Micah Erenberg keeps his secrets but shares new songs
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/08/2022 (215 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Don’t bother asking where Micah Erenberg’s secret beach is.
The Manitoba singer-songwriter, who on Aug. 24 is releasing a new album, Songs From the Secret Beach, under the pseudonym the Secret Beach, has no interest in sharing where his secluded spot is.
Even if he did, knowing its location wouldn’t help much.
“It’s a spot we discovered a while back that was very special and very secret,” he says. “It’s harder to get there now; in fact, I don’t know if it’s possible to get there right now because the lake’s so high.
“There is a place that it is named after but I can’t really say too much more than that.”
Chances are Erenberg’s secret sandy stretch is in the Winnipeg Beach area, as he grew up in nearby Matlock and recorded the album in late 2019 and the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
He used the same room where he first sang and played guitar into a cassette recorder when he was a teenager.
“I think I had it pretty good, as far as being set up for not going anywhere,” Erenberg, 29, says. “It was my old rehearsal space from when I was a kid. It was a very comfortable place to make music.”
The result is some bouncy pop and roots tunes, with the song The Secret Beach sounding like an early British Invasion tune.
The lyrics are much heavier stuff, though, especially God Is, which is influenced by Brand New Ancients by British poet Kae Tempest.
God is a lot of people and places in the song’s irreverent lyrics — “God is making supper in a food truck in Van Nuys / God is living lavishly in an un-Godlike disguise,” are a couple of many in the six-minute tune — but one could also surmise from the song that God is a part of everyone and we carry His presence wherever we go.
“I was in the U.K. and looking a bookstore for some poetry that wasn’t by some old white guy from 200 years ago and I couldn’t find anything,” Erenberg says about coming upon Brand New Ancients, which is the book version of a spoken-word performance by Tempest, a 36-year-old non-binary writer and musician. “The whole book is a story but it’s split up into these smaller poems about the characters in the story.
“I’ve never been captivated by any writing ever before like that. It was very inspirational and probably to this day it’s one of the favourite books I’ve ever read.”
In Song for My Sister, he sings about ditching old habits and ways, and returning to a simpler life.
“It’s sort of half-personal,” says Erenberg, who came up with the lyrics on a trip to Iceland. “When I actually wrote that song, I was trying to think of a song my sister would write if we wrote a song together.”
By choosing the Secret Beach as his new stage name, Erenberg joins a trend among other local solo performers who have chosen to perform using a pseudonym that sounds like a band rather than their given name.
They are used when an artist is making a musical departure and takes on a striking new persona, such as Begonia (Alexa Dirks); right at the beginning of a recording career, such as Slow Leaves (Grant Davidson) or a cool and catchy version of their given name, such as JayWood (Jeremy Haywood-Smith).
Even Liam Duncan, who is among the musicians on Songs From the Secret Beach, recorded under the name Boy Golden for his 2021 record, Church of Better Daze, which became a roots-rock favourite across Canada and landed him spots at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July.
Erenberg offers several reasons for going by the Secret Beach after putting out two albums, 2016’s Poor Mic’s Toe and 2019’s Love is Gonna Find You, under his given name. It’s partly because he’s enlisted several people on the project, including Kacy Lee Anderson and Clayton Linthicum from the Saskatoon folk duo Kacy and Clayton; Anderson’s sister, Carlee Goodwin; Winnipeg musicians Matthew Filopoulos and Micah Braun; and U.S. session drummer Eric Slick.
“It’s kind of like a first record but not a first record,” Erenberg says. “There’s quite a few other people on the record and I wanted to represent them as well, but also, nobody ever knows how to spell my name and I thought I’d fix that problem by calling myself the Secret Beach.”
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Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.