“CANCER,” Michael Haze’s second track on his debut EP MICKEY, opens with the crackle of a vinyl record followed by a spare guitar riff. The melody is simple, a two note progression whose deeper half is echoed by a soft and higher strum. Subdued and sparse beats accompany the low tempo intro to create an understated ambience which welcomes Haze’s equally soft vocals. Though he maintains a higher register through most of the track, he, at times, dips into his lower range, melding his voice with the instrumentation that supports him. Haze’s singing, which recedes with each repetition of the guitar riff, holds an effortless transience that echoes the track’s subject: Haze’s resurgent memories of his ex-girlfriend.
MICKEY is a sombre meditation on a breakup’s fallout, a study in a relationship’s fleeting moments, whose reverberations haunt the psyche long after the moment of their occurrence. Despite the fact that Haze produced the EP in his basement, all five tracks’ cohesive sound and poetic lyricism mark his reach and potential for the heights of professional, contemporary R&B music.
Currently studying at McGill University, Haze, U3 Arts, showed an interest in music from a young age. During his early education, he took up the guitar and joined his school’s choir, as well as performing in talent shows. Before he produced his own music, Haze would often gravitate to pop and indie rock musicians’ work. Artists such as XXXTentacion informed Haze’s early attempts at songwriting, though he remarked how he had to rely less on other artists’ voices if he was to come into his own.
“When you first start making music […] I think the best way to go about it is to make music that sounds like people that inspire you already,” Haze said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “But then a lot of it just sounds faux. It sounds copied until you find your own sound. I guess that’s where I’m at right now.”
Haze starts making his tracks either by writing a few verses or developing a beat. Whichever comes first, he frames its counterpart so that it resembles the atmosphere and theme of the initial creation. Though MICKEY excels because of its meditative production, Haze expressed how he’s looking to produce more varied music in the future.
“I go to concerts a lot and I love down tempo. But I also love a mosh pit, like in up tempo concerts. So I’m really trying to incorporate a lot more of that in the [next] project, but still have the same ethos as the EP,” Haze said.
MICKEY’s last track, “PHONEY” best encapsulates Haze’s aim at a balance between lively and moody music. Its opening is a percussive assemblage of deep synth vibrations that lead into a kinetic trap beat. Haze contrasts the track’s heightened energy with his signature smooth vocals, though his lyrics’ about his ex coalesce with the background’s bold audio. The track’s forcefulness dissipates midway, though, when artist Shenny delivers a spoken word poem. With a subdued musical accompaniment, Shenny’s words conclude MICKEY in a moment of stark vulnerability. His poetry, reflective of the EP in its entirety, both celebrates the trust that love cultivates between two people as well as its subsequent betrayal as a result of the aftermath of a separation. The EP’s bittersweet ending, an attempt at reconciliation of that which inspired the EP, is a marker of Haze’s hopes to take his music elsewhere.
“I grow weary of making the same type of music, or about the same type of things,” Haze said. “The next project may still be about love, but a different aspect of it. Love that isn’t intimate.”
MICKEY is available on all streaming services.