Mike Posner talks graduating college, scoring a summer smash, and who 'Cooler Than Me' is really about

MPosnerImage Credit: Timothy SaccentiWhen this year began, Mike Posner was just another Duke University senior — albeit one who happened to have a major-label record deal and several buzzy mixtapes under his belt. Today, two months after picking up his diploma, he has one of the biggest songs in the country with top 10 hit “Cooler Than Me.” I recently caught up with the amiable bro, whose debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, hits Aug. 10. Read on for our conversation.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was “Cooler Than Me” inspired by anyone in particular?
MIKE POSNER: Yeah. There’s a girl at Duke that it’s about. But she’ll remain nameless. I don’t think she deserves any notoriety.

Does she know the song is about her?
I think so. I’m not really in contact with her. But when I went back to Duke to graduate, she made a pass at me and she got rejected.

Was it hard to finish those last couple of semesters at Duke knowing that your music career was starting to take off?
Yeah, it was incredibly difficult. But I knew it was going to be hard when I made the decision to go back [as a senior]. I signed the record deal after my junior year in school. I realized that a lot of people in my family had sacrificed for me to have the opportunity to go to a place like Duke. I owed it to them to finish. I graduated with a 3.6. I hope you’re reading, Mom!

What was your major?
Sociology.

Is that something you’re going to apply to your career as a musician?
Yeah. It’s the study of people and society. It’s easier to make art for a society at a certain point in time with an understanding of what’s going on.

Now that you’ve graduated, are you still planning to keep in touch with your college buddies?
Oh yeah, I talk to them all the time. They’re very supportive of me. They’re really the ones that launched my career and allowed me to get a record deal. I made a CD in my dorm room and put it on the Internet, and my friends blew it up. Within a few months I was doing shows across the country without a record deal, without a single, without anything.

Would you say making music was more fun when you were working with a big major-label budget or back when you were just the guy in the dorm room?
It’s way more fun when there’s a budget. Not that it wasn’t fun before. Like, music is my life. But on this record, I was able to do all the things I’ve dreamed of doing for the past 22 years.

What were the goals you had for this album?
My goal was to make a record that sounded like absolutely nothing that’s out right now. I know I’ve achieved that, and it feels pretty good. That being said, I also have pretty lofty goals for the future for myself.

Like what?
I want to headline Bonnaroo. I just want to do it more than anything in the world.

In the past you’ve worked with a lot of rappers on your mixtapes, but not as much on this album. Why is that?
I wanted to prove to everyone that I could make an incredible album by myself. I truly believe that this record is going to blow a lot of people’s minds and they’re not going to be confused as to why it blew their minds. It’s going to be because of me. This album is mine. I have my whole life to collaborate with people.

Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
I’m a huge Andre 3000 fan. I’m a huge Paul Simon fan. I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan. And I’m the hugest Killers fan and Brandon Flowers fan. I can’t wait to hear his new album.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Taylor Swift announces new album, Speak Now, will drop Oct. 25
‘Nothin’ on You’ and ‘Billionaire’ producer Bruno Mars releases debut solo single: Hear it here
Radiohead drummer Philip Selway preps a surprising solo debut: The Music Mix Q&A

Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • JC

    I hope he does not end like those other male artists(Jay Sean, Jason Derulo & Taio Cruz) whose sold milions of singles but thousands of album

  • Phil

    Sad his label who previously had his cover of the Electric Light Orchestra classic “Evil Woman” on an EP on sale at iTunes, no longer have the EP for sale or the song on the track listing for his debut. His cover/remake is pretty awesome & is being played on the current Hollister playlist in their stores. Look for it on YouTube or check his EP if you were fortunate enough to buy it this winter before “Cooler Than Me” blew up!

  • Adam

    “Cooler Than Me” is one of the absolute worst songs on the radio right now. I almost feel embarrassed every time I hear it. What crap. The general public has terrible taste in music. And this guy really thinks that his song sounds like absolutely nothing that’s out right now? Is he delusional or just stupid? Probably both. Especially since he thinks his music is art. Oh, and his voice sucks too.

    • tina

      i love the song and he is a breath of fresh air. As for you, you could come up with something alitte more creative than talkin about how his voice sucks

    • Keith

      Adam you are the one that is delusional!! It’s really a shame that you don’t see Mike’s talent!! He is great and I like his music!!

  • tina

    Cooler than me is on all my playlists, facebook and myrspace. I have all his music. You could call me obsessed. My friends think I am lil crazy, but I dont really care what they think. He is a breath of fresh air.

  • Allison

    I honestly thought “Cooler than Me” was Ray J, based on how he sounds in clips on “The Soup.”

  • Kim

    Cooler than me is the worst song ever ,and can his personality get anymore sickening he just had to brag and throw in the fact that he has a high GPA hes going to need it because his music career will be nonexsistent soon he is the worst and most disgusting person and singer in history and when I say that is the worst song I ever heared I mean it .I wish nothing good for him

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