Interview: Mike Posner
Fri, 05 Feb 2010 08:21:03
Mike Posner Videos
Mike Posner deserves an "A" for creativity.
The soon-to-be Duke University grad's mixtapes feature the kind of musical alchemy that spawns entire genres. On A Matter of Time and One Foot Out the Door, Posner stirs up an intoxicatingly infectious concoction of hip hop, electro, soul and even a sprinkling of rock 'n' roll for good measure. With tracks like "Cooler than Me," he comes across like a one man Gnarls Barkley belting out unforgettable hooks over quirky and eccentric space-age beats. He recorded all of this while he was preparing for finals too; that's the craziest thing. Now, he's got the time to put the finishing touches on his forthcoming major label debut (J Records) and collaborate with everyone from Kid Cudi to Bun B.
Mike Posner sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino to discuss telling all kinds of kooky stories on wax, a kinship with Donnie Darko and preparing for his last philosophy final.
Your sound has a little bit of electro and a little bit of hip hop. Could that be called "futuristic soul?"
That's what I'm going for! [Laughs] I appreciate that, man. I just try to make music that's not corny—that people will still like [Laughs].
Do you typically start songs with a beat or a story idea?
I really pride myself on my concepts. I think that's what makes my music different. My concepts are always rooted in reality and things that have happened to me. I usually start with a concept on top of my hook and then I build a track around the song. My collaborators and I are big "song" guys. I'll write the song, and then make the music later. You can always make the music better and build on it. Usually, I'll have an idea. We'll record it and lay down some scratch drums. I'll write the whole song and then go back and produce it.
So the stories are the most important thing?
Oh yeah, most definitely!
Songs like "Drug Dealer Girl" and "Evil Woman" feel like characters. You could be making your own sonic Pulp Fiction…
Maybe we should work together?! [Laughs] You have so many ideas. I've never thought about that; it's crazy. Maybe, we should do a big concept album. It's a good idea!
What is it about these people that makes them song-worthy?
It's tough to say…I think they're not that special, and that's why it works. There are people in my life you could meet and have no idea a song is about them. That's why people can connect and relate with the music, because there are people like that in their lives as well.
Your descriptions are poetic, but really direct at the same time. Do you read a lot while you're writing?
Not while I'm writing…in between songs definitely! This year, I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point right now. I just watched The Wrestler a few days ago. I like to do things that put my mind to work in different ways. Your mind works differently when you're reading a book than when you're watching TV than when you're watching a movie than when you're writing a song. It's a good thing to feed your mind all the time and keep it sharp.
By pulling from so many different places, you can create your own style.
I've noticed that when I'm in between books, I come up with much less stuff. When I'm reading, I come up with a lot more song ideas.
You made a big jump from A Matter of Time to One Foot Out the Door. Where does the full-length album take you?
In some respects, the full-length album won't abandon what A Matter of Time meant and stood for, but musically it's on an entirely different plane than either of the mixtapes. There's definitely a leap in production quality and my vocal ability from A Matter of Time to One Foot Out the Door. That trend is certainly not going to stop or change on the full-length. These songs are on another level for me. I love the stuff that I have out now, but I can't wait for the world to hear the new music. I'm still banging out really good songs. I travel with the microphone. I work on the planes, I work in hotel rooms, you name it. Every week, there's another song for the record [Laughs].
So you're almost done with school?
I finished early in three-and-a-half years with a 3.59 and a record deal [Laughs]. My last final was for a philosophy class. It was a three-hour final. I had to write four really big essays. I turned that paper in and went straight to the studio. The next day I was on a flight. I've been off the road one day since then. It was the "Philosophy of Sports." We had to take a stance on all of these different scenarios and say if they were ethical or not. There was no right answer; you just had to defend your point well.
If you were to compare your record to a movie, what would you compare it to?
Wow, good question! I'm thinking it's going to be a mixture of Donnie Darko and Garden State. It's going to be crazy!
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…