Mikey Woodbridge strikes – with his flashy style, he catches your attention within seconds
The Australian-born musician Mikey Woodbridge lives in Berlin. When he’s performing his songs, the audience gets completely drawn in. His fragile yet strong, confident voice makes the lyrics come to life in the audience’s imagination, creating images and fascination in their minds. The Forumist found out exactly how Woodbridge creates his own experience.
When and why did you start doing music?
Mikey: “I don’t think there is an actual point in your life where you decide to start doing music or anything where you creatively express yourself. It’s either in you from the beginning and you just do it. Or you don’t.”
Why did you choose music as the medium to express yourself? What opportunities does it offer to you?
Mikey: “I don’t think music is just one medium. It is limitless. It is creating a soundscape and listening experience. Song concepts and lyrics, poetry, instrumentation, voice, sound frequencies, to movement and dance. Creating music is like painting a picture with so many paths and mediums to choose from. Then performing it and being able to manipulate the sound and performance in so many ways every single time. I like the feeling of not knowing what I’ll do next, whether it’s writing my next song or performing it in the moment.”
Is Mikey Woodbridge your real name or your artist name? If so, what does it stand for? Is there a story behind it?
Mikey: “Yes, that’s my real name. But MIKEY. is my artist name. I like writing it like that with a point, because I think one word can tell a whole story. Whether you know the story or not, I like that it encourages the use of one’s imagination and the sense of wonder.”
Your lyrics are very emotional and seem to be intimate. Are there personal experiences behind them?
Mikey: “Yes, writing songs is a very personal journey and even self-discovery therapy for me. I like what I learn about myself and the world through writing songs. It’s how I make sense of what’s going on around me. Sometimes I write personal, vulnerable lyrics, where I feel even embarrassed to perform the song, because they are such personal, intimate stories. But I’ve learnt that the feeling of embarrassment is a good one, because I know an audience is going to connect with that personal experience and vulnerability more than anything.”
What inspires your music?
Mikey: “Life. Moments. The unknown. Mystery.”
Bringing music and experience together, what do you experience when you’re listening to/making music?
Mikey: “It’s a journey of trial and error when writing a song. It can be a really thrilling process, but also sometimes a stressful one. There are songs that I’ve written in one night. Others where it’s taken me six months or more to get it right. Trying to condense so many ideas, lyrics and directions into one small song can be a total mindfuck, but I love it.”
How do you create an experience with your performance and music for your audience?
Mikey: “For me it is very important to be connected to the moment. I feel I really have to connect my core to that present moment and really root myself into the ground and space around me. I like to imagine when I’m performing that I’m sucking up millions of invisible energies through the centre of the earth. They run up through my feet and out through my voice and movement. I feel like that’s partly why my voice is so big and colourful on stage. Because I’m not just performing as one being, but connecting myself to the universe and something that is more timeless and endless and selfless.”
In these times of music-streaming services, do you think people are missing the real music experience when they consume everything only on their mobile devices?
Mikey: “We are just moving forward with the times and discovering new ways to experience and discover music. It’s a good thing. There is no wrong or right way to have a real music experience.”
We loved your performance at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week. You managed to bring music and fashion together by creating an awesome atmosphere and you left the audience almost breathless. Is this your goal as an artist – to spread emotions through your performance?
Mikey: “That was a collaborative performance for the designer Chaz Aracil together with dancers Benjamin Milan and Gianna Gi from London. Myself and Jon Dark, from the band Evvol, made the music together. It was something special. I like to make an audience feel something, yes – or get them experiencing something they weren’t expecting and catching them off guard.”
Does Berlin have an impact on your work?
Mikey: “Yes. The city can be magic for inspiration and ideas. There is no shortage of new experiences and connections. But it can also get repetitive if you don’t challenge yourself to seek new ones. It also has its dark sides, too, and sometimes I find it hard to channel the motivation into nursing my ideas and creating new work. Finding your own balance that works is the key. I’ve been in Berlin now for just over two years and I feel like I’m only just finding my feet and balancing everything that’s happening.”
In Scare U Away/Erotica, you sing “Gender was yesterday.” What does gender mean to you?
Mikey: “In my music, I’m trying to break gender down and the way humans are taught to think of gender as just a man or a woman. That song is about seducing a man who is attracted to me, but doesn’t understand his attraction to me. So gender doesn’t mean anything to me, but rather I’m trying to challenge the way humans are taught to see it. Helping people understand multi-gendered or non-gendered creatures and beings is more important.”
What inspires your style?
Mikey: “The thought of being the embodiment of freedom.”
What was the most memorable experience you ever created on stage?
Mikey: “The last show I did here in Berlin with my good friend Oozing Gloop at Spektrum. It was called Blue Tears, Brown Temples. It was also the first time I let the audience see a different part of me, a comedy side and sense of humour where I let different guards within myself down. So I was being vulnerable in my music, which is dark, serious and full of emotions, but then also channelling this comedic presence, presenting the show and having this humorous chemistry with my friend on stage. It was like feeling many different layers of gratification, because there were so many performance elements that we put into a show for the first time.”
I think there are a lot of people who look up to you because you seem to be so confident in yourself. What do you want them to understand? Do you have a motto? Or a message?
Mikey: “Don’t look up to me. Focus on doing you and doing the best you.”
What will come next? Are you going on tour or releasing an LP?
Mikey: “I’m working on my first official EP. Finally. It will come with videos and a whole series of visual elements. It’s a slow process, but it’s coming.”
Words by Ole Siebrecht
Photography by Harling & Darsell
Styling by Gabriela Pintado Terroba
Hair and make-up: Katja Maassen at Liganord
1. Blouse by Maks
3. Dress by Litichevskaya, shoes talent’s own
4. Kimono by Assembled Half
5. Top and trousers by Litichevskaya
6. Shirt by Assembled Half
7. Blouse by Maks