Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos on Dealing With Bipolar Disorder: 'I Don't Want It to Win'

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit
Hassan Rahim

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit.

Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos talks to Billboard about recording their latest album Kindred, which debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200, and addresses interpretations that it was influenced by his bipolar disorder, which hung over their last record, Gossamer.

How did you start Passion Pit?

I went to all these dance parties in college in 2005 and 2006, but then we started listening to Hot Chip and LCD [Soundsystem] and that whole DFA world, and that started opening me up to the alternative world. At that time I was still doing slowcore, scoring my friends’ films. I bought Ableton and I I brought my friends in, and we were so stoned, I'd start playing "I've Got Your Number" and everyone would start dancing. When I wrote “Sleepyhead," they were like, you have to put it on MySpace and I was like "No, that’s what emo bands do." 

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What was it like recording with Skrillex and Madeon for your EDM collaborations with them? 

I was nervous because I didn’t know what I was getting into. I was like, "Do you want a song song?" With Madeon he said, "Why don't you give it a listen and see if you would sing on it?" I sent my verse back to him and he made me re-sing it because I mumble a lot. I did the Michael Jackson thing where you record another track where you hit all the consonants really hard, and that sufficed.

Where did you record Kindred?

It was three guys who are married at this point being like, "Let’s just have guys' camp." In this studio in Northampton, Mass., we'd watch TV, some stupid comedy shoes on televisions that were hilariously hi-definition, and smoke weed and go to bed. We finished “10 Feet Tall," but it was also freezing there and super warm in New York, so we went back. My brain is always going, and when I’m here, just knowing I can access that energy, makes me feel not so crazy.

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After the fallout from the last record, how did you handle your mental state this time around?

Anyone that gets triggered by things I’m dealing with right now -- an upcoming release, lots of shows, allergies, a sinus infection -- those can of course trip you up, but often they do when you’re not actively taking care of yourself. Now, I don’t want it to win. I feel probably more stable than I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s unsettling. I’m so used to he constant barrage of swings just because I haven’t figured it out. I’ve been in a hospital for every single release. 

Have a lot of people read into Kindred as a chronicle of being bipolar?

Someone wrote about "Five Foot Ten" being the depressive and "Ten Feet Tall" being the manic and I was like, "Okay, stretching, but that’s what I deal with." It's finally accepting the fact that I have these flaws. I wish it was a natural ego, like, "I’m owning this." 

An edited version of this story originally appeared in the May 9 issue of Billboard