Mikhail Laxton Remedies Homesickness with New Single “Mossman” [Exclusive Premiere]

Is there a cure for homesickness? It’s not an ailment that comes with a fever or the chills, it’s worse – debilitating even – affecting every part of the spirit. It’s often a grin-and-bear-it type of malady that eases with time, but Mikhail Laxton has created his own remedy for when he’s missing home.

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The Australia-born, now Canada-based singer-songwriter wrote his newest single, “Mossman,” with home constantly on his mind through the haze of the pandemic. “Being in Ontario at that time, we experienced so many lockdowns, and one of the ways that I was keeping myself sane was by writing songs,” Laxton tells American Songwriter. “I picked up my guitar and I just started strumming what I thought felt like home.”

His upbringing Down Under was spent trying to get away. “All my life, I wanted nothing more than to leave that place, and, to be honest, for a few years I dreaded going back, even just to visit,” he says. “It wasn’t until I was living in Canada that I started to really miss home.

“On one of my trips back, it was like I had never seen it before,” Laxton continues, his new song an ode to the beauty of his homeland, specifically his native Mossman in Queensland for which the song is named. “I had taken that place for granted when I grew up, and I didn’t realize just how beautiful it was. Maybe it is because by that time I had experienced a few of the dark, depressing Canadian winters, or maybe I had just grown up a bit more. Either way, when I went back, I couldn’t believe that that was where I came from. Paradise.”

He penned a song that would take him back there. “I miss Mossman a lot, and I think about it every day, but there are some days where I miss it a little too much,” he shares, adding when that happens, all he has to do is close his eyes and sing. “It reminds me of my childhood memories, my family and friends, and somehow gives me the feeling of still being connected to that place and those people. It’s a little bit of medicine for me when I’m feeling homesick.”

Oh I’m talking ‘bout paradise, he sings along with a rollicking rock arrangement tinted in bittersweet blues, The kinda place you never wanna leave / Lord knows that it’s been calling me / Woah Im talking ‘bout paradise / I’m talking ‘bout paradise / That’s where I wanna be.

The soundtrack of his childhood–riddled with the sounds of the Eagles, AC/DC, and Creedence Clearwater Revival–informed “Mossman” as he pulled from those early influences. “There’s something about that music that reminds me of the misty mountains of the Mossman Gorge, the deep, dark rivers of the Daintree, the smell of crushed sugarcane, and driving with the windows down on hot summer days,” the artist details. “I wanted to capture how I felt as a kid growing up in Mossman, a small country town where everybody knows everybody and life is pretty simple. You work hard, you play hard, and you help out when others need a hand.”

However, it’s not the instrumentation or the lyrics on this new track that mean the most to him. It’s a single sound, a big “yehoo” that bursts through the song toward the end.

“The ‘yehoo’ comes from my opa (grandfather) and my uncles,” Laxton shares. “On our farm, we used to let each other know where we were on the property by letting one of those rip, echoing across the property, and whoever was around would respond in kind. Then it usually just turned into everyone doing it to get a laugh. I intentionally put that in there for them.”

“Mossman” comes to a close in a roar of rock and roll as a vibrant flood of whistling echoes along with the sturdy beat. The whistling, he says, is a shoutout to his “mob,” or indigenous community, back home. “You can hear this particular whistle to the beat all throughout Far North Queensland in the indigenous communities,” he adds. “It’s a sign of a good party and everyone having a great time. For us musicians, it’s the audience’s way to let you know that they absolutely love what they’re hearing.”

“Mossman” is just a quick, but important, glimpse into what’s to come from the artist. Laxton’s self-titled album will be a track-by-track exploration of what makes him who he is. “This album is unlike anything I’ve done before, and I chose to give it the title of my own name, ‘Mikhail Laxton,’ simply because that’s all it is: truly me and my story,” he details. “This record is all about sharing my story with the world.”

Mikhail Laxton is set for release on August 18. Until then, listen to “Mossman” below.

Photo by Jen Squires / Courtesy of Acronym Records / Howling Turtle Inc.

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