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Mika turns early adversity into something positive


http://winnipegsun.com/Entertainment/Music/2008/01/29/4799135-sun.html Artists suffering for their art is nothing new.

And in the case of flamboyant Lebanese-born dance-pop singer-songwriter-keyboardist-producer Mika, he would seem to qualify.

His family fled war-torn Beirut in the 1980s -- first to Paris and then to London. During the first Gulf War in 1990, his father, in Kuwait on business, was held hostage at the American Embassy for a year.

While living in London, an 11-year-old Mika was bullied at school, stopped talking, forgot how to read and write and was pulled out of classes for six months after suffering a nervous breakdown.

Some 13 years and a major-growth spurt later -- Mika now stands over six feet tall -- his debut album detailing those early years, Life In Cartoon Motion, has sold more than four million copies, largely due to the breakout hit, Grace Kelly, garnering him a leading four BRIT awards and a Grammy nod for best dance recording for the tune Love Today.

"I've (written about) quite a crazy part of my life because it was my schoolyard album, that's why there's so many childhood references in it," said Mika down the line from London leading up to tomorrow night's show at Kool Haus after a gig last night in Montreal.


"It's the weird thing to think I've only been out of someone else's control, out of proper, strict, organized education, for a year and a half. I've been under someone else's timetable for my entire life so that immediately affected the way I was writing. And I think that there is quite a cartoon-like thing about growing up and when you write pop songs, you instantly are drawing almost caricatures of all the different emotional things that you are going through." Mika, who favours balloons, confetti and even animal costumes in his live shows, describing them as "pretty hysterical and quite party-like," is all set to deliver an extravaganza performance at the Feb. 20 BRIT Awards in London.

"I leaked it too soon," he added of his BRIT performance. "And I almost lost my slot but I've been working on it for about the past month and a half -- you can look at it two ways, controlling and manipulative or passionate. I've been overly involved, they're not used to that but that's just the way I like to do things. Especially when you're trying to create something special. It's very hard to just show up and let someone tell you what you're going to be doing on that day."

But he adds, "To think that a year ago I was a bit of a joke and now I'm getting nominated for things like that -- so yeah it made me smile a lot. It's quite sweet and charming."

As for the Grammys on Feb. 10 in L.A., his attendance is still up the air.

"I don't know if I will actually (be there) because I'm in the middle of my tour," Mika said. "Of course, I'm getting a lot of pressure from my management to show up because that's their job -- but I don't know, I may, I may not. When you're not performing you just feel like you're a little bit victim to the madness of it all."

There have even been rumours that his operatic pop sound, somewhere between the Scissor Sisters and Rufus Wainwright, has led to Madonna asking him to work on her new album.

"I'm not working with her," Mika said. "Believe me, if I got asked to work with her, I certainly wouldn't turn it down. Of all the women I'm fascinated by, she's certainly up there."

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