My name's Neil Holyoak. I grew up in Los Angeles, and I've been living on and off Montreal for the last 6 years.

When I was 16, I moved to the backwoods of Montana, 45 minutes down the highway from Marion, the smallest town you've never heard of. I spent a lot of time with the clouds, the mountains and the dirt. In my free time, I'd sing and play guitar into a Radioshack cassette recorder.

Before long, I'd moved into a halfway house in Kalispell, Montana. Every weekday morning before dawn I'd wake up, eat a Yoplait Yogurt in a cup, then catch the bus to Flathead Valley Community College. I'd fall asleep in the dark, pressed against the heater, and wake up to an empty school and an empty sky. I've been singing about that pale wide sky for half my life.

In the years since, I've been traveling endlessly, finding sanctuary in New York, Colorado, Los Angeles, Gothenburg, Hong Kong, the Pacific Gulf Islands and most of all in Montreal. There are vapor trails inside my spine.

My first year in Montreal, I met Dave Bryant of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and we recorded my debut full-length, an album called Holy Oak, at his studio, The Pines.

photo by Neal Rockwell