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Letting go, getting out & coming home

Emerging from a bad relationship, Mekel Green found
a new sound and a new home … and an old first name

Green played CO*LAB last summer. (Kurt Bugasto)

By Gwyneth Bignell

WHEN MEKEL GREEN presents her debut album Feb. 4 at CO*LAB, it will be both a homecoming and the final link in a full-circle chain of events.

Green started making music in 2017 under her nickname, Mickey Green, with her then-boyfriend. They rehearsed together, recorded together, performed together – until 2021 when “the duo dissolved.”

In July 2019, with the end impending, she wrote these words on her iPhone: “I fall asleep praying you’ll be disloyal to me / So I can cut the ties and you won’t still have a hold on me.”

They sat on her phone, unused, until a little less than a year later when she left the boyfriend they were about. Once she did, those words came back to her and she knew they had to comprise the beginning of the song “SICKWISHES.”

That was the birth of her indie-pop album How To Forgive (And Let Go), which she will perform in sequence at CO*LAB. She will donate $5 from every admission fee to the women’s shelter, WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger).

Right after breaking up with the boyfriend, she spent the summer in Montreal, exploring the city and channelling her feelings into writing, which resulted in the track “Fragile Fragility.”

But, later, when she moved there, loneliness took hold. That winter, she says, was “the worst time of my life probably ever.”

“It felt like nobody cared whether I lived or died. Everything that I started writing musically at that time has been about me and what I learned about myself.”

“It was dark.”

The black-and-white photos she took that winter reflect her state of mind, she says.

She needed to visit home in Edmonton and, once she did, she reconnected with local musician Eli Garlick, who agreed to become her producer. She says he reminded her that making music could be fun.

‘I started taking pictures
in colour again’

“I started taking pictures in colour again. No one had ever been as patient with me.”

Over the past two years, Green worked on How to Forgive (And Let Go), with the help of Garlick.

“The album wrote itself and has been writing itself,” she says.

The words and melodies tumbled out in bits and pieces, coming to her in the shower, on the floor of her parent’s house, out of a dead sleep.

“That breakup was the first domino in the Rube Goldberg machine that is going to be the rest of my life,” she recalls.

A year to the day after she split from the other half of her duo, she got an offer to sign with the Victoria label, Amelia Recordings and officially embraced Mekel, the artist.

“I signed a label deal on the year anniversary of the dissolve,” Green says.

That was the end of Mickey Green, and the rebirth of Mekel.

“Being Mickey Green, for a long time, was who I was,” she says.”It was my relationship, and my music. And, if one of those dimensions of me was falling flat, it felt like all of me was not good enough.”

Reclaiming her proper name, one she hadn’t used since she was a child, felt right, she adds.

“I see Mekel now as more separate than me all the time. I’m still Mickey, but it’s become a useful tool to compartmentalize Mekel, especially with this album, and to step into a character a little bit more.”

A friend, who requested anonymity, says Green needed to go through all that pain to find herself.

‘I want people to understand
what I mean by this album’

“It was the best thing that ever happened to Mickey that they did break up. She needed to escape that. She has grown so much since.”

Now, nearly another year later, after signing with Amelia, Green says, “I will bring the world that I had been living in for the past two years to the stage.”

“I just want to do something that communicates the message of the album that doesn’t leave it up to interpretation. I want people to understand what I mean by this album, and I want to help them.”

The show’s bill is fully local, with an eclectic lineup of musicians hand-selected by Green: Lawrii, Mattea, and Riz!.

It has been three years since she wrote those first lyrics on her phone, three years of grappling with the complexities of forgiveness (and letting go).

After a long pause and a deep breath, Green says, “I have forgiven. I have to forgive to make room. I want to sing about something else now.”

So, on Feb. 4, Green will release her rage on the stage in a performance full of “familiar clothing and props,” and “a surprise at the end.”

The full-circle moments will end not with a whimper but with a bang.

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