DESPITE his hit Let Her Go topping the charts in 16 countries, Passenger loves off-grid experiences and says he will never stop busking.
The Brit troubadour, currently touring in the US, told DJ Christian O’Connell: “It’s been quite a rollercoaster but I still busk. I was busking in Dublin yesterday, and Brighton at the weekend.
“It’s a really honest way of getting your music to people and it means they can watch your stuff for free.”
While some newly famous artists get sucked into the whirlwind lifestyle of nightclubs and limousines, Passenger (real name Mike Rosenberg) prefers exactly the opposite. “I tend to disappear. I went to Costa Rica and it was just me, the rainforest and spider monkeys,” he says. “It was lovely. I value time on my own.”
“No matter how low I was feeling, music never felt like a mistake,” says the British singer, who grew up in Brighton, England. “I traveled on my own, busking for years, staying at the cheapest places, like a shared dorm in a hostel. Pouring my heart and soul out in the street and no one even stops to listen, that’s difficult. But music has never been a choice for me.”
The nomadic life
Influenced by his father’s record collection, comprised of American greats like Paul Simon and Neil Young, Passenger, now 29, started busking when he was 22. He has since lived a largely nomadic life, his delicate approach to folk music often inspired by people watching and the characters he meets on his travels. “I never got into music to make money or be famous,” he says. “I make it to connect with people.”
The newly minted VH1 You Oughta Know Artist got an early boost from his opening gig on fellow Brit folk artist Ed Sheeran’s 2012 North American tour and has since been gaining momentum. Shazam predicted that Passenger’s songLet Her Go, off his fifth album All the Little Lights, would be a summer anthem, hitting No. 1 on the music identification app’s charts in 14 countries. Last year, Shazam predicted that Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know would be a summer anthem, and everybody knows how that turned out.
The music video for Let Her Go has racked up 65 million page views on YouTube. Rosenberg made his national TV debut on The Tonight Show earlier this month and is currently on his North American headlining tour, which wraps up Sept. 7 in Orlando.
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