Life of a Busker
“We meet so many people who don’t have time to listen to our music, but then they end up sitting through a 2 hour busking set. Often we end up having more than 100 people standing and listening to us playing and it gives us goosebumps to think that so many cared. Sometimes someone decides to dance to our songs and other times we get people to sing along. So we have a lot of memorable moments from this life.”Sarah Johansen & Patrick Thomsen
Sarah Johansen and Patrick Thomsen are a duo called ‘Life of a Busker’.
Patrick, 24, grew up in the Denmark countryside close to the little town of Brenderup on the island Fyn. “Music was always around me, as my father played guitar and sang. I started playing and singing when I was 14 and then eventually joined my dad’s band when I was good enough,” he said. “Music was only ever a hobby, until I met Sarah and we found a way to make music a full time job.”
Sarah, 22, grew up in a small town in Denmark called Almind at Jytland. “Opposite Patrick, I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but my dad always listened to a lot of music. I’ve been singing in a church choir for nearly 10 years and then taught myself to play guitar, and that’s where my interest for music really started. Later, I learned to play piano and that became my preferred instrument.”
The young couple who love the travelling lifestyle came up with the idea to busk their way around the world and record their journey on Instagram and Facebook. They began their adventure in January of 2018, travelling across 20 states in the USA in their camper van and entertaining the masses with their formidable musical talents.
They have since busked extensively through Europe and the U.K. including Italy, Switzerland, Germany, The Nederlands, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, England and France, before Coronavirus cut their world tour short in Bali in early March.
The couple have returned home to Denmark. Busker What’s Your Story? caught up with ‘Life of a Busker’ during their busking hiatus, to find out a little more about this delightful duo.
Who are your musical influences and why?
We have both been inspired by a lot of different artists, both before and after we met each other. Patrick has always liked Ed Sheeran, John Mayer and Sarah has a soft spot for Adele, Halsey and Billie Eilish. But we also have artists we are equally inspired by, like Jason Mraz because of his vibe and incredible writing skills, Lewis Capaldi for his awe-inspiring voice.
What are some really memorable moments from busking?
A lot of stuff has happened the last two years and our contact book has seemed to fill up a great amount.
We have met a lot of buskers from a Swedish street magician in Portugal to a group of international buskers in Madrid. We even made a friend in the city of Aarhus where we lived who was willing to help us with our home page, YouTube etc.
We meet so many people who don’t have time to listen to our music, but then they end up sitting through a 2 hour busking set. Often we end up having more than 100 people standing and listening to us playing and it gives us goosebumps to think that so many cared. Sometimes someone decides to dance to our songs and other times we get people to sing along. So we have a lot of memorable moments from this life.
Any funny stories?
When we lived in Madrid a short while ago our tenant from Columbia told us his cousin and her husband were going to visit him, apparently they knew of us and wanted to meet us. We have a pretty decent Instagram account and a lot of people have seen us, but we have never considered ourselves famous in any way, so of course we didn’t believe that two middle-aged people from the other side of the world were our fans!
But suddenly our tenant called out of the blue and said they were outside our apartment and (rather unprepared) we invited these 3 people in, who didn’t speak a word of English. It wasn’t until the cousin came running up the stairs with her phone in hand, ready to take a picture and hug the hell out of us, that we realised they were in fact true fans and so were their daughters.
So we wrote a message to their daughters in a book, gave them an autograph and played a song for them. The cousin ended up crying and went on to invite us to Columbia. A pretty weird and very cool experience.
On your website on your ‘Advice for buskers’ page, you say you have learned what songs to play, and what not to play – can you give some examples?
There are songs that work better in the sense that they connect with more people. Like if a song is extremely popular, or if people have a special feeling towards a song. The songs that work for us are: ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, ‘Shallow’ by Lady Gaga, ‘Someone like you’ by Adele and ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz.
Buskers play a lot of songs which are ‘timeless’. Do you think popular music of today will still be played in 30 years time or have we lost the art of timeless music?
Of course! At the current moment we can’t decide what will be timeless in 30 years, but there will always be new songs we will refer back to. People are already considering Backstreet Boys as timeless, next will probably be Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and so on. ‘Timeless’ is a concept that will forever be evolving, we just need to accept that classics are already in the making.
Do you have many arguments travelling the world together and spending so much time together performing?
We do have ‘discussions’ from time to time, because we are together more than the average couple and we are so extremely passionate about our music.
It’s taken us a long time to really learn who we are as a couple, but also as colleagues and we still have a lot to learn. There will always be something we need to discuss or talk about. but we are always willing to listen to each other and find solutions, because at the end of the day, we love what we do and we love each other.
If you could choose a lyric from any song that sums up life for you, what would that lyric be?
Sarah – “We don’t need the map, we’ll just drive, drive, drive” – Jason Mraz, Lets see what the night can do.
Patrick – “May the road less paved be the one that you follow” by Jason Mraz, Have It All.
The elephant in everyone’s room at the moment – Coronavirus. How badly has your home nation of Denmark been effected?
It is a weird situation. We were called back to Denmark from Bali, before it really took off.
Our country has taken great precautions and acted swiftly to make sure the spread doesn’t get any further. Even our Queen spoke up about the importance of staying inside and washing your hands frequently.
Now we are all waiting and we have had to stay at Patrick’s parent’s home to see what will happen. It means busking is not something we can do for the foreseeable future, but it means we get a lot more time to write songs and be creative.
Denmark is also a great country to live in, because there is so much help from the government so no-one will get fired or go broke in these challenging times. We are extremely hopeful and are quite happy to see how all of mankind seems to come together in getting through this. So, it’s not all bad.
Have you busked in Australia?
We have never busked in Australia, but it was definitely on our list. We even bought flight tickets to go there after Bali. So Australia wasn’t just on the list, it was next on the list! Now we will have to wait for the future. Hopefully we will get there soon.
We hope you do Sarah & Patrick!
In the meantime you can check out more from this fab duo ‘Life as a Busker’ on their socials:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lifeofabusker/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lifeofabusker
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCib_QvY2J77F6KZdc4qmN-g
Website – https://lifeofabusker.dk/