I did a translation into Polish for my website.
Here is a transaltion from Polish into English. Sorry if any meanings are missed.
Didier Varrod talks with artists in a rather specific atmosphere - this is not just a radio studio, but rather a space reminiscent of a café. This episode includes Mika, Jeanne Cherhal, Cocoon, Terrenoire, Nelson Beer, Arthur Ely and Clio.
The interview with Mike was the first, but he also commented on the interviews with other guests. Here are the most interesting fragments of the interview:
Didier: For the first time in our program, we will hear what Mika tells us. His name is Michael Holbrook. Born in 1983. Sometimes these are two sentences that define us and save us life. Good evening, Mika. I am very happy that you are with us today. This is our first meeting. Now, when I met so many artists, we rarely see a guest who is in the program for the first time. How do you do?
Mika: Very good. At the same time, I must admit that I am very tired. I did not think there was such a nice atmosphere here. We are surrounded by so many people. As if it was a radio program during the festival. This is very rare. Radio for artists can be annoying. You have to get up at five, six in the morning. And we finish around eight in the evening. We are very isolated between various radio stations and we repeat the same information constantly. Here it is different: we are surrounded by people who sit next to us, drink drinks.
😧 We will try not to repeat the information, but we will try to talk about what is related to the new album. We know that everything began with the search for your own identity. In fact, it's nothing new, because I have the impression that from the beginning of your career there is the subject of identity, searching for who you really are. And when you find it out, you will stop singing. So that's good news.
M: Absolutely. We are responsible for that. We are artists, composers, musicians. I think that every guest invited here today asks homself the same questions when composing a song: who we are, what we want, what we like, what our desires are. Yes, I always asked myself who I was to understand who I would become in the future. But each time the situation is a bit different. And this time too, the situation is different.
😧 Artists usually choose a pseudonym - stage name. You took half of your name, half ofyour identity. You did not invent something that did not exist.
M: It was not even a choice. My mother is a Lebanese, an father is an American. My father is WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). I was born in Beirut, where my family went in connection with my father's work. My father was born in Jerusalem, he grew up in Cairo, Washington and many other places because his father was a diplomat. So his identity was very twisted. My mother also had an interesting story. She was born when her mother was 16 years old. And her father was 60 years old. He was a Syrian, she was a Lebanese. When she went to New York, she did not speak English. And then she gave birth to my mother. My parents met twice and then they got married. My mother decided to leave America. I was born as the third child. There are five of us. My family comes from the city of Savannah, Georgia. There was a certain tradition there. Father begged my mother: name your son Michael Holbrook Penniman Junior. And if he ever has a son, he will be called Michael Holbrook Penniman III. My mother then agreed, but one and a half hours after my birth she said she did not like the name and her son would be called Mika. So I'm Mika from the moment I was born. And this Mika became an artist. Only recently, watching the changes in my family, in my surroundings, I decided to look at this part of my life related to America. I started searching for my identity and topic for new songs.
😧 Often people like to sing this song: "last night DJ saved my life" (yesterday evening DJ saved my life). In my case, the DJ often saved my life. For you there are words.
M: That's true. I love words. People think that I am ... that I would call myself a "musical prostitute". I'm really seduced by music. It can be any style: rap, classical music, Wagner, or Dolly Parton. When I hear music, I feel seduced. I love music. But I must admit that when I'm working on a song, I'm obsessed with words and images. I rely on images.
😧 And those first words of the song "My name is Michael Holbrook" saved your life. They introduced you with the creation process. Because you've been on the verge of panic before. It was the white card syndrome.
M: Yes, this syndrome is the worst thing that can happen to the person who creates it. It was not even panic. It was worse. Complacency. It was a strange feeling. I was looking for a point from which I could start. I took my dogs to the car and I drove to Savannah Georgia. I visited the Bonaventure cemetery.
😧 It's a bit strange to visit the deads.
M: I did not think about it. But cemeteries are beautiful. I visit them often. For example, I recently went to Venice. And I did not want to visit the cathedral or the palace. I went to see the Island of the Dead. Diaghilev, Stravinsky is buried there ... So I went there (Savannah) and discovered that a large part of the cemetery was reserved for my family. For the Penniman family. And all men were named Michael, Holbrook, William and Frederick. And I thought it was part of me. This is a place where cotton fields once were, slaves. I who was born in Beirut and had to face another part of myself. I was a little lost. And when I returned home, I sat down to the piano and unknowingly played .... My name is Michael Holbrook I was born in 1983 ... and bam!
😧 And this is how one sentence can save a life. Death, asses, Eros, Euthanatos, everything is also included in the song from the album, which will be released soon. ("Ice Cream")
😧 From the information I have, I imagine that your new album could be illustrated by these songs (Didier plays fragments of various songs, including George Michael, Maxime Leforestier, Aldebert, Alain Souchan, Aertha Kitt, and Fiona Apple)
Mika: This is an illustration of my whole life. My childhood, especially my growing time and adult life. These are songs that are very important to me. I remember that when I first listened to Fiony Apple's "Paper Bag" song, I became crazy about every detail. To the extent that I hired a drummer who you hear here to play on my first album. This is Matt Chamberlain.
D; Good evening, Jeanne Cherhal. It looks like Fiona Apple also has an impact on your new album.
Jeanne: Yes, exactly. Mika mentioned Matt Chamberlain. I met him. I really wanted him to play on my new album. My favorite album is her (Fiona's) second album "When the Pawn". There are two drummers there: Jim Keltner and Matt Chamberlain. And I managed to have both!
M: Really? It must have cost you a lot!
J: It costs a little. He's an American drummer.
M: It's a different culture. You have to explain what is going on.
J: He works very fast.
M: He works fast. But you have to pay for his assistant. You have to pay for a truck that goes next to the studio. I was in Matt's truck. He probably had about forty sets inside.
J: I was in his recording studio. We recorded there. But it is true that there was plenty of equipment there. It's impressive.
D; But let's go back to the illustration ...
J: let's finish the drummers' history.
M: Everyone falls in love with drummers. Everyone wants to go to bed with a drummer.
Mika: Of course.
D; Because they are well built?
M (laughing): No. They are the easiest.
J: What do we learn here?
D; "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael. Did you want to throw in a little of George Michael or INXS, Michael Hutchence in your first single?
M: Yes, this sensuality that raises the temperature. I wondered if we were allowed to do so. Why not? And when I wrote words to "Ice Cream", which are full of images ... of sensuality, carnality... I asked myself if I could dare. But in the end, it's just a song. Why wonder at all? Do it. If it is beautiful, no matter what the text is about. If it's beautiful, then you can do it. You can talk about everything if you keep your elegance. This is our artistic code.
J: I agree with you. Taboo does not exist. Everything is a matter of form.
D; In my musical illustration there were songs like "Mon Pere est hero" and "My Heart Belongs is Daddy". Is your father a hero?
M: He is a quiet hero, almost invisible. But he is very present. He is still with my mother. And probably even at the moment both listen to this program. Yes, my father is a hero. My mother can dominate. I come from a matriarchal family. So all women dominate. I have many mothers. I also work with my sisters. So my father kept to the back. But he was always present in our lives. And I'm more and more fascinated by him. When I was 25, I could not appreciate what he was like. But now, at 35, I see his advantages much more easily. I used to be almost blind. It takes time to create bonds ... the ties between son and mother are more evident. The ties between son and father are more complicated. I think so.
D; You are 36 years old.
M: I am 35 years old. But age is not important to me.
D; So you are 35 years old and in 4-5 years you may be able to release a CD about forty years old man. This is a reference to Jeanne Cherhal's new song "L'An 40", which we played for the first time today at 5:40 in France Inter.
J: Really? I was still sleeping!
😧 Charles Peguy wrote: "40 years is the age when we become who we are"
The conversation is about Jeanne Charhel's style of play on the piano. We hear a fragment of a work from the program dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the death of the French artist Barbara.
D; We just talked about drummers. This style of piano playing ...
M: That is wonderful. Yes, I have been listening to this when you were talking. It is beautiful.
D; In addition, you love Barbara.
M: I love Barbara! I learned about her thanks to my friend Doriand. For a month I listened only to her recordings. From morning to evening. It was an icon ... When I first met Brian May (from The Queen), he explained something to me. He said: "Everyone was wrong. Freddy Mercury played the piano like a drummer. He was the main drummer of The Queen. " I do not know what their drummer thought about it. But that was it. This drums-like playing attracted us. Especially at concerts. Not necessarily on the discs, but definitely on stage.
J: That is what we imagined with Bashar (the talk about the song heard). We took the piano for the drums.
D to Jeanne: You talk a lot about strong women. Christine (Chris) also belongs to such. What does this mean to you?
J: It's above all a woman who is in harmony with her femininity. A woman who wants to have her place in society and does not have to apologize for that .... I have the impression that for some three years we have been experiencing the return of a great wave of feminism ... since #metoo. I am glad that 19-20-year-old women are much more aware and active than we were at their age. I mean egalitarian, intelligent feminism.
D; "Feminite feminin". And what do you think about it, Mika?
M: I absolutely agree with Jeanne. I also like the term "feminite feminin". Because a strong woman can manifest in very diverse forms. A strong woman is also expressed through gentleness. It can be a mother who works from morning to evening, who raises children and treats it as her job. There are so many different mothers, so many different women. So many artists, businesswomen.
The conversation comes down to the subject of the word "female" used by Mike. But this is a purely linguistic matter and it is difficult to capture its meaning in other languages.
M: I grew up in a women's environment. I've mentioned it before.
D; Are women in your matriarchal world strong?
M: Of course. They are very different. My aunts, my grandmother, who was like a viper. A delicious viper. She happened to bite. She was an amazing, strong woman. She had her own unique color. And even if there was a period when I hated it, the color was special. There are also women and girls in my family that are more gentle. I never generalized when it comes to women. Maybe I was raised in special conditions. But now I think it was a great privilege.
D; Mika, has your participation in The Voice over the past few years created a similar field of action as in the creation process?
M: No, this is something else. There is an artistic side in it, of course, but ...
D; Is this also the search for identity? Passing it on to your own children or young people wanting to show you their own world?
M: With some of them yes, but notwith everyone. Most of them think I'm crazy and aggressive and I'm just there to bother them. But I think that what you said is very interesting. The artistic process in The Voice, which is based on coaching, is the whole story. This is not an easy task. Really. When you sit in this red chair, it is not easy to speak, to find an explanation, not to change yourself in front of the camera. And it all happens in a very commercial context. This is TF1, in "prime time" and you have to stay yourself.
Nelson Beer (another guest): I would like to know how much you rely on the scenario.
M: There is no scenario. It has never been. Only for Nikos. Ab-so-lut-ly we do not have a scenario. Of course, there is an edition process. Otherwise, the episode would last three and a half hours. In other countries, everything is prepared. They have ipads and small earphones in which the prodction suggests what to say. We have nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And so it is from the beginning. The producers understood that in this way the program is more credible.
D; Mika, if you want to stay with us, feel yourself invited. If you must go now, you are free. Make yourself at home. In any case, the album will be released in September?
M: No, in October. October the 4th.
D; Ah, so we have to wait a little longer.
M: Yes, you have to wait a bit, but in the meantime new things will appear.
D; Are you happy?
M: Very. I understand that what I do is a great privilege. Writing songs is a zone where I feel really happy. And even if I'm a bit pessimistic by nature, when something beautiful happens to me, I am delighted and surprised every time. I will stick to it. I am not afraid to look into the future, because I see that life offers me a lot of beautiful things.