Mike Posner approaches music and life intuitively
Singer, songwriter and record producer Mike Posner loves Utah.
“I have some friends who live in Eden and I spent a lot of time there last summer and fall,” Posner said during a call to The Park Record from a dressing room at a show in Norfolk, Virginia. “I got tired of L.A. and bought this conversion van with a bed in the back and drove out there and stayed for a few months.
“I spent a sizable time sleeping in my van,” he said with a giggle. “It’s great out there. I love Utah.”
The next time Posner stops in the Beehive State will be on Sunday, Aug. 7, when he performs a St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert at Deer Valley.
The Detroit native said the show will come from his soul and likely include songs culled from his two full-length albums “31 Minutes to Takeoff” and “At Night, Alone,” which features the million-dollar Top 5 hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.”
“I will write the set list based upon what I feel like playing,” he said. “I’ll put together something that I feel will be a good show.”
Growing up in Michigan, Posner’s favorite music was hip-hop.
“I liked music by OutKast, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, the Roots, Mos Def and people like that,” he said.
Those artists were his first influences, although he has a strong opinion about what inspires his art.
“I think that is a tricky question, because I think anything you listen to influences you,” he said. “The same goes for anything that you go through in life or anything you see, as well as anything thing that’s going on in the world, whether that’s politics, economics, love, women, sex and emotion. It all gets in there and mixes together. It all goes into the art.”
Throughout his career, Posner has also produced and collaborated with a who’s who list of artists, including Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Labrinth, Big Sean, Pharrell and Snoop Dogg, to name a few.
Always the student, Posner pays attention to the lessons that emerge with each session.
“I try to learn from anyone I work with, you know,” he said. “I’m blessed to be in the same room as these amazingly talented writers and artists. When I do work with others, the guy across the mixing board [working with me] is typically good at what he does.
“At the same time, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I feel that I belong in that room, too,” Posner said. “I’m always trying to do what I do and at the same time keep an eye on them so I can learn something.”
Keeping his mind, ears and soul open to inspiration is part of the job, and the hard part is making sure the outcome is nothing less than perfect.
“With creating a project, you always want to make it the best it can be, but it doesn’t always come on the first try, first take or first band rehearsal,” Posner said. “You need to continue to strive for greatness and make it the best you can. I think the work lies in making something sound as good live as it does in my head.
“I don’t think I’d call it a challenge, because it’s fun, you know?” he said. “It wouldn’t be as fun to me if I [threw things] out that I didn’t work hard on.”
This is another part of the job Posner enjoys.
“Sure, it’s meticulous, but it’s fun, because there isn’t a lot of places in my life where I’m totally in control like that,” he said with a laugh. “I can make a sound exactly how I want and while other people can give me ideas, no one else can tell me what to do. I’m the boss.”
Being in charge does come with a sense of responsibility.
“An artist’s job is to find beauty in normalcy, so I’m looking for the divine in moments that other people would see as the regular,” Posner said. “Then I’m supposed to show other people that beauty either through words or sound or a poem or essay. That’s my goal. That’s the gig.”
The songwriter said his success is due partly to being at the right place at the right time as well as hard work, luck and intuition.
“When you’re on a wave of success, which I guess I am now — I’m definitely not always on this wave — people think there is a master plan or some strategy behind things,” he said. “Music is something that I’ve done for free much longer than I’ve been getting paid for it. So, to get paid to do something that you would be doing anyways is pretty great. But everything is just gut feeling.
“I mean, when we rehearse and put songs together as a group, it’s the same thing,” he said. “If something feels right we do it. It if doesn’t we don’t. That’s how we make art.”
That’s how Posner lives his life, he said with another laugh.
“If it feels right dating a girl I will but if it doesn’t I won’t,” he said. “There isn’t a logical answer to everything because some girls are amazing people. They graduated Harvard and spend their lives helping children, but there may not be that thing between us.”
Posner said he views the future as a fertile place for his creativity.
“A lot of people say what’s next looking down the road, but I’d say I’m looking up,” he said. “I’ve been writing a lot and I plan on giving art to the world.
“I think that’s what I’m supposed to do, because it’s one of the only things I’m good at,” he chuckled. “There is a long list of things that I’m not good at. So, I’m trying to curate myself, I suppose, and keep releasing stuff, whether those things are books of poetry, essays, drawings or albums. There’s a lot of music still in me and I can still feel that.”
The Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series will continue with Mike Posner at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Sunday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $55 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
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