Singer/songwriter Michael Brinkworth sat down and chatted to me about #Berlin and the plans this Australian has for his future.
Annabel Kohlmeier: Hey Michael, would you say Berlin is much different from the rest of Germany?
Michael Brinkworth: Yes of course. Berlin is weird and I like it, so much that it makes me wonder why everything is so normal in other cities around Germany/Europe. I immediately fell in love with the city when I passed through as a traveller in 2011 - it was a place where I kept coming back and quickly made a great network of creative friends. After 3 years on the road, I spent 6 months back in Australia and returned to Berlin with the intention of making it my base to focus on #Music. It’s been awhile since then and I haven’t found a better place to live as a musician - the living costs are quite cheap, the quality of life is great, it’s very international and full of interesting, creative, musical people.
AK: You are also performing with a band? How much do these gigs differ from your solo concerts?
Michael: The solo concerts are a bit more flexible for me as a performer. They can potentially be more intimate, especially with the softer songs, and spontaneous, if my mood changes and decide to play a song that just popped into my head. Playing with the band takes the music to a completely different level - you potentially have a wider range of dynamics to play with as a performer. I would say the songs are served better, especially with the full band. I really enjoy doing both, for these reasons.
AK: Can you say something about the Michael Brinkworth Trio?
Michael: We have been playing together for almost 2 years. Hal Strewe (bass) and Stefan Bregenzer (drums) are both extremely accomplished musicians of the highest calibre. They both have other projects and are really in demand, so I’m grateful that they believed in my songs since the start, our musical relationship continues to grow stronger and we have become great friends along the way. Since the release of my album, “Somewhere To Run From", produced with Michael Bennetsen last year, I have expanded the band. Alongside Hal and Stefan, the full line-up includes: Tim Granbacka (keys/organ), Fritjof Brandt (slide/electric guitar) and Frank Dasent (trombone). I see the music evolving into its truest form with these guys.
The personal touch
AK: Are many of your songs based on personal experiences? What are your thoughts on songwriting?
Michael: Yes - I would not be able to sing about something I didn’t believe in. I need to have experienced it first-hand in some way, even if it’s about another person, it always comes back to how I feel about something. Good songwriters write about universal themes from the heart and soul. It has to have enough specifics to be related to your story, so you can believe in it and sing it, but enough generality for it to be interpreted however one wants to. You don’t wanna shove a story down somebody’s throat, if you know what I mean. Some songs can come altogether (lyrics/melody/chords) in 5 minutes (from the “big pen in the sky” as Townes Van Zandt said) and it’s best to let them come and not edit too much, and others take crafting and more discipline. I am always trying to get better at it, and that’s the thing that keeps me going.
AK: What are your future plans?
Michael: I just released a new EP, “Weird Ones” (https://michaelbrinkworth.bandcamp.com/album/weird-ones-ep), which is a collection of songs I recorded in a very basic lo-fi way with a couple of my bandmates on a 4-track tape recorder - a stark contrast to my last studio album. In February, I’m recording a new album in Finland, followed by a Baltic solo acoustic tour. I’m also recording a live album with the full band in April, and plan to return home for my first Australian east coast tour later in the year after another European summer of shows. All my previous releases are on Bandcamp, as well as Spotify, and all major online stores