So now you can read a full English version of the interview for Radio Canada made by Penelope Mcquade.
I upload as well the audio to get both in the same place.
Penelope Mcquade and Mika 16 09 2019 Radio Canada podcast.mp4
Penelope: (laughing): You just heard Mika asking for our Instagram address ...
Mika: Wow, are we already on the air?
Q: Mika has just made a Story for his Instagram. He added me a nose and a mustache.
M: I have to admit, you look very well like this.
Q: You are between two concerts in Montreal ...
M: That's why I have a voice like Barry White today.
Q: Is it because you went to bed late yesterday?
M: Yes I usually go to bed late. But not because I party at night. My vocal cord doctor says that when I'm on tour, my full vocal and physical optimum should be around eight o'clock in the evening. That means I have to move my activities. I have to get up later to reach my optimum in the evening. Therefore, getting up early to do a promotion on the radio causes a bit like a jetlag effect.
Q: Indeed, this is not the best time. I thank you even more for coming to the studio. This is your short stay in Canada during the America tour ...
M: For the moment.
Q: Yes, because subsequent dates will be given later.
M: Yes.Now two dates, but with a very special energy. We perform in the Corona theater.
Q:That's right. You perform in the Corona theater. You performed at Center Bell a few years ago. With the OSM symphony orchestra. Corona is quite a small place for a thousand people.
M: But that's what we needed.
M: First of all, the tickets were sold out in a few minutes for both concerts ... I told myself: OK, it's been three years ... almost four years since my last visit here. We start from the beginning and we will do it in an intimate, honest and creative way. There is nothing on the stage. It's just me, my musicians and the audience. This leads to spontaneity, which is much more interesting. All the ideas that will arise on the stage in these small venues ... all these beautiful moments will become the most iconic in the big spectacle, which will be seen later.
Q: Is this something like development? Such a laboratory?
M: Ideas laboratory. It's good to have such a laboratory. I think there are now many artists who have chosen this way of acting. They say to themselves: OK, we will start in small places. Then it will be big festivals. Then maybe we can do something ... in church. Or again with the orchestra. Who knows? Such different things. I think that for the artist like I am, for an artist who is a mix of musical genres ... this is not just a style. This is me. This is my univers. And this univers should present itself in very different conditions, in very different places. And in this way I can make my univers exist and I will be able to tell my audience about it.
Q: You have a special fondness for audience in Montreal. And not only to the audience. Also to the city of Montreal. You recorded an album here ...
M: Yes, here I made my third album.
Q: Why such an attachment to this city?
M: I don't know. This city is ... crazy. I say this with a very high dose of affectation. Because as you know, I like crazy things.
Q: Of course, we understood that.
M: When I first came to Montreal I had this feeling ... I thought: My God. But that's weird. This city is like me. Why? I'm coming from the airport and people speak English to me. But all around is written in French. So I speak french. I grew up in Paris for seven years of my childhood. But my father is American. So I found myself quickly in this culture mix. Then I see Lebanese restaurants. I see Lebanese names. I can see Greek influence. Influences from Eastern Europe. There are so many particles in all of this that are also in my history. The idea that the city's identity is created through a mixture, through absorption, through the integration of cultures, is the basic thing that warms my heart. I think that this aspect ... it triggers creativity. And then the weather. When it's cold, you stay inside and you work. You feel like creating. And you are waiting for spring. It is a revival that returns every year ... we look forward to it every year, because it is a feeling that ... is extremely important.
Q: When spring comes, we start to go wild. You used the word "crazy". We go wild at the first rays of the sun.
M: Yes But I can't say that. (They both laugh) You can say that. I can not.
Q: You've had a few years break. You said you had enough of the music industry. You've had enough of certain things that happen in music. Many artists spoke similarly with us. "We have enough and we need a break". What brought your joy back? What has restored your desire to create the fifth album that has your name? The album is called "My Name Is Michael Holbrook". This is your official name. What brought your joy back?
M: Ammm. I did many things. I worked on television. At first I thought that television would be such a short episode. But everything went very well.
Q: You have been in The Voice for six years?
M: Yes At first I thought I would do it for a year, maybe two years. And it lasted six years. It's amazing. Everything is OK. However, the problem with television is - and you know it very well, you work in this busieness - that ... when everything is good, what is going on? After 10 seconds, the whole team runs up to you and says: wonderful, it was great! And this kind of excitement appears, the levels of adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine jump. A triumph, a success! It comes suddenly ... but disappears very quickly. It's very easy to get addicted to it. To this feeling of small success, which appears very quickly. With music it is different. Music writing is a process that looks completely different. You write. You wait. There is a silcence. Then you have doubts. Then you have to defend yourself. Then you have to record what you wrote. Then you have to prepare it on the stage. And it lasts and lasts and lasts ... It lasts a long time. Television can be dangerous compared to music. There is a moment when you get adrenaline, when you quickly get satisfaction. It's like a hamburger. And music needs more time and requires greater emotional involvement. And it is spread out over time. So, I had to break up with television. I made that decision before it happened. I decided to separate myself completely. I wanted to find Mika. I wanted to find Mika, who existed before he started selling records. Before the name Mika became a logo. Before Mika released his first album. And for that I needed a nickname. I chose Michael Holbrook Penniman Junior because I thought I could use my official name to find Mika. This was my task.
Q: Does this mean that you had to "dig up" Mika with a shovel, as archaeologists do, who must remove soil and stones to find objects?
M: When I was little, I had this child set: brush, rake ... But in my case it was rather dynamite.
Q: You were looking for Mika using dynamite?
M: I cut myself off from everything. I decided not to use commercial recording studios. I decided not to use people who create albums for everyone. I stopped working with my producer, with whom I made four albums. I had enough of everything. I built a recording studio in my house. A white piano similar to the one I had at home when I was 15 years old. And I will write. I will choose two people who will work with me. They will have to come to me and live with me for two months and work. And I will talk about my life. About the most personal things.
Q : And that gave, among other things, the song "Tiny Love".
The music starts , but the song "Paloma" is played by mistake. After 30 seconds we hear "Tiny Love".
Q : This song is "Tiny Love". Earlier we heard a fragment of the song "Paloma". I don't know what to call it: life balance, an update?
M : Yes, it's a life balance. An update ... Maybe I'll explain something. I need to clarify something. We announced the song "Tiny Love" and we heard "Paloma" - because the album has not come out yet - and you played it for the first time! Personally, I think that if such minor errors occur and we heard "Poloma" for the first time in the WORLD broadcasting station, even if only as a short fragment ... announcing it as "Tiny Love" ... it can bring us luck.
Q: Really? I am happy that we can contribute to success!
M: "Tiny Love." You only heard the beginning. Then there is "bam" and everything changes. This is a kind of landscape. This is the first song I wrote for the new album. This is literally a situation in which I sat at the piano and wanted to evoke the magical feeling that you have at the time of creation. This is the element that causes transformation. Which gives me a sense of value. Suddenly this feeling appears. I have missed this feeling for a long time. I haven't written anything for a year and a half, two years. Maybe that there are people among the listeners who also write songs. We are only afraid of two things. Our health. Our own health and the health of people we love. And we're afraid of blockages. There is not much talk about blockages. We don't talk about it because we consider it as a weakness. And I will say it. I had a blockade. I had enough of everything. And what did i do? I built this small recording studio, which I have already mentioned. The first day I get in the car ... I have a studio in Florida ... I say: come on, dogs. Let's go. I wanted to discover other aspects of my identity. And I'm going to Savannah / Georgia ...
Q: In the footsteps of your father?
Q: You made a pilgrimage in the footsteps of your father.
M: Exactly. My mother has Lebanese and Syrian roots. She is the first generation American. In the Lebanese-Syrian culture, the mother plays a major role. And it always has been like this. I wanted to see the other side. I went to Savannah / Georgia with no expectations. I went to Bonaventure Cemetery and there there is the Penniman family place. My father's family. And there I saw all those Pennimans who were buried there. And gravestones with my name. With my official name and surname. Holbrook Penniman. Michael William ... I thought: My name is on these graves! Partly blurred by rain and time. Their bones lie underground. And they wore my name. It was very in the style of Tim Burton. It was very "dark" and very funny at the same time. I told myself: I'm Michael Holbrook. And with this perspective, in this mood of Tim Burton I will come back and rediscover who I am. I will rediscover the song writing process. And in "Tiny Love", when you listen to the song - today we only heard a small fragment - you will see a person who rediscovers the joy of writing songs. All vocal recordings were made at that time. These versions can be heard on the album.
Q: You mentioned Tim Burton. But one journalist said that this album is a mix of Disney and Lars von Trier. And I wonder, if this album is your life balance, does your life resemble a mix of Disney and Lars von Trier?
M: Yes, especially now.
M: We have a lot of challenges in the family. A lot is going on. But that's life. Sometimes everything happens at the same time. I lost a lot of people while writing this album. And now there are new challenges .... I don't know ... this is probably my reaction to survive these difficult moments that happen to all of us. And my reaction is writing using human heat. Finding emotions. Prescription of a medicine. A letter of love to the people I love. To the people I loved. But also to give a powerful kick in the balls of all those people I don't like. Because from time to time revenge can serve for something.
Q: When you experience all this, and at the same time you have to be on the road, on tour, knowing that there are family problems ... how to reconcile it?
M: Exigency and excellence are the only things that can give you a sense of balance. Everything must be very good. Every thing we choose must be very good. You have to be demanding in your choices. And every concert must be perfect. Every interview must be honest. That way we don't waste energy. It feeds us. I think this is the benefit of twelve years of career. After twelve years, this is no longer the pursuit of a career. After some time, you have enough of this. I find journalists whom I like. I go back to the restaurants I like. I'm going back to my friends. To the venues I like. I am going back to talks with the audience that began ten years ago. A career is something to be built, a career is someting to be sculpted. It takes time, attention and ideas, conversations. This is not something superficial. This is not a rush on streaming, a rush for another hit song.
Q: And there was no risk of escaping into the future? When life is not perfect, you can think that tours, performances, love you get can be a kind of shelter, escape. Is there such a risk or not?
M: For me it's not an escape. Maybe because…. for me it has never been an escape. Tour is something real to me. Thanks to this, I understand my life better ... I don't know if you saw me on stage.
M: It's such a weird mix. For example, the people who were at the concert in Corona yesterday, and who will come to today's ... It's such a weird mix. I totally devote myself to the audience and everything is possible. And at the same time I don't care at all. I can go away ... It's really a kind of tension ... This tension is also provocative. And it is very good. It means that anything can happen. And the audience respects it. They know that I am just like that. For example, I left the stage yesterday and sang in the audience. Right in the center of the room. It was nothing, it was only a thousand people. But I also did it in venues for 14,000 people. I walk in the audience. And I've never had problems. Never. I don't know. I feel very connected to what is happening on stage. This is not an escape.
Q: And it works both ways. This is an energy exchange.
M: You know. It's funny. I enter this building, which is a bit like stuck in time. For those who do not know this building (this is about the Corona theater) ... How would you describe it?
Q It's such an old building. A bit retro. It's like an old cabaret.
M: It's a bit like we're in a Robert Lepage movie.
Q: Yes And it is located in the west of the city, in the working class area.
M: This building was built at a time when brown was considered the most vivid, eccentric, the most creative color in the whole world. It's an ocean of all shades of brown. People are dressed colorfully. But in architecture and interior decoration there is only one color: brown. However, when we enter the building, we will see photographs of people in front of the microphone. Old photographs from the 1920s. I remember that three years ago there were giant dolls that were used in children's television programs, or in historical programs. And we are beginning to understand that this is not just entertainment. That this is not just about commercialism. With the help of the radio, with the help of concerts you can create something valuable. You can express yourself from the bottom of your heart. You can speak from the stage, from records. If we do it in aright way, it won't be just a hit-making machine that will quickly make money on YouTube. You can develop a dialogue that is not found in real life.
Q: What did you lose four years ago that you now found in Michael Holbrook?
M: A child who started working at the age of eight. Which practiced every day for three hours and a half with his mother. Who wrote songs to separate himself from school, to separate himself from violence. Who sang ... Who worked and who slept in parking lots in Toyota Previa with his mother and sisters. That way we could get a job. My mother said, "No, we don't need a hotel. We take this job. He will sing for you. We don't need a hotel”. And we slept in the car. And that child was the most joyful person ... the most joyful version of myself. And all songs were created on this basis. I wanted to find this person. Because if I want to survive emotionally and personally the coming years, I must be that person. And no any other.
Q: Mika, it is a pleasure ... for everyone who will come to your concerts. Further dates will appear. For now, only Montreal is on the North American tour list. The album will be released in early October. We could have heard a few passages. And we'll say goodbye listening to the fragment ... recently which song was your favorite? "Blue"?
M: Yes, "Blue". But you can play "Paloma" again. I will give only a context. The song is about my sister and this is a real story.
Q: Mika, it was pure pleasure to meet you.
We hear a fragment of the song "Paloma".