Winnipeg indie-rock artist Touching (Michael Falk) releases sophomore album, littleworlds, alongside focus track and music video “All I Need.” In 12 tracks, littleworlds aims to disinfect feelings of loneliness and disconnection with light and hope. Preceded by two deeply profound music videos, “All I Need” is the final video of the trio marking Falk’s ambitious directorial debut.

Lead single, “Tony Called The Muscle” deals with the confusing emotions that intertwine with falling out with a close creative collaborator. Revolving around a boxing ring that becomes the backdrop to each story, Falk shares that “it becomes central to the video series as a place of conflict, repair, refuge, and hope.”  “Caught In The Middle” ignites a slow-burning reverence that unpacks the plethora of feelings that arise with the birth of a first child. The piano led indie-rock ballad leaves plenty of room for warm and inviting vocals, invoking the theatrics of bands such as Editors and Frightened Rabbits.

Touching is the artistic alias of songwriter and producer Michael Falk. From his home in Winnipeg, the multi-hyphenate musician has organized festivals, run a studio, and operated a record label, juggling countless roles within the local scene. As a performer, he has toured with acclaimed acts including Les Jupes, The Liptonians, and rapper/CBC host Ismaila Alfa. Yet since becoming a father, Falk has consolidated his lifelong pursuit into a renewed, singular focus: Get back to making music. And lots of it.

Spring 2020 saw the release of Touching’s debut album, Isolation Blues. Sharing 10 songs over 10 weeks, the project was unveiled serially with a one-shot video for each track filmed and released every seven days. With its relatable lyrical themes of loneliness, depression, and disconnection, Exclaim! described the collection as “a greatest hits of pandemic moods.”

What’s your story as an artist? 

My artistic path has not been a very straight line. For some musicians, it’s a very clear path and they know how and where they’re going. For me, there’s been a lot of experimentation, stops, starts, turnabouts. 

I suppose that’s kinda how I make music too, so maybe it’s no big surprise. I tend to improvise and throw a lot of proverbial muck at the proverbial wall and see what sticks … often only able to assess if the rough idea I’ve made is any good after a period of distance and time. Which is kinda funny, because a lot of my career in the music business has been built on knowing if music is good or not, often within seconds. But for my own? It takes time.

Almost as long as I’ve been putting my music out into the world, I’ve been working at some element of the music business. To be honest, sitting here now, I’m not sure it was the right move. But, it was the move I made, and for a long time I was passionate about wearing all the hats. I liked the ridiculous challenge of it. I thought it would be a way to open doors for my music, and I suppose to a point it was … but what if all that time spent in the business meant I wasn’t spending enough time on my music? And what if the only way that artist door really, actually, truly opens for someone, is by becoming a better musician, a better songwriter, a better producer, more comfortable being vulnerable, and telling my story? No music biz job can do that for you.

I’ve co-run a recording studio, turned a small collective of musician friends into a record label, recorded over 40 albums for others, managed a couple artists, played and toured with a bunch of bands, and spent a number of years producing festivals and booking a venue. It’s kinda wild, sitting here now, to think of all that stuff… not many people have experiences this varied. There’s been some great successes, also a few crushing failures. I’ve tried to turn the failures into learning opportunities, and I suppose that is what brings us to me, here, today, making lots of music again.

Over the next while I’m going to tell some stories from my circuitous path through music. 

As for now, like many during the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to re-evaluate what I’ve been doing with my life … and I’m not entirely satisfied. There’s more art I want to make. I want to find the audience I know is out there. I want to explore new musical territory (just wait ‘til you hear Album #3!) … so for the first time in my artistic life, I’ve actually put away all music business distractions with the sole, primary focus of just making art. It’s taken a long time and a lot of roundabouts to get to this point. And I’m excited to see where we all end up on the other side. 

What inspired this single/album?

littleworlds came out of a big batch of songs I had been slowly working on for the past few years. Some of them became Isolation Blues, our first album that we put out last year. And some became littleworlds, and some will probably never see the light of day. Ha.  For littleworlds I tried to pull together a set of songs that were about conflict and resolution, about the fear of becoming a parent, and about looking hopefully to the future. 

What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?

Most of my songwriting is simply expressing or processing stuff that’s happening to me in my life, but sometimes I’ll tell metaphorical stories too – like with All I Need. That one is set on an old factory’s worker’s last day of work, his retirement day, and he stands and looks back on his life slaving away and wondering if it was worth anything, in the end.

Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing the album?


Hahaha I kid. I dunno … its all a blur. I’m sure somebody did some silly shit and we all laughed, at least once or twice. Sorry, I got nothing here. 

Tell us about the music video(s) and the idea behind it ?

There’s a lyric in “Tony Called The Muscle” that says “I’ll never fight you in the middle of the ring.” I wanted to tell stories of rupture and repair, about the stretching of relationships … that ultimately build strength, like muscles when they get torn just enough. The balancing act. 

To tell those stories we made three videos, each set in a boxing ring. It felt like the right place to springboard some of those narratives from.

What’s a record that shaped your creativity?

Hoo boy. THERE’S SO MANY! Lately I’ve ben listening to the last albums by Portishead and Massive Attack. And Donny McCaslin. And Sirintip. Kinda that modern electronic pop front tip of jazz. 

Historically, Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model and REM’s Life Rich Pagaent were really impactful. Tori Amos’ From The Choirgirl Hotel. Stuff like that.

Who is an artist or band you look up to today?

Low has made a late-career left turn that is absolutely fascinating to watch. How they’ve shifted into these albums of insane noise and distortion, but that maintaint their careful, humble, patient songwriting sensitivities. I love what they’re doing. Its so forward-thinking and envelope-pushing and you don’t get that from indie rock vets of their stature very often.

Any future projects?

The hopper is full and churning, baby! Album 3 is almost recorded. And Alasdair and I have started a remix project where we take a micro-sampling re-composition approach to music that has one foot in jazz. Lots of fun stuff in the pipeline. And maybe a few curveballs. 

Top 3 dream collaborations?

Donny McCaslin, Jamila Woods, Beck. Boom that would slay.

What does music mean to you?

Crikees where to begin?? Writing songs has been a place of solace, reflection and contemplation since my late teens. A place to process my life. So I suppose its been my therapy sessions.  

Music has also been a business and a career. I’ve spent a lot of years producing and promoting concerts from some pretty well-known folks – I’ve booked Common, Daniel Caesar, Noname, The Flaming Lips, and many many more. I’ve made a lot of records for people at my studio. I’ve put out albums on my old label. That intertwining of music and business was pretty prominent for a decade or so for me. I’ve kinda been winding that stuff down for a while and just focusing on writing and playing again … and that’s also been good for my mental health. The music business isn’t always a healthy place.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

A singer-songwriter with access to too many synths and delay pedals.