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Mike Posner: ‘Anything can be Inspiring to me’

The American hitmaker talks about his upcoming special acoustic India tour, going to the Grammys as a nominee and future plans


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Mike Posner. Photo: Zach Allia

Mike Posner. Photo: Zach Allia

Mike Posner takes his time with words and sometimes, he won’t say anything as you pause and wait. Over the phone from his hometown of Southfield in Michigan, Posner is quick to admit he’s not much of a talker. He says, “I’m not really good at talking, at communicating, I’m good at singing. I try really hard to communicate. I know that sounds [like] really new age phooey. Because I’m so bad at communicating through text and speech, I really depend on singing to connect with people in a real way.”

During our 15-minute conversation, Posner seems to weigh every word, and at other times, being very sure how to handle questions about future plans. In two short sentences, he confirms that his upcoming collaboration Mansionz (with writer-producer Blackbear) will be an album set to release in a couple of months and that he’d rather not reveal what’s coming up for the rest of 2017. He adds, “I’d rather not reveal those things to you but you’ll see them happen.”

The 28-year-old singer and songwriter behind hits such as “I Took A Pill in Ibiza” and “Cooler Than Me” – who also has co-writing credits with the likes of Justin Bieber and Maroon 5 and has collaborated with Iggy Azalea, Avicii and Diplo, all American Top 40 stars – is bringing a special acoustic set to India as part of Bengaluru venue The Humming Tree’s tour series. Posner will perform in New Delhi on January 25th, in Mumbai on January 26th and in Bengaluru on January 28th.

Ahead of his India tour, Posner talks exclusively to ROLLING STONE India about fame, being nominated for Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys for “I Took a Pill In Ibiza” and his plans to visit Munnar.

Are you nervous about your debut India tour?

No, I’m just really excited, because I know how beautiful the show is going to be. The moments before the show are filled with excitement. It’s almost unbearable, because I just can’t wait. I guess ‘nervous’ implies that you’re sort of dreading the coming moment, [and] ‘excited’ implies that you’re anticipating with joy the coming moment.

Most of your recent photos have you holding an acoustic guitar – is that a statement of where your hits originated? Like a way of being grounded to your roots?

No, I wouldn’t say the acoustic guitar is part of my roots. I started playing acoustic guitar as an adult, three years ago. I never played the guitar growing up, I just learnt how. But I really enjoy it. I would say at times, I’m in love with it. Especially how I perform this album [At Night, Alone], a lot of it was written on the acoustic guitar, but the next one, I won’t have the acoustic as much. I don’t know, we’ll see.

I feel like you’ve learned so many lessons with regards to fame – and that’s something that’s evident in your songs and interviews – is that your wellspring, in a way, to always draw inspiration from as a songwriter?

(thinking) When an artist or writer is at their best, they find inspiration with what seems to be mundane. They find divinity in normalcy. There’s no one topic – and it may sound like I’m evading the question – but there’s no one topic that I focus all my attention on it all the time. It’s more stream of consciousness – anything can be inspiring to me; a glass of water, a red apple sitting on two green ones, the way a woman’s hair falls on her face, over half of her right eye. We see that these things that may seem insignificant become overflowing with color, light and inspiration. It’s not what I’m looking at, it’s how I’m looking at it. Fame can be inspiring to me, but it can also be uninspiring, depending on how I’m looking at it.

Then there’s the Grammys coming up – have you attended before? Is it going to be a nervous night?

I’ve attended once before.

What was that like?

It was pretty expensive (laughs). It was cool to see how the show works and the difference between how things came off in the room and the way they come off on TV. Sometimes, performances that no one was really listening to in the room – people are talking and eating – then you watch the broadcast and they look their best. It’s the best performance of the night. That was really interesting for me. 

You get to meet a lot of people at the Grammys, and it’s different this time, because you’re nominated.

Yeah, I think I’ll probably get to sit closer to the stage.

How are the plans for India coming along? For those not in the know, what is your setup going to be like?

The plan is to come with my friend Ben Darwish, who plays keys. We don’t need to plan it too much. We can tailor the show to each audience. If I feel the room needs to hear a certain song, I can just say, ‘Let’s play this one now’ and we do it. There’s not too much planned. I mean, there’s songs we’re definitely going to play, like our hit songs, of course, but we make the show for the room, which is awesome. I think you’re going to see something that is never going to happen again in exactly that way.

What have you heard about India? Anything you’ve been asking fellow artists who’ve been here?

Not really. I have heard from friends who’ve been there about their experiences. I’m just trying to go there with no expectations or judgments and just kind of make my own mind up.

What are your plans while you’re here?

Yeah. After the shows, I’m going to Varanasi, alone.

 

Mike Posner Special Acoustic India Tour w/Prateek Kuhad. 

January 25th – Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi (buy tickets here)

January 26th – Summerhouse Café, Mumbai (buy tickets here)

January 28th – Indiranagar Club, Bengaluru (buy tickets here)

 

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