Interview of Mitch Rowland by Freya Bennett
Mitch Rowland’s Come June is a gentle waterfall of indie-folk genius. The warmth and subtle confidence of Rowland shines through in his debut album featuring acclaimed musicians Sarah Jones, Rob Schnapf, Jerry Borgé and Matt Schuessler. With appearances by Ben Harper and Harry Styles.
A prolific songwriter, Rowland has co-written hit songs such as Watermelon Sugar, Golden and Music for a Sushi Restaurant and now, we are getting to see beneath the covers and experience Rowland’s own magic.
The perfect album to listen to when you’re feeling dreamy, nostalgic or in need of a friendly companion. Come June is the soothing antidote to a busy world or an anxious mind – an album that asks nothing of you but delivers everything.
Congratulations on your debut album, Come June, how’re you feeling now it’s out in the world?
Thanks. It already feels old, but I guess that’s normal. I just got back in with Rob Schnapf to record a 7” and had a lot of fun doing that. I guess I should be focusing on the tour though since that’s coming first.
As a prolific songwriter and collaborator, how do you choose which songs will be kept just for yourself?
I used to categorise my ideas and say those are for whoever and these are for me. It’s boiled down to a bit of a pointless exercise and I don’t really do that anymore. Ideas are just starting out points whoever they’re for, myself included.
What music did you grow up listening to?
The Beatles were always on. And a lot of Stevie Wonder, which led me to James Brown and George Clinton. My dad bought everything by The Beatles again when the whole catalogue got remastered on CD sometime in the 90s. And then I saw Bert Jansch play right before he died when I was about 20. That was pretty life changing.
Your music is so beautifully understated and calming, very different from the contemporary pop music you co-write with Harry Styles (Music for a Sushi Restaurant, Watermelon Sugar), how do you change style so seamlessly?
I don’t think I’ve changed what I’ve been doing at all for the most part. Harry takes my guitar parts and turns them into pop songs. I take the same kind of stuff and keep it more in the folk world. Music For A Sushi Restaurant is a wild card. Growing up listening to a variety of stuff helped connect a lot of dots later in life. I got rock and roll from my dad. I got R&B from my mom. And jazz from my brother.
You’ve been compared to Sufjan Stevens and Lord Huron, and I can also hear elements of Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, Crosby Stills and Nash and Paul Simon. Where do you see your place as a singer/songwriter in the evolution of that genre from the 60s and 70s?
I’ve still never listened to Sufjan Stevens or Lord Huron. I look at a guy like José González who’s just staying in his lane making cool music seemingly at his own pace. I don’t think much about being lumped in with anybody though. I’m just enjoying making new music with my friends.
Is there a story arc to your album or an overarching theme? Listening through from start to finish definitely feels like coming into hope and I wonder if that’s what the title Come June is about?
Not much of a theme to my knowledge. All I know is Come June is interchangeable with riding out the winter.
As someone who has an incredibly busy touring schedule as well as a young family, when do you find the time to delve deep and write such beautiful songs?
During naps and after 8pm.
How has it been working alongside your partner Sarah Jones not only when touring but also on your own project?
It’s very natural. We’re side by side in nearly everything we do. It would be quite strange to make music totally on my own without her around.
Will there come a time when you will have to choose between a solo career or collaborating with other people? Or do you feel you will always be drawn to both?
You never know.
If you could have a year of no commitments or responsibilities, what would you do?