Questions for Mike Posner
By Elaine Teng '12, Editor-in-Chief
You recently graduated from Duke. How was it?

It was an amazing experience. Duke’s an incredibly competitive school to be at. It was fun to be following my dreams and my passion next to people doing the same thing. I remember people down the hall from me starting online businesses, raising money for Obama — it was a fun and competitive environment, an inspiring environment to be in. It was also very challenging to be an artist from a major record label while being a student at such a prestigious university. I found myself living a double life for a while, going to school during the week, [and] on Thursday evening flying out and doing shows all across the country.

Are you relieved, then, to be done with school?

It’s fun now to be able to concentrate on my passion and my craft which is my music, but I miss it every once in a while, but I’m kind of like a professional college student now. I get to go around the country and party every night and that’s my job.

Have you ever done a show in Massachusetts?

I’ve done a show at Brandeis. That’s it. I have a feeling that this show’s going to be super special and I can’t wait to be on the stage and I promise it’s going to be an absolute party.

Tell me a little bit about your career. How did you get started?

I holed myself up in my dorm room for months and months. I would go to the class during the day. I would go to sleep after my class and wake up at midnight every night and record till eight in the morning because nighttime was the only time it was quiet enough in the dormitories to record. I made a mix tape in my dorm room and I put it on the Internet for free. We started a Facebook event and somehow a few months later people all across the nation knew the words to my song. It was a very organic and virile trajectory that my career followed.

Were you into the music scene at Duke? Did you sing with people there too?

There were a couple of musicians I worked with there and they [were] the nucleus for my music spreading the way it did. They were the first ones to support me and tell their friends in different pockets of the U.S., and that’s the reason I’m here today and on the phone with you.

How do you come up with your songs?

I usually come up with a concept or a line that I really like and then I sit down at the piano or keyboard and write chords and melodies. I’ll record just the melody without words. After I’ve written the lyrics for them, I’ll attach words to whatever is there thus far until I feel like I’ve written a great song.

What about “Drug Dealer Girl” then? How did you come up with that one?

I was back home during Thanksgiving vacation in Michigan and the bathroom I used had been taken over by my mother when I left to go to school. I’m in the shower and I see this bottle of Maybelline and that’s how I came up with the first line, “Now you may never be on a Maybelline commercial.” The concept just moved from there and I rushed through the shower, dried up and rushed upstairs to my parents’ piano. It’s crazy, but you can’t force it.

The music industry isn’t as mysterious as a lot of people think it is. It’s pretty much any other industry in that the people who make the best product, who work the hardest really win. They develop their craft and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Write the best possible song you can and give it away for free and work harder than everyone else and you’ll be fine.

Where’s your favorite place to sing?

I love them all equally. This is kind of a trick question because no matter what I say, someone will get mad at me. The one place that’s really special is when I get to go home and do shows in Detroit. I can promise you that when I’m in Massachusetts on Sept. 26, it’s going to be an absolute party.

Who are your favorite musicians and bands? Your influences?

I love Mike Snow, the Killers, Metric, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros. I love Nas, Led Zeppelin, Paul Simon. Is that enough?

My music is very much a crosswork of many different artists, and that’s the reason I don’t sound like anybody else because I’m probably a fusion of 200 different artists instead of five.

What’s your favorite candy?

Butterfinger. I’m going to teach you the oldest trick in the book. I take a banana and a Butterfinger, I put the banana in my left hand, the Butterfinger in the right hand and take a bite of the banana and a bite of the Butterfinger and I chew them at the same time and I have a little orgasm in my mouth.

I love Cliff bars and I kind of survive on them on the road.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I just want to say thank you to everyone that’s supported my music thus far and I appreciate it with all my heart. I can’t wait to see you guys in person. September 25. You should probably download my album. My name’s Mike Posner. I graduated from Duke but I’m not a dickhead. Download my music for free. It’s really dope.

Issue 04, Submitted 2010-09-29 00:40:35