Before the Ed Sheeran show, I got the opportunity to interview the incredible musical talent, Passenger aka Mike Rosenberg. Passenger has been a huge success all over the UK and Australia and has just recently started to hit the North American market.
His emotional lyrics and unique sound could be described as folk, but with a new-age twist, and I was more than happy to have a chat with this burgeoning artist.
My first impression: easygoing , genuine, friendly.
Vancouver Weekly: I’m just going to ask some questions about you – act as if I don’t even know you. So, who are you and where are you from?
Passenger: Haha okay! I’m Mike aka Passenger aka Mike Rosenberg and I’m from Brighton in the UK, but for the last 5-6 years I’ve just been traveling like a lunatic so I’m not really sure where I’m from anymore!
Vancouver Weekly: Well, you’re very well traveled! Have you been traveling everywhere?
P: Europe and Australia mainly but I’ve just started branching into North America though so it’s really exciting.
Vancouver Weekly: Well, we’re really happy to have you! How long have you been in the music industry?
P: Quite a while. I started performing after school when I was 16 years old and had odd jobs here and there. For the past six, seven years I’ve been focusing just on my music.
Vancouver Weekly: How did you start with music – did you have any influences as a kid?
P: I learned classical guitar when I was really young and my parents were really encouraging about music so that sort of started the path. When I was about 14-15, I started to write songs, which were absolutely dreadful. But as I kept going the songs became better and better – it was just so bloody obvious that this was what I wanted to do. I never really applied myself in school and music was the only thing I wanted to spend my time doing.
Vancouver Weekly: Describe to me your music – what would you say it is?
P: I guess you could say it’s folk-based. It’s simply a solo guitar with vocals. The music I write is very lyrically arranging from trying to be funny to very sad kind of songs.
Vancouver Weekly: Who would you compare your music to?
P: I don’t ever quite know how to answer that question but I’m heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Neil Young although I’m nowhere near as good as those guys!
Vancouver Weekly: How long have you been touring with Ed Sheeran?
P: Well I’ve known Ed since he was about 15 back when we were in Cambridge and we became really good friends. I started to tour with him on and off for about a year now. It’s really exciting and it’s good for him because he has a mate on the road with him and not just some stranger!
Vancouver Weekly: What would you say is your favorite thing about touring?
P: I love that I get to wake up at a different town every morning and night. I get to meet thousands of people every day. It’s a crazy way of living and I know that each day is different from the other so it certainly keeps things interesting. This tour is looking like it’s going to end for me at around mid-December so it’s quite a stretch – that’s the only downside to it. It’s going really well at the moment and it’s fantastic because that’s what every musician wants. When the opportunity is in front of you, you have to maximize it and there’s no time to relax but I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
Vancouver Weekly: What are your plans after the tour?
P: I’m going to have a month off and spend Christmas with my family for the first time in 4 years. Then after that, I’m going to headline my own shows in the UK and Australia.
Vancouver Weekly: Congratulations, I’m really excited for you! So now tell me about your new album.
P: It’s called All the Little Lights and it’s slightly different than what I’ve done in the past. It has a bigger sound and is much more produced. I’ve made records where it’s been just myself in a room with a guitar and I think with those types of albums the fans get that honestly and truth but I wanted to do something a little bit different. The songs that were written I felt could hold a bigger arrangement – It’s a new kind of folk!
Vancouver Weekly: Tell me something random – what is the most embarrassing song or artist on your iPod/MP3 player at the moment?
P: oh my goodness. I actually got called out on this the other day. I have the Harry Potter Audio books! Do you know who Steven Fry is? He’s this hilarious English comedian and he’s the voice for it. I listen to it before I go to sleep. It just sends me to sleep on the tour bus!
MP: That’s hilarious but also very different because it isn’t anything music related!
P: Yes. My career is now over. [laughs]
We concluded the interview with a friendly handshake and a walk to the door. He mentioned to me that his pre-concert ritual consists of destroying his dressing room, jokingly of course. If you could see the looks Security gave him, you would have feared for his life. All in all, great guy and I wish him all the success in the future.
My last impression: hilarious, fun, and positive.
For more information on Passenger check out: