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Passenger Says Stage Name's More "Mysterious" and "Interesting" than His Actual Name

Credit: Angelo KehagiasPassenger is one of 2013's rising stars, thanks to his hit "Let Her Go," which has gone platinum and reached the top 10.  But it's a safe bet that a lot of people who love the song don't know much about Passenger himself, including his birth name, and why he doesn't use it.

Here's what happened: the British singer/songwriter was born Mike Rosenberg.  He was once in a band that was called Passenger, after a song he wrote, but when they disbanded, he decided to keep the name for himself.

"It wasn't a masterfully conscious decision," he tells ABC News Radio. "When the band broke up, I was at a real crossroads and I didn't really know what to do or, or how to get my music to people, or whether I even wanted to carry on with music -- or whether I could carry on with music.  So I kept the name Passenger and started playing some solo gigs."

He adds, "Before I knew it I just kind of...I really liked it.  I liked the fact that it was, you know, I was going out solo but I was called Passenger.  It was kind of interesting.  It was a bit more mysterious than just going under 'Mike Rosenberg.'"

Mike --er, Passenger also thinks that having such a unique name helps him stand out in today's crowded pop field. "I feel like there's so many male names in music that people need to remember, you know -- John Mayer and Ed Sheeran and James Blunt," he tells ABC News Radio. "It's so many, and I just thought, 'Well, it's probably not the end of the world to set myself aside from that slightly if I can.'"

But what about when he's offstage?  Does he like people yelling, "Hey, Passenger!" when he's walking down the street?  "I don't mind, really, to be honest," he says. "I kind of like 'Hey, Passenger!'  I think it's funny, it always makes me chuckle."

Whatever you want to call him, Passenger just wrapped up a lengthy tour, and for the first time in literally years, he'll be heading home to the U.K. to spend Christmas with his family.  While he's half-Jewish on his dad's side, he celebrates Christmas, not Hanukkah.  What's been keeping him from going home for the holiday is the fact that before he became famous with "Let Her Go," he was a street musician, so he had to go where it was warm to do this thing.  And in December, he says, that meant Australia.

"The last three to five years I've basically spent six months in the Northern Hemisphere while the weather is good.  And when the weather gets colder you go to Australia and New Zealand and spend those months down there," he explains. "So Christmas was always actually sort of sacrificed a little bit."

This year, though, Mike's heading back home to the U.K. to see his mom, dad and sister. "I'm really looking forward to it, actually," he says.  

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio