English singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg doesn't hide his excitement when asked about his upcoming tour of South Africa.
The 35-year-old, better known by his stage name "Passenger", was blown away by South African fans when he last performed in the country as a supporting act during Ed Sheeran’s tour of the country.
“The response was so fantastic that I just knew I had to return. I had the most incredible time opening up for Ed in South Africa. I couldn't believe how lovely the crowd were, and the response online has been completely insane!”
Rosenberg, best known for his hit song Let Her Go, will be in the country in November for his first solo tour.
Rosenberg will perform in Joburg on November 23 at the Ticketpro Dome, and three days later, in Cape Town at the Grand Arena, GrandWest.
This week, the Saturday Star chatted to the English singer:
In 2009, Passenger broke up and you continued your solo career. Was this a difficult time and have you enjoyed performing solo?
Yeah, it was a really difficult time, perhaps the lowest point. I was broke, so I started busking and quickly realised that people were responding very positively to me playing on my own. I spent the next five years travelling, busking and playing solo shows.
Would you say your life changed with the release of Let Her Go?
When Let Her Go got big, it changed the way some people saw me. It was challenging to stay true to myself, to the principles of being a busker. There's this weird balance of letting the snowball roll down the mountain and gather momentum while also trying to shape it. You don't want it to turn into something you don't want it to be. I just tried my hardest to carry on writing songs I believed in and recording them with people * loved and trusted.
Passenger is well known for its break-up songs. Do you mind that your success comes at the expense of your former girlfriends?
Ha-ha! I suppose that is one of the many downsides of dating a singer/songwriter. In truth though, it's a sign of respect to have a song written about you. It shows it meant something.
You've got a pretty spectacular beard. Do you have any beard tips for our readers?
Ha-ha! Thanks. I don't use any fancy beard oils or anything - just wash it every now and then. That's important!
At 17, you announced to your parents that you were dropping out of school to become a musician. How did they react?
Hmmmm, not altogether positively. I understand though. When your pot-smoking 17-year-old son tells you he's dropping out of school to play music, I can imagine it sets some alarm bells ringing. As soon as they saw how hard I was working though they really got behind it.
Passenger's success took six years, one band break-up, hundreds of gigs in small European pubs, countless hours busking on the streets and five albums. How tough has the journey been to get to where you are today?
And that was just the first part. People always talk about "making it" like once you have a big song that's it, you can just sit back and relax. Maintaining it is actually harder. Suddenly there is huge expectation and pressure. I feel very grateful to have somehow managed to get to this pointand hope there will be many more years of insanity.