“Five Minutes with local folk musician Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a songwriter fond of big dogs and bigger guitars. He hasn’t let being born with a club foot in a small – shitty one store town or a divorce stop him from pursuing his passion for music. Early on, Riley picked up the guitar when all his friends were skateboarding. Music was his way into the crowd and like most teenage boys, girls were the motivator. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Riley was a natural songwriter and soon dropped the Dashboard Confessional covers and started writing and recording in his high school bedroom.

His latest release, “Divorce” is a collection of songs chronicling home-town reunions, marriage nuptials and their eventual demise. The songs are what come when you mix your own stories with the made-up bits you imagined could have been instead.

His storytelling is perhaps best summarized by Grammy Nominated/Juno Award Winning Producer Alex Newport (City & Colour, Bloc Party):

“his songs and lyrics deal with genuine subject matter, the trials and tribulations of life and love, and are written very much from the heart, and for this reason are very powerful and compelling, and stand out head and shoulders above much of the meaningless lyrics so prevalent in today’s pop world.”

Drawing comparisons to Noah Gunderson, Ruston Kelly and Donovan Woods, Riley will follow up the EP with a full-length release in 2020.

mike riley

Name: Mike Riley

Genre: folk/canadiana

Founded: 2004

# of Albums: 6

Latest Release: divorce

Latest Single: drug dealer

Latest Video:

Favourite Restaurant:

the federal

Favourite band as a teenager:

dashboard confessional

Favourite band now:

the killers

Guilty Pleasure Song:

Tik Tok – Kesha

Live Show Ritual:

lots of pacing

Favourite local artist:

The Drew Thomson Foundation or Donovan Woods

Sneaky Dees nachos, pasta from Terroni or a superfood salad from Fresh?

Should be the salad, but always sneaky Dee’s nachos. Was late for my set last time I played there because I was eating nachos downstairs.

Queen or College St?

Queen st, but only east of the river

Trinity Bellwoods or High Park, Riverdale or Kew Gardens?

High park and kew gardens. Fenced dog parks are key.

EP or LP?

LP, as long as you can write 10 good songs

Early bird or night owl?

Early, I can’t stay up late anymore

Road or studio?

Studio usually, but if you get a magic audience then a live show is very special.

Swiss Chalet or Roti?


Where can we follow you?

Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

Any shows or albums coming up?

August 10th playing Taste of Danforth at noon!




About Joel Levy 2575 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography