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Q&A: Mitch Rowland talks origins and creative process of debut album ‘Come June’

In black and white, Mitch Rowland sits by a window. Following the release of his debut album, “Come June,” Rowland will perform at the Troubadour on Friday. (Courtesy of Luke Atkinson)

“Come June”

Mitch Rowland 

Erskine Records / Giant Music

Oct. 6

By Talia Sajor

Oct. 6, 2023 2:00 p.m.

Mitch Rowland is going all the way back in his debut album.

On Friday, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter released his indie-folk album “Come June” and will perform at the Troubadour to mark his first solo project. The LP includes 12 tracks with titles such as “Here Comes The Comeback” and “Bluebells.”

Rowland spoke to the Daily Bruin’s Talia Sajor about what listeners can expect from his debut album and how it ultimately came to fruition.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[Related: Music preview: Upcoming albums bring something for all kinds of listeners to cozy up to]

Daily Bruin: How would you describe “Come June”?

Mitch Rowland: It’s a snapshot to me. These were all songs that I had to imagine on a really small level because of the snapshot nature I was providing them with. In order to realize what they were and wrap my head around writing – solely writing my own first batch – (I) had to dream them very little. Then as time went on, got in with Rob (Rob Schnapf), who produced, (and) they turned into slightly bigger ideas. To me, it’s a quick breath. It ended up being 37 minutes. It just wanted to be a quick thing that you could get through top to bottom in no time.

DB: Your producer Rob Schnapf also regularly produced Elliott Smith’s albums. What was the experience like working with Schnapf on your work?

MR: All these things have kind of been untangling these coincidences. It was kind of put to me, a list of producers, between 10 or 12 people on the page, and I just kept shaking my head. Then Sarah, my wife, was with Rob. She came home – and she makes most of my important decisions – so she said, “Just make your record with Rob. I think you’d like him.” And I didn’t know the caliber of this guy. I didn’t know anything. The only stuff I knew of him was the last 10 years of Kurt Vile.

All these records that Rob is known for, I’m the last person to find out. This is all music I’ve never listened to, so when I talk about dreaming up little songs I say that with the size of my voice right in there as well. I think that being the way I can get music out of me happens to draw similarities to a guy like Elliott. It’s insanely coincidental that the guy randomly walked in and met with the guy somewhat in charge of those records, so I’ve become a fan of Rob and Elliott.

As I’ve been untangling this thing, there are parallels between that and when I started working with Harry (Harry Styles). I didn’t really know who he was, and all the shit that can get in the way of your idea of someone and who they are and what they’ve done, there’s none of that from the beginning. So I’m glad I’ve learned about Rob later rather than earlier.

[Related: Q&A: Justin Hurwitz discusses musical adaptations for La La Land in Concert]

DB: Do you feel like working alongside Harry Styles, on both his albums and tours, had any effect on your creative process going into “Come June”?

MR: I think everything has made me ready to be the one in charge. I’ve become friends with the producers and I hang out with them on my own. I’m like the pinch hitter on the baseball team – just tap me on the helmet when you need me to go in. Being a guitar player – well, I go between guitar and drums – but you just insert yourself as needed.

I was in a comfortable role with the producers in that situation, but I was also a sponge and learning so much about being in studios – what makes up a good recording, learning about tracking guitars and tricks, things that, how to kind of recreate your favorite sounds. So over the years learning all that, building that education, made me way more comfortable when it came to being alone with a producer, but alone on my terms, not as a guy in the corner of the room.

Because Ben Harper was on a song, I was expressing to him my nervousness, and he said, “You have nothing to worry about. It’s going to be great.” I think I was more prepared than I realized at the time. Obviously, Rob was a great fit, but it could have not gone that way with another producer. I got lucky and got it right on the first try.

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Talia Sajor | Arts editor
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
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