‘Very cold day’ collects Posner’s live poetry readings

Grammy-nominated pop singer Mike Posner’s new live album was formed on his 2016 tour

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

When Mike Posner was on the road in 2016, he was so inspired by his live band that he challenged himself to write a poem a day and perform it with them live, every night, just as a means of keeping up and showing his appreciation for their musicianship.

“I wanted to impress them the way they were impressing me,” says Posner, on the phone this week from Venice, California, which the Southfield native now calls home. “So I set this goal for myself, which was a ridiculous goal at the time, to write, memorize and perform a new piece each night.”

The cover of Mike Posner's new album “i was born in detroit on a very, very, very, very, very, very, very cold day.”

From those pieces — 66 in all, taken from solo shows and performances from his opening slot on the Honda Civic Tour, where he supported Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato — comes “i was born in detroit on a very, very, very, very, very, very, very cold day.” The live album, out Friday, collects 13 of those performances, culled from shows in Indianapolis, St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Grand Rapids and more.

“I would write them the day before or the day of. There were a few times I had nothing and I would make it up on stage,” says Posner, who released a book of poetry, “Tear Drops and Balloons,” in 2017. “It was an amazing writing exercise, brain exercise, and there were a few moments that were really special and transcendent, to me. I hope the audience and the band felt that, as well.”

It’s a unique concept for an album, and Posner — whose smash hit, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” was nominated for Song of the Year at last year’s Grammy Awards — says it captures a feeling of spontaneity that is difficult to duplicate in a recorded setting. He didn’t hesitate to put it out to the masses.

“I was proud of the writing. I thought it was as good as a lot of my songs, and I wanted to share it,” he says. “As far as my label, they’re the best. I was just like, ‘I’m doing this, here’s the title, here’s the cover, let’s do it.’ ”

Posner is used to doing things his way. Since last summer, he’s been hosting a podcast, “What Does This All Mean?” that focuses on spiritual enlightenment. (Its official iTunes description calls it, “an exploratory journey into what it means to be a human.”) Episodes center on his struggles with fame and vanity and recount his personal experiences, such as his seven-day solitary retreat at a Buddhist monastery in Colorado. (“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Posner says.)

Last year, he released an album with singer-songwriter Blackbear under the moniker Mansionz that he recently called, front to back, his best album. The duo acted like “knuckleheads” on the red carpet at last year’s Grammy Awards, he says, to both highlight the artificiality of the evening and, selfishly, to draw attention to themselves. “We were trying to rock the boat,” says Posner, who was photographed sitting down on the red carpet, both he and Blackbear looking despondent, while photographers bathed a nearby Demi Lovato in flashbulbs.

Singer and songwriter Mike Posner says, “Poetry is more gritty, more real.”

And he’s working on new music. He’s constantly writing new songs — earlier this week, he was at Blackbear’s house in Los Angeles and held an impromptu writing session with Ne-Yo and Riff Raff — and he’s in the process of putting together the follow-up to 2016’s “At Night, Alone.”

“I’m still working on it. I’ve got a lot of really great songs,” says Posner, who turns 30 next month. “I’m not done with the production, I’m not close to done with the production. So I don’t know how soon, but yes, definitely, a new solo record on the way.”

Posner continues to dabble in poetry and pop music, and says while the two intertwine, the former has an immediacy that gives it a harder edge than many credit.

“Poetry is more gritty, more real,” he says. “You can totally abandon meter and rhyme and melody, and you can just say what you feel right now. So in a lot of ways, poetry can be a lot more gully.”

agraham@detroitnews.com

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Mike Posner

“i was born in detroit on a very, very, very, very, very, very, very cold day”

Island Records

Released Friday