SEATTLE MUSICIAN Peter Michel is only 21 years old, but he's already a grizzled veteran of the indie rock scene. He joined the indie pop band Craft Spells as a drummer at 17, and toured with them for more than a year.
"Traveling was amazing. We went all over Europe. I learned what it's like to be in a touring band and not have a bed to sleep in, necessarily, every night," Michel says. "I was fine with it. I kind of like just having no idea what the next day is going to be like."
It was good prep for the low-budget tour that Michel's bedroom-pop project, Hibou, is currently undertaking. "Everything we've done, tour-wise, has been scraped together and we come home barely alive and it's great," Michel says.
The DIY aesthetic is not the only thing Michel learned in the van with Craft Spells. It's also where he began to absorb older bands—Joy Division, New Order, and so on—that now heavily inform Hibou's sound. Before that, Michel was a "huge Bright Eyes nerd" and the Beatles were "an everyday thing" in his musical household, where his dad played Irish folk music and his mom was a piano player. Michel started piano lessons when he was three, and picked up the guitar and drums as a pre-teen. He left Craft Spells in 2013 because he wanted to focus on writing his own music.
That's where Hibou began. It's truly a bedroom project: Every song has been written and recorded in Michel's little home studio. Michel's put together a five-song EP (Dunes, released in June 2013), and has a full-length album recorded, mastered, and ready to roll later in 2015.
Michel seems to have a knack for the kind of dreamy, propulsive jangle-pop that has been white-hot in recent years thanks to bands like Wild Nothing and DIIV. The Dunes EP is a beautiful swirl of bloodless drumbeats, chiming guitars, and Michel's bleary vocals, all shrouded in a heavy blanket of reverb. A brand-new song on Hibou's Bandcamp page, "When the Season Ends," ups the fidelity a notch with a more New Wave-y sound. If Hibou's management is going to shop this band to record labels, their list of potential partners likely begins with retro-dream-pop factory Captured Tracks.
"When the Season Ends" will be on Hibou's full-length album, whenever and wherever it comes out. But Michel posted it to Bandcamp last month because he just couldn't wait any longer.
"It makes me feel like I'm being productive, because it's been like a year since I put anything out," he says. "I can get things out super quick and see the response from the people that actually listen to the music, and they're always so excited. So far the best thing has just been to get stuff out as fast as we can. Eventually, a label will come along and I'll have to respect what they're going to want to do, to make them the most money or whatever."
But that's a worry for another day. For now, Michel just has to figure out how to go on tour. "I'm not even sure how we're going to drive around yet," he says. "We'll find some friend who will loan us their mom's minivan or something. It always works out."