of mental breakdowns, eventually leading to institutionalization, poverty, and homelessness.
In 2018, Michael resurfaced near Kingston, Ontario after sustained and determined efforts from his friends and family contributed to his return to health and stability. He compiled and completed his poetry and song-sketches from the preceding decade, and set out to record and produce a new album. With a revolving and diverse cast of friends including members of Evening Hymns, Pony Girl, Little Kid, Minotaurs, Alanna Gurr, Merival, the Two Minute Miracles, and Omhouse – his partner performs the trombone parts, and his 87 year old Grandfather also sings on the closing track – the album was produced out of heralded Canadian studios including Port William Sound, The House of Miracles, and Little Bullhorn.
The result, two years later, is The Winter of our Discotheque; a fascinating and compelling collection of songs that offer a sobering insight into the mind of an artist deeply invested in the meticulous craft of honest songwriting. With storytelling rooted in genuine grit and hard-earned mettle, Michael has finally been given the chance to have his voice heard. On the album’s sprawling opening track, One Million More, a powerful eight-minute testimony of forgiveness, and a humble and compelling commitment to personal accountability, sobriety, and his craft, Michael sings, ‘‘I’ve heard the song remains the same; I think I’ll write one million more.’ With this proclamation, Michael C. Duguay announces the long-awaited arrival of his distinctive voice. The batch of uniquely thoughtful, compelling, and resonant songs that follow serve as a promise of what is destined to be a rich and prolific career for one of Canada’s finest and most formidable young songwriters.
On The Winter of Our Discotheque, his first album in nearly a decade, Michael C. Duguay immerses listeners in his complex universe through work which is both familiar and inventive, equally whimsical and stone-cold stoic. The songs in this collection were composed over ten itinerant and disastrous years, in and about his life lived in hospital beds, shelters, and addiction treatment centres. This quasi-sophomore release finds Michael C. Duguay returned to wellness and rapturously reunited with his craft, writing with startling clarity and remarkable candor, withstanding the conventional singer-songwriter label. The Winter of Our Discotheque is a triumphant reemergence, establishing Michael C. Duguay as an idiosyncratic punk-poet whose mercurial work, while firmly rooted in the vernacular tradition, combines adroit pop and the avant-garde to ecstatic and often devastating effect.
The Winter of Our Discotheque is a triumphant reemergence, establishing Michael C. Duguay as an idiosyncratic punk-poet whose mercurial work, while firmly rooted in the vernacular tradition, combines adroit pop and the avant-garde to ecstatic and often devastating effect.