El Michels Affair, has shared their new single “Fazed Out.” The track is off his forthcoming release Yeti Season, which drops on March 26th via frontman Leon Michels’ own label, Big Crown Records. The album is the follow-up to last year’s Adult Themes, and includes the previously released singles “Murkit Gem,” “Unathi,” and “Zaharila” which all feature New York-based artist Piya Malik.
Leon Michels name first appeared on a record, he was 16. That release was Thunder Chicken, and the group was his high school band, The Mighty Imperials. The record was essentially an homage to The Meters, at the time it was near pitch-perfect for the budding retro-soul scene. While that release was an early step for Michels, aspects of it have almost become trademarks of his work: a unique raw-yet-disciplined approach to his sound and songwriting, and a soulful genuineness that has a sense of humor one minute and a sense of solace the next.
While finishing Thunder Chicken, Michels began touring and recording with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings—which he did for the next 7 years. During that time he was also recording songs in a makeshift home studio and preparing for what would be his first full-length record, Sounding Out The City, and the first release under the name El Michels Affair. In 2004, when Sounding Out The City was recorded, Michels’ obsession with Euro Library, American soul, and early rocksteady crept its way into the songwriting and recording aesthetic, the outcome was something Michels appropriately dubbed “Cinematic Soul.” The album was to be the first release on Truth & Soul Records, a new label Michels co-founded.
While simultaneously running a label, playing/touring, and co-producing other artist’s music Michels helped found The Menahan Street Band, co-produced Aloe Blacc’s sophomore smash LP, Good Things, and received a writer credit on Adele’s Grammy-nominated album, 19. Shortly thereafter Michels found himself on tour with The Black Keys after being cold-called by Auerbach and asked to join them on the road. It turned out that Auerbach was a big fan of the sound and approach of the Lee Fields record “My World”, which Michels produced. When Auerbach was tapped to make Dr. John’s album, Locked Down and Lana Del Rey’s LP, Ultraviolence, Michels was brought along to play and add his signature sound. That led to being included in and touring for Auerbach’s psych-rock project, The Arcs, which features Michels as a musician and co-producer.
in 2016, Michels co-founded Big Crown Records with Danny Akalapse, the second record label Michels has helped build from the ground. Since then, he has produced a majority of the albums from the label’s roster including Lee Fields, Lady Wray, Brainstory, Paul & The Tall Trees, Liam Bailey, and Thee Lakesiders. Michels has also produced records for Beyonce & Jay-Z’s side project, The Carters, Hanni El Khatib, Chicano Batman, Marco Benevento, and Don Toliver.
El Michels Affair
Big Crown Records
March 26, 2021
1. Unathi (feat. Piya Malik)
2. Sha Na Na (feat. The Shacks)
3. Ala Vida
4. Fazed Out
5. Murkit Gem (feat. Piya Malik)
6. Lesson Learned
7. Dhuaan (feat. Piya Malik)
8. Perfect Harmony
9. Silver Lining
10. Zaharilia (feat. Piya Malik)
11. Last Blast
A box set of the album is available to pre-order now featuring a children’s book written by Michels’ mother, Francine Prose, and illustrated by Omar “El Oms” Juarez. Purchase it here.