Passenger interview: “The version of me who wrote ‘Let her go’ was a different guy”

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Michael David Rosenbergbetter known as Passengerhas just presented an anniversary edition of his album All The Little Lights with very special re-recordings and collaborations including their world hit Let her go, his best-selling song with which he conquered charts around the world. 10 years have passed since the moment when Mike Rosenberg (as his Zoom name reads when he connects for the interview) his life changed as if from day to night.

A decade later, the Briton reissues his most special album. The album is completely re-recorded and recreated, now providing you with the experience and wisdom that you may have lacked then. to a street musician, as he defines himself, who managed to knock down all the doors and go around the world with his message.

For this new journey he has chosen good companions and collaborators: Foy Vance, Gabrielle Aplin, Nina Nesbitt or Ed Sheeran himself. And having them in his new musical adventure was not easy as he himself tells us in this interview. Do not miss it!

I love playing in Spain. I don’t know if it will be in Madrid or Barcelona or both but it will probably be in the summer

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger), in WECB Classic

WECB Classic How are you?

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger): I’m doing great. And you?

Well also. Enjoying the 10th anniversary edition of All the little lights. What does this disk have?

It’s been a very big 10 years, it’s been a very big 10 years. I think this album for me is just a celebration of songs, especially of course Let Her Go, the song that changed my life. When I put myself in front of this album I wanted to celebrate, reflect and remember the songs. And also give the sounds a richer, deeper and also better dimension. It’s been a really fun project.

I think looking to the past is always a risky decision. What have you seen about yourself that has changed in all this time?

It has changed a lot. Looking back at these songs has made me realize how much I have grown as a person and also as a musician in these years. The version of me that wrote these songs was a different guy. I think it’s been an exciting and interesting experience to return to these songs.

Did you imagine 10 years ago that this was going to be your path?

No. When I wrote these songs I was practically a street musician who played in pubs and bars with very small audiences, 20 or 30 people. I never imagined that I would be able to have this success, this career, traveling around the world playing my music for people who love it. It was a wonderful surprise to me that this happened.

How do you remember those years?

I remember it with great affection. It was a beautiful moment in my life. I think I have always been very happy to live in the moment of my life that I am in. It was wonderful to be able to live through those years but it is also incredible to be here now.

When I put myself in front of this album I wanted to celebrate, reflect and remember the songs

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger), in WECB Classic

Is ‘Dreams come slow and go so fast’ one of the lines you’re most proud of?

Yes, the lyrics of that song (Let her go) are really really simple, but very effective. I think that’s one of the reasons for its success. Often the most successful songs when they are created talk about the lives or experiences of those who wrote them but then when someone listens to them they can feel it as their own, like their own feelings and emotions. That’s a very powerful thing and that’s just what Let Her Go does.

What do you think when you see the figure of 3,544 million views of Let Her Go on your YouTube channel?

I don’t know what to say. The only way I can explain it is that feeling you get when you look at the stars, you see the universe and at some point you start to realize how big some things are and your brain stops understanding what’s going on because it’s too much. great what you see. I think Let Her Go has something of that. Their figures on YouTube or Spotify are crazy. My brain is unable to comprehend how huge that song is. If I think twice I realize that I am incredibly lucky because so many people write beautiful songs that no one listens to. For some reason, my song has gone around the world. And it means a lot to a lot of people and I feel lucky.

It’s like half the planet has heard your song at least once…

Yes. Although it may have been my mother and father playing the song 3 billion times (laughs). They are very proud of me (laughs).

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What was the process like to convince stars like Foy Vance or Ed Sheeran to be able to re-record these songs?

It was great. It was actually more of a technical job that fell to my manager because you’re involving four different artists, talking to four managers, four record labels, blah blah blah. A lot of work had to be done to be able to have them on the project but from my point of view it was wonderful on a creative level. Opening up my experiences and working with some of the greatest artists in the world and also some friends was really fun.

How would you describe your musical journey with 15 albums and 20 years of career?

I don’t know. Well, it has been 20 years of learning and incredible experiences. Very hard times at the beginning, certainly, trying to find my place in the music industry. To continue improving every day as a musician and as a composer trying to understand this business, because this is what it really is for me because I am an independent musician without any major record company behind me. They were very hard years, of great learning and experiences but also with great and wonderful moments traveling the world and performing in beautiful venues. I feel very lucky to have lived this life. It has been extraordinary.

Is there something therapeutic about returning to this album after the pandemic?

Yes Yes. I wrote a lot during the pandemic and it was a strange thing for me to have to stop, stop giving concerts… But it was interesting for me to hit the pause button because I think it’s something I wouldn’t have done any other way. Sometimes you have to stop to digest and process everything. It was also a very important break for me because I was always on the road giving concerts at one of the best times. I’m a workaholic so I wouldn’t have stopped if it hadn’t been for this terrible event that also put the really important things at the top of our priorities.

After the break, you’ve already pressed the play button… when can we see you on tour?

We will do a lot of concerts next year, also some in Spain. We’re just trying to find the best time. I love playing in Spain. I don’t know if it will be in Madrid or Barcelona or both but it will probably be in the summer. I love it, I love Spain. So I can’t wait…

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger), in concert in Milan in February 2023

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger), in concert in Milan in February 2023 / SOPA Images

I never imagined that I would be able to have this success, this career, traveling around the world playing my music for people who love it. It was a wonderful surprise to me that this happened

Mike Rosenberg (Passenger), in WECB Classic

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed waiting for you to say that because when we met, I don’t know if you remember, the police fined you for busking at a surprise show in Madrid 10 years ago…

I don’t remember if I paid the fine or not, but they asked me for my passport. It was crazy, I didn’t think that in Spain they were so strict against music in the street. When someone asks me about it, it is one of the first memories that comes to mind.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.