Mike Posner’s confessional ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’ is currently vying with Lukas Graham’s similarly confessional – and wildly successful – ‘7 Years’ for the UK Number One spot. Not bad for someone who thought his career was over since his failure to repeat the success of 2010’s ‘Cooler Than Me’ looked set to put him in the box marked ‘one hit wonder’. The Michigan singer-songwriter tells us about his renaissance.
So, at the moment, you’re competing with Lukas Graham’s ‘7 Years’ for this week’s UK Number – are you a fan of that song, or can you not wait to knock it off the top spot?
“I’ve heard that song, and honestly, I think it’s pretty great. I’m not in competition with any other artist, we’re all on the same team. They’re taking on their suffering and making something beautiful out of it, and I support that.”
How did you end up doing ecstasy in Ibiza with Avicii in the first place?
“Avicii’s been a supporter of my music for years, and we’ve been writing songs together for a long time. I was in Sweden working on his album at the time, and he had a gig in Ibiza, so he invited me to come along with him. And I accepted!”
And that was your first pill?
Was it also your last pill?
“Yes, it was.”
Beyond the drugs reference in the title, the song is really more about the trajectory of your career over the last few years, and it’s remarkably honest about it – what was your frame of mind when you wrote the song?
“Thank you for noticing that – usually I spend the whole interview trying to explain what you just said! But yeah, I made two records on RCA that got shelved and remain on my laptop. In the industry, my career was generally considered over, and people were calling me a one-hit wonder. With that song, I was just trying to be honest about coming down from the mountaintop of success; people’s ascent to the top is always very well-documented and everybody wants to write about it, but I was interested in what it’s like to come back down again. I had to live that, and it was a great experience for me – it made me a much better person. I guess it’s ironic that a song containing a line like, “I’m just a singer who already blew his shot” has actually given me another shot. I find that hilarious.”
Did you ever consider quitting music altogether?
“I had to really think about my relationship with music, and what I wanted to do. Within that time period, I was still having success as a songwriter – I wrote ‘Boyfriend’ for Justin Bieber, ’Beneath Your Beautiful’ for Labrinth and ‘Sugar’ for Maroon 5 – so people were saying, ‘You should just be a songwriter. Stay at home and collect your cheques.’ But it didn’t feel right. I felt like I had something to say, and I didn’t want to have to go through another artist to say it. When you’re a writer, your song has to resonate with the person you’re writing for in order for them to want to sing it. But if you’re an artist, you can sing whatever you want. So yeah, I was forced to think about that, but it was ultimately a good thing, because I made a decision to continue being an artist. And here I am.”
How does your success now compare to when you first broke out, five or six years ago?
“I think I cared way too much, you know? I just really wanted to look cool. If I was talking to you six years ago, I’d be really nervous, because I wanted NME or Rolling Stone to really like me. That mattered to me. Now I know that it doesn’t, not really. You might – I don’t think you will, but you might – write an article saying, ‘Mike Posner sucks, he’s a terrible human and we should burn all his records!’ but that’s OK, because I’ve been a happy musician and not famous at the same time. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years! So the fear of not being liked by everyone is a little less intense.”
Let’s talk a bit about the psychedelic video – is it an accurate representation of your night in Ibiza?
“No, the video was dramatised to make it a little funnier and darker. That video is really the baby of (director) Jon Jon Augustavo – I had little to do with it, other than being in the room when he came up with the idea. Even the guy who’s wearing the head in the video isn’t me. So yeah, it’s mostly Jon Jon’s thing – and definitely not accurate!”
It must be weird that this sad, melancholic song you wrote is now a big club tune: how did that SeeB remix come about?
“I had very little to do with that either! I’ve remixed lots of other people’s songs, from Adele to Electric Light Orchestra to Beyonce, so when my record label said, ‘Why don’t you give ‘Ibiza’ to someone to remix?’ I said, sure, because I like the idea of people reimagining art and making something new out of it. But I barely listened to it when they first sent it to me, and I certainly never thought it would be played on the radio or anything like that. It was done by a supremely talented duo from Norway called SeeB, and it was kind of a cool situation to have two guys you’ve never even met remake your song.”
Have you had the experience of being in a club when the DJ plays it?
“I haven’t, man! Honestly, I don’t go to clubs very often. I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke pot anymore. I take psilocybin every five months or so, as a way to try and look at my life a little differently. But I’m not a party guy. I’m sure you can imagine a lot of the questions I get asked by less erudite interviewers – they always ask, ‘What’s the best club in Ibiza?’ but I couldn’t tell you. I’m the wrong guy for that line of questioning…”