- Michalis Patterson returns home to Bend to debut his new album, "Recycled Experiences."
At 21 years old, Michalis (pronounced Mik-all-is) Patterson has lived more life than some people who are well into their retirement years. The Bend native graduated at age 16, foregoing a scholarship to nursing school to pursue his love of playing music around the globe.
Patterson performed at the Sisters Folk Fest at age 16. There he met Keb Mo, who asked him to be his lead guitarist on his next tour. That show changed Patterson's life and set him on the path to pursue music as a career. He wanted to travel and didn't have a lot of money, but soon realized he could travel the world performing.
Before turning 18, he jetted off to New Zealand for his first solo trip overseas. As we chatted at Spoken Moto, he showed me pictures of the time he camped in the same desert where "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed in Saudi Arabia. Patterson currently lives in Sicily, Italy, where he'll return after spending the summer in Bend.
"I wanted to always live a life worth singing about. I've had a lot of crazy experience in my life," Patterson says. "I have a message with my music. I feel like substance has really been lacking in music recently. I want to provide people an outlet with my music, for suicide prevention, for those suffering from addiction."
Patterson started playing the classical violin at 10 and has since developed a love for rock and grunge music. Lyrically, he often tackles heavier, darker themes.
"I lost three friends to suicide this year," Patterson says. "No matter if it wasn't my fault, I still felt guilty in the sense that I wanted to be there for them. Those will be the last people that I lose to suicide. I want people to know that whether they are a friend or stranger to me, I'm there for them and hopefully my music can be there for them." Patterson's travels have fostered his desire to support those struggling with depression, addiction or mental health issues.
Patterson continues to tour across the globe, having recently played shows in Italy and in the UK at various festivals. He toured around Israel for several months until he lost the residence he was renting. That prompted him to hitchhike to a camel ranch near the Saudi Arabian border. This ended up being a life-changing experience for Patterson.
"I met this kid who was 14," Patterson recalls. "He'd lost his father and he needed a business and a way to make money. I have experience with web design, analytics and marketing, so I built a website for him. He's had several hundreds of people stay with him at his lodging facility. He's 14 years old and independent. My music has never been about me, it's been about helping other people. I did a few shows in Petra, where I met people who got sucked into really bad drugs. Talking to kids, there is an outlet. There's always a creative outlet instead of drugs."
This summer, Patterson releases his new album, "Recycled Experiences," which he recorded at Juju Eyeball Studios in Bend. He plans to perform shows in Oregon and California before returning to Sicily in September.
"I believe if I have a positive energy and give that energy to other people, I'm not expecting anything from it, that it's instant gratification. I do it because it's the right thing."