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Danny Michel, Khlebnikov

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By
Judith Lynch

In 2016, singer-songwriter Danny Michel was invited by Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield to spend some time on a Soviet icebreaker as it cruised through the Northwest Passage.

Michel spent 18 days on the ship, and in that time he challenged himself to write a collection of songs. He turned his cabin into a makeshift studio — using bathrobes to baffle the sound — and proceeded to invite guests into his studio to record with him. Col. Hadfield, being fluent in Russian, sang a Russian folk song with the ship's dishwashing crew while Michel provided the English translation. Even the massive horsepower of the Khlebnikov inspired Michel's music.

"One evening at 4 a.m. I woke to massive muffled booms and thuds of the Khlebnikov lurching through the Arctic ice," Michel says in a press release. "Too curious to sleep I put on all my gear and went outside to see what was happening. There alone, at the bow, I witnessed one of the most glorious moments of my life: under an endless sky and midnight sun, I watched pieces of ice the size of tennis courts break, flip and bounce around like bowling pins under the hull of the mighty Khlebnikov. Later that day I wrote '24,000 Horses.'"

Khlebnikov will be released on Jan. 20. You can pre-order the album here.