Passenger: I didn't feel the pressure then and I don't feel it now
|Photo by Shervin Lainez|
The meaningful lyrics from Passenger's hit single "Let Her Go" only took Mike Rosenberg 45 minutes to write. So far, the breakup song has over 363 million views on YouTube, and has allowed the folk singer-songwriter to go from playing small pubs in England to world tours. In June, his new album Whispers was released, and it's just as full of thoughtful lyrics bashing social media as All the Little Lights but with a more upbeat tone.
Ahead of Sunday's First Avenue show, Gimme Noise talked with Rosenberg about his new album, social media, and his love for lyrics.
Gimme Noise: In an interview you said you hate Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" because it is cheesy. What do you do if you find your lyrics are becoming too cheesy?
Mike Rosenberg: [Laughs] I don't know. I certainly don't hate Celine Dion. It was a joke. I think lyrics are really important. You've got the chance to say something -- to say something in a cool way in a song. I think lyrics sometimes take a backseat and aren't really a priority but to me they're absolutely important to have. I just care an awful lot about lyrics.
How do you feel knowing your song is being played on the radio next to other cheesy songs and songs that are not highly thought of?
When I think about lyrics I certainly don't think that every song needs to be some sort of "Let Her Go" song, you know what I mean? I love pop music. I love singing to it and it just takes you back. There's a time and a place for that sort of thing. I'm actually lucky that "Let Her Go" got radio play and that it crossed over into that kind of more mainstream arena. It's an incredibly lucky thing for any artist. I feel so lucky.
You also sing about hating social media, but social media plays a huge role in the success of artists. How do you deal with hating something that is necessary?
I don't dislike social media. It's more my experience. Facebook and YouTube are so important and without those two things I don't think any music could happen. I don't hate social media. It's brilliant. It's an amazing time that we live in. I think my problem sometimes is the amount that it takes up in our lives, you know. If you're not careful, you stop consuming real life and real experiences and real people sometimes. I just think we need to be careful and not lose sight of what's important, you know.
Going into Whispers, did you feel as though you had to have a certain sound fans would like because of the success of "Let Her Go?"
No I didn't. When you have a big song you can think about it in two ways. You can think, "On my next album I need to be successful and have three 'Let Her Go' songs and try to change that sound that was successful in the first place" or you can say, "How amazing that my song did really well and now I can move and do another album." You know, you have to be realistic about your level of expectations. I am folk singer, I'm a singer-songwriter. I don't expect every song I release to have that much attention, you know. It's crazy what happened with "Let Her Go." Now it's opened the doors with my music. I think you would be crazy to go along with that expectation. A lot of the songs I've written even before "Let Her Go" did really well. Honestly I didn't feel pressure then and I really don't feel the pressure now either. I'm really proud of it, the record. Of course it's not going to do as mostly well as All the Little Lights did. I'm fine and I didn't get into making music to sell a million records. I do what I love to do.
What kind of responses are you getting from fans?
It's been really really good. It's amazing. I've released six albums and just that alone is exciting. Thousands of people over the world were inspired when the CD came out. Just that alone makes me so proud. The reaction has been incredible so far. I can't wait to get out on the road and do whatever.