Tight deep bass fills the room as Mike Marchand, a member of the Okanagan Indian Band, gets his set ready for recording.
Marchand, now 35, got his start in music when he was 17. Now that COVID-19 has taken him from his work in the food industry, he’s decided to amplify his creative skillset by producing music and photography.
“I moved back here from Agassiz, so I called my homie all the time and he was like, ‘yo man, you should start rapping,’ so from there we just started freestyling over the phone,” Marchand tells IndigiNews during a socially-distant interview from the comfort of his home studio.
Marchand, who has been featured on a variety of platforms and has opened for names like Mobb Deep, Swollen Members, Joey Styles, and Madchild, is now focusing his energy on producing beats and photography. But he’s channeling this newfound pandemic-inspired creative outlet for something more—he’s using it as a step towards sobriety.
“For the most part, the music has always followed partying and drinking,” he says.
“Since I stopped rapping and focusing on beats, I’ve sobered up a lot. But doing shows and always being at the clubs and being there every weekend, I partied a lot.”
Producing beats has been an important part of Marchand’s journey in dealing with his addictions.
“When I’m making beats, I’m at home and in my room for hours messing with sounds, and finding new sounds, and creating,” he says.
Photography has also helped Marchand cope.
“It was something to do during the COVID season, keep busy, keep distracted from the craziness going on,” he says.
According to a survey of 1400 people by Statistics Canada, “Six in 10 Indigenous participants report that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing.”
Photography, Marchand says, adds more positivity in his life.
“It’s fun, taking pictures and editing them, I’m always wanting to learn more.”
Looking ahead, Marchand hopes to start a business selling the beats he produces and blending his newfound passion for photography.
“Eventually I just want to keep producing, build a network, and start selling beats again, and try and build a name for that,” he says.
His advice for others is to stay committed to your passion, and put in the work.
“If you want to do it then you got to learn it. Sit down at the computer and figure it out,” he continues, “I’ve spent hours and hours and hours learning about everything.”
“Don’t let anything stop you. Keep going.”