Regina, Treaty 4: Erik Mehlsen

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(Photo by Aidan Morgan, Intro by Vicky Sutherland)

Every time I have to describe Erik Mehlsen to anyone, I find myself saying the same thing - “probably the best person I know.” There are few people I genuinely adore more than the man in question. Throughout our years of friendship, I’ve known him to be a true chameleon in the most endearing of ways. From commercial realtor to unshowered hippie, he takes on every new challenge with candid authenticity and determination. Whether sitting down with his grandma for a friendly game of crib and a whiskey or staying up into the wee hours of the morning to listen to your latest relationship woes (despite not having slept in weeks), Erik is the kind of friend, child, sibling and grandchild we all aspire to be.

In addition to being an all around amazing human, Erik also has talent and ambition in droves. Having been a musician probably since before he could tie his own shoes (somewhere between age 5 and 25), you can find him any given day jamming or playing shows with Andino Suns, The Dead South or any other collaboration of Saskatchewan talent. In recent months, Erik has also taken on the persona of author. Under the moniker Del Suelo, he has just successfully completed his first project titled “I Am Free.” The “tracked album” (as we’ve come to refer to it) creates a beautiful marriage of literature and music within its 10 songs and corresponding chapters in the accompanying book. It truly showcases the heart and soul of a great artist and probably the best person you want to know.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Of late, my focus has been self-inquiry (the observation of my unconscious values) and then with this, challenging the status-quo, first in myself, and then in the external world. These days my vehicle to do this is writing prose and pairing it with music - effective both as catharsis and expression, and results in art of depth that is also entertaining.

Right now I’m in the process of releasing my first Novel + Album combo, titled “I Am Free”. There are 10 chapters, and an album of 10 songs - one song for each chapter! The project tells a story about what it means to be a privileged young adult in the affluent society we live in today, and the emotional and spiritual paradoxes and problems we face. The story addresses unconscious relationship patterns, addiction, consumerism, patriarchy, faith, and loneliness. It sounds heavy, but it is a swift and enjoyable read. It is being published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing. I’m touring this Spring to promote it. The Regina release is April 14th at the Exchange, and the Saskatoon Release is April 22 at the Underground Cafe.

As well, I’m staying busy as a musician and teacher. I’ve been in the studio recording bass with the Andino Suns for our 3rd full length studio effort, as well as touring a fair amount with The Dead South filling in on the cello. I’ve also started a monthly guitarist hangout at the Creative City Centre where I teach some basic theory and then we all jam for a couple hours to practice what we’ve learned.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

Right now I am a full time artist. I love how random and unexpected some of my days are. No two weeks are the same. I’m either in a van crossing some vast, lonely expanse of space, or I am at home sitting in front of my computer trying articulate my thoughts and feelings - or just trying to add up my take out receipts. Challenges definitely lie in maintaining physical and mental health on the road - there’s not always the easiest environments to care of yourself. Oh, and feeling secure with the world’s most unsteady paycheck.

KC: What’s important to you?

Quality. If I’m going to get behind something, I want it to be sincere and have a sense of depth. There is far too much fleeting, shallow, poorly made stuff bombarding us online these days.

KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?

Most: My family and friends are here. I can have so many needs met so efficiently; if I have an emotional need, I can call someone, if I need an odd job done, I know the right person. I also like how I can live a few different lives here. Within the span of one day I can be in a hockey dressing room and backstage at a music venue.

Least: It can feel lonely and isolated. Its frigid half the year. There is no climbing gym, and most morning flights leave at 5:40am.

KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?

It’s like meeting your doppelgänger. It’s so curious because the similarities are abundant, yet, infinitely different. Parts of the city are beautiful. I still get lost easily. I hope to make a deeper connection with the city this year.

KC: How do you survive the winters?

Barely, but this year it was writing a novel and playing hockey.

From the Proust Questionaire: What is your greatest extravagance? 

About twice a year I drink coffee. I’m really sensitive to caffeine and pay the price for its consumption, but its a helluva ride.

www.delsuelo.net www.facebook.com/delsuelomusic www.delsuelo.tumblr.com www.instagram.com/del_suelo www.twitter.com/del_suelo