Interview: 5 Minutes at Woodford with Passenger

Passenger
Image Courtesy of KT Bell

On day 3 of the Woodford Folk Festival Mike Rosenberg (aka Passenger) took five minutes out of his busy schedule to chat to Timber and Steel’s Miladyred.

Miladyred: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us.
Passenger: No worries at all.
MLR: You’ve just done a wonderful set at the Grande, is that your third gig for the Festival?
P: Second so far, I have another gig tomorrow at the Joy Luck venue
MLR: How have you been finding the whole Woodford experience?
P: I have loved it. I’m actually cheating – I’m not camping in 83 acres of mud [T&S would like to advise readers that this statement may have included some artistic licence and exaggeration – T&S spent a very comfortable week camping with minimal mud!]. We’ve got a little cottage half an hour away, it’s been very civilized to be honest. The gigs have been amazing, just a whole set up here, people are just lovely and real music fans.
MLR: You seemed amazed by the response you got to the crowd joining in with your last song of the set “Holes”. It seemed to take you a little bit by surprise.
P: Yeah, well they were such a warm crowd. I often do that song at the end where you ask people to sing along and you know, people do it but there was a real enthusiasm about it today. Sometimes when you’re on stage you go through whole gigs without really noticing that you are there and your mind is all over the place. Today I had a couple of real “in the moment” moments. That was wonderful. It’s a big stage and when you look out to all the people really seeming to enjoy it, you get the feeling “I’m really starting to get somewhere with this”.
MLR: That feeling of “this is why I do what I do”?
P: Precisely
MLR: How true is it that Flight of the Crow was funded entirely from busking?
P: It’s entirely true.
MLR: We know that some mainstream media outlets, such as Rolling Stone were a little dubious about the claim.
P: We also got 4 out of 5 stars in their review of the album so you’ll get absolutely nothing bad about Rolling Stone from me! Of course people are going to have their doubts about this record. It’s a collaborations record, some people may look at it negatively thinking “oh it’s a big marketing scam” but the truth is I have no record deal. I came over, I busked for six months. Made all the money and put it all into the record. Everyone I met for that record, it was all done in a very natural and organic way. Whatever you do there are going to be people who are haters
MLR: Timber and Steel are definitely not in that category!
P: That’s lovely
MLR: You seemed to have lucked out on that album and connected with some of the cream of nu-folk in Australia such as Lior, Katie Noonan, Josh Pyke, Boy & Bear
P: Yes the list goes on! I was so lucky and people were just so open to doing it. You know I think it was because they got that it was all off my own back and it was done from the right place. It wasn’t “oh I’ve got 200 grand, I’ll go buy someone in to do the album”. It’s a bit of fun and people were doing it for the music
MLR: The joy of making music and making music with friends
P: That’s what it should be about. People used to collaborate all the times in the sixties. Write songs for each other, it should be like a communal thing. Musicians should have a community where they can hang out and people can rely on each other and work together.
MLR: If you look at the older albums, you see it, the musicians who’d just turn up for sessions and play on each other’s tracks, like Richard Thompson, playing guitar for a track for Nick Drake on Five Leaves Left.
P: Yes, exactly that, you know, that moment when you go “that’s James Taylor playing banjo” or whatever, it’s brilliant. It should all be like that.
MLR: So you’re touring Eastern Australia in 2011 with Old Man River?
P: Yes, I can’t wait
MLR: You’ve always been known as an advocate of up and coming acts, is there anyone you think that Timber & Steel should be keeping an eye on?
P: Let me have a little think – there’s a girl called Georgia Mooney from Perth, well she’s originally from Sydney but is now based in Perth at the moment. She’s got a cracking voice. She’s young and still learning her thing but she’s going to be big. Actually not so up and coming but Matt Corby, he’s just brilliant
MLR: He’s one of Timber and Steel’s favourite sons
P: He doesn’t get the recognition he deserve. I’m sure he will in the next couple of years, once he loses the Pop Idol thing. He’s just a great artist. He’s got bags of talent and he’s going to be a huge star.
MLR: Mike, thanks very much
P: No problem at all, thank you.

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