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https://www.idolator.com/7875109/mika-paints-a-lovely-picture-on-whimsical-romantic-single-sanremo?firefox=1

MIKA Paints A Lovely Picture On Whimsical, Romantic Single “Sanremo”

 
 
 

We’re still a month away from its release, but My Name Is Michael Holbrook is rapidly shaping up to be one of the best albums of 2019. MIKA’s eagerly awaited fifth LP arrives October 4. In the meantime, he’s keeping us very well-fed by dropping a couple bops off the tracklist. The 36-year-old launched the new era with “Ice Cream” and followed that up with “Tiny Love.” Both are utterly fantastic. But his latest single – “Sanremo” – is possibly my favorite so far. Out September 6, it’s a dreamy and exceedingly smooth bop.

 

Produced by Marc Crew and Dan Priddy it finds him dreaming of escaping to a tropical paradise with a love interest. “If I could, I know where I’d be. In a little town in Italy,” MIKA seductively croons. “Close your eyes. Come away with me. Tomorrow we will be sitting by the seaside. Drinking up the sunshine. You’re here so why don’t we go dancing in Sanremo.” Conjuring desirable images of rest, relaxation and romance, it’s the perfect song to close out the summer months. It is also enough to keep me on the edge of my seat until the album arrives.

MIKA opened up about creating the project in a press release. “I hadn’t put out a record in four years. I didn’t know what to do when it came time to start the process and was honestly kind of at a loss,” he explained. However he did have a goal. What was it? To create “an uncontaminated, homemade pop record.” Based on what we’ve heard so far, I’d say the “Grace Kelly” superstar met those expectations. Fall in love with “Sanremo” below.

 

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https://medium.com/artmagazine/mikas-my-name-is-michael-holbrook-is-shaping-up-to-be-hist-best-album-yet-e3bec3936659

 

Mika’s “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” is shaping up to be his best album yet

Sep 21 · 5 min read

It’s been four years since English singer-songwriter Mika released his last album No Place In Heaven, a sublime record filled with growers that gave us what is possibly his career-best song in “Good Guys”.

Now, with its long-awaited successor My Name Is Michael Holbrook set to drop on 4th October, Mika is busy giving us one treat after the other in the form of singles and buzz tracks. The more we hear from the album, the clearer it becomes that My Name Is Michael Holbrook may just be the best record of Mika’s impressive career.

 
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The first taste: “Ice Cream”

The aptly-titled “Ice Cream” gave us the first taste (see what I did there) of the album all the way back in May. With its fun lyrics, fluffy uptempo melodies and a colourful video, the song was ticking all the right boxes for a summer hit.

Hailed by many as a return to the sound of his early successes, “Ice Cream” certainly was a welcome comeback song, but it just didn’t quite have the same originality as other Mika gems like “Good Guys” or “Relax”. As such, it was a solid start to the album campaign and got us in the mood for new Mika music as it was supposed to. What we didn’t know at the time was that far greater things were still to come . . .

The game changer: “Tiny Love”

Greater things eventually came in August with the release of “Tiny Love”. Everything about this song screams career-defining masterpiece. The unusual structure, reminiscent of a certain Queen mega-hit. The smooth melodies and appropriately simple chorus hook. And, above all, the relatable lyrics.

You know Mika’s on to something amazing when the first lines you hear are the following examples of first-rate songwriting:

“It’s not a sunrise over canyons shaped like hearts
It isn’t bursting into song in Central Park
It’s not the outline of your face drawn in the stars
It’s a still-there-Monday-morning kind of love”

With “Tiny Love”, Mika laid the foundations for a brilliant album and shot our expectations all the way up into space. The question was: Would this be an odd-one-out in an otherwise merely ‘solid’ project? Or would it set the tone for the things to come?

The white hope: “Sanremo”

As it turned out, the latter was the case. On 6th September, Mika dropped “Sanremo” — and blew us away for a second time straight. This track couldn’t be more different from “Tiny Love”, but that’s precisely why it was so important for the album campaign: after its dramatic uber-ballad, My Name Is Michael Holbrook now also had its own subdued feelgood bop.

Sure, “Ice Cream” could already have counted as that, but in comparison “Sanremo” feels more original and laid-back. If “Tiny Love” wanted to make you fall madly in love, this follow-up makes you want to take your significant other and just run off to the next-best airport, get on the next-best plane to the next-best destination and make a sunny adventure out of it, no matter where you end up.

By now, we were really falling for My Name Is Michael Holbrook. But would the love story last, or would it turn into inspiration for Adele and Taylor Swift’s new records — a.k.a. would it die in the most dramatic fashion possible?

The confirmation: “Dear Jealousy”

Spoiler alert: The love story went on. Oh, how it went on.

“Dear Jealousy” clearly showed that Mika thought this album campaign through. After “Sanremo”, a song that arguable focuses on melodies and atmosphere rather than genius lyrics, “Dear Jealousy” reminded us all that Mika is first and foremost a brilliant songwriter.

It’s coming to get us,” Mika proclaims in the chorus. “You better run away while it lets us. ‘Cause like it or not, every day we get a little better at jealousy.” There’s so much truth in those lines that you cannot help but jab an accusing finger at your reflection in the mirror. There are those select few songs that flawlessly hold up a mirror to society without coming across as patronizing or excepting the performer from the accusations. “Dear Jealousy” is one of them.

The icing on the cake: “Tomorrow”

It was pretty much confirmed by this stage that My Name Is Michael Holbrook would be quite fantastic. But then, only a week after “Dear Jealousy”, Mika hit us with “Tomorrow”.

The singer-songwriter had for a long time stayed silent about his sexuality. That is, until No Place Like Heaven directly addressed it on songs such as the aforementioned “Good Guys”, the equally genius “Good Wife”, and the title track. “Tomorrow” takes us back to these personal and relatable realms — or, at least, it can well be interpreted to do so.

You and I, we’re really, really not so innocent,” Mika sings in the first verse. “Consequences won’t be easy. From here, every road leads to regrets.” In the chorus, however, the tone changes, and the song takes you from a dark, insecure place to the highest highs a relationship can reach — to those moments when the world stops to exist around you, and nothing else matters anymore:

“Kiss me in the backseat of my vintage Benz
Oh, who gives a sh*t about tomorrow?
When it comes, we can worry then
Oh, who gives a sh*t about tomorrow?”

There’s a feeling of ecstasy in those lines — and a feeling of profound sadness as well, given that the next day may well bring the end of the relationship. Happy and sad is a hard combination of emotions to achieve in a song, but when a singer and/or songwriter manages — as Mika does here — the effect is astounding.

Underlined by Mika’s strong vocals, “Tomorrow” is the kind of song that you usually only find once on an album. But here, in the company of “Tiny Love”, “Sanremo”, and “Dear Jealousy”, it’s just one heart-wrenching pop music gem among many.

In conclusion, . . .

. . . the verdict has been reached: Mika has graced us with no less than four way-above-average gems in a row (along with one okay summer song). Even if the rest of My Name Is Michael Holbrook will be disappointing — and that seems as unlikely as Christina Aguilera having another top ten hit — , the album clearly deserves our attention. If you get hyped up for any upcoming record these days, it should be this one. Because all the signs point towards Mika dropping the best album in his impressive discography.

My Name Is Michael Holbrook will be released on 4th October. Go get it!

 

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Billboard

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8531439/mika-artist-of-the-month-profile

mika-press-2019-billboard-1500x845.thumb.jpg.cac9e03d13eeb647f7f796037129f4c7.jpg

Mika Returns: How the Glam-Pop Star Rejected Industry Standards to Make His Boldest Record Yet

by Stephen Daw
 

After a decade of performing, the 36-year-old singer threw away conventional pop wisdom in favor of emotional resonance on his latest album. "I have completely abandoned any kind of worry about what people may or may not think about my music."

 

 

Each month, Billboard Pride celebrates an LGBTQ act as its Artist of the Month. Our September selection: Mika.

 

 

It’s early afternoon on a Thursday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and despite his cool manner, Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr. is feeling nervous. Not because of this interview -- he’s been speaking to members of the press for over a decade at this point -- but because in just a few hours, he will be donning his stage name, Mika, and returning to perform in the States for the first time in over three years. 

“I don’t know what you’re going to see tonight,” he says with a laugh as he takes a sip of his San Pellegrino. His performance will be the first stop on a 5-city “tiny tour,” reintroducing himself at intimate venues to an audience he hasn’t seen since touring his last full-length album, No Place in Heaven, in early 2016.

But the moment he steps out onto the stage at Brooklyn Steel on Sept. 12, it's clear that Mika's nerves have washed away. The crowd of nearly 2,000 attendees screams along to every song, as Mika dances around the stage, reveling in his return. "God, it feels good to be back on the stage," he says, grinning. 

U.S. stages aren't the only thing he's returning to this fall — after a four year hiatus from the music industry, Mika is officially back with his fifth studio album My Name Is Michael Holbrook (due out Oct. 4 via Republic). It's an expectedly ecclectic mix of pop tracks, spiritually harkening back to the days of his debut with Life in Cartoon Motion; if his debut was about moving on from childhood, his newest album is about growing into adulthood.

Mika says the album was written over the course of the last two and a half years in "real time," as he continued to learn what it really means to be a grown-up. "I really wanted to address the idea of growing up without losing your colors," he says. "Becoming an adult, but without losing your human warmth, or your sense of color and whimsy ... those things are seen as things that you leave behind. If anything, I think they're things that you have to claim even more."

It shows throughout the album -- whether he's battling his own inner envy with "Dear Jealousy," finding joy in the little things on "Platform Ballerinas," or lusting after a boy on "Ice Cream," Mika goes out of his way to create as many different representations of his own emotional state as he possibly can. 

But Mika had a long road to get to his new album. Back in 2016, after releasing Heaven the year prior, and touring near-constantly afterward, the singer decided it was time for him to step away from music. As he describes it, he long felt a general disdain towards the way business was done in the music industry, and that disdain eventually "contaminated" his love of making music. "It took a little while for me to disassociate one from the other, and so I kind of just had to do a bit of internal housekeeping," he says. 

 

Specifically, Mika says that he found himself constantly feeling "gross" about the commercial side of artistry. "I get knots in my stomach thinking about the process of trying to sell music," he says. "Which a lot of people won't say because now it's so good to be commercial, it's so good to be brazen and to get out there! But I don't care!"

So, during his hiatus from the music business, Mika worked on creating a sound that was purely authentic to him, and untouched by his perceptions about what is current and trendy in pop music -- My Name Is Michael Holbrook is that vision realized. "I have completely abandoned any kind of worry about what people may or may not think about my music. I have absolutely refused to mimic the sonics of anything that is mainstream," he says, adding, "While still remaining within a pop context, of course."

That refusal also extended to his Tiny Love Tiny Tour, starting with his kick-off show in Brooklyn. While past tours of his included incredible theatrics, props, dance numbers and more, his latest tour simply featured Mika and his band playing through some of his favorite songs across all five of his albums. And it all took place in the weeks ahead of the album's release, a fact he says caused trepadation amongst his team "[My agent] was just like, 'You know, we're selling these shows — you haven't played the U.S. in three and a half years, and you haven't put any music out,'" he recalls. "She ultimately trusted me."

His strategy payed off — the star sold out each of the intimate venues almost immediately, in some cases having to add additional shows that also immediately sold out. "We sold 4,000 tickets in New York already," he says, with a cheeky laugh. "2,000 more and we'd be at Radio City Music Hall. For someone who's never been played on radio in this country, that's pretty good."

 

Mika wasn't surprised that his team trusted him with the decision, though — despite his aforementioned contempt for the music business, he contends that his record label, Republic, has always endorsed his "weird" vision, despite any questions regarding popularity or sales numbers. "They kind of see me as this completely atypical artist," he says. "There's this sense of pride from them ... and so they're quite supportive of me."

The singer's frustration with the music industry traces all the way back to the start of his career, when the star had spent years writing and sending out songs to labels, only to find them roundly rejected by music labels. His first official single came in 2006 with Universal Music Group's new label Casablanca, titled "Relax, Take It Easy." The song went on to have some tempered European success, but ultimately didn't achieve the success they were looking for. 

Thus, Mika's magnum opus "Grace Kelly" was born. Upon its release, the song hit No. 1 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy and Belgium, while marking the singer's first entry onto the Hot 100 in the U.S., and saw Mika offering a rebuke the systems in place that would try to label and reject him. "After a certain while, the 'no's just provoke this kind of outburst, and this outburst manifested itself in this explosion of colors," he says. "So it became, 'I'll try to be like Grace Kelly. Oh, so sorry, is that too feminine for you?' It's like, I can be every single color of the ####ing rainbow -- but in the end, I don't think it's going to work for you, so I might as well just be myself."

And yet with his success on that single, quite literally written about how trying to compare himself to others simply doesn't work, he was heralded by many as the new Freddie Mercury (which Mika still calls "absolutely ridiculous"). Even with a song about individuality, the star felt his talent was being reduced to a need by those in the industry to identify him. "Therein started this tension between me and the idea of the music industry," he says. "Again, it just shows you how there's different frustrations and negatives in this business."

 

Another label that Mika was regularly faced with early in his career was one surrounding his sexuality -- in almost every interview, the star would be asked about how he identified. And for years, he would respond by saying that he didn't want to label himself. It's something that he says, looking back, he wouldn't change. "It was a conscious decision, and it was a part of my process," he says. "Real life and personal life and career all kind of evolve and develop along different timelines. It's just one thing at a time, where I was not obsessed with this idea of pigeonholing me."

But the evolution did occur, leading to the singer's "official" public coming out in 2012, when he revealed that he identified as gay in an interview with Instinct. Today, the star says he saw an opportunity to lead by example and took it. "If I was a 14 year old, I think it would be really good for me to hear about someone like this, and to hear that story," he says. "But everything takes time. Everything is a different type of journey, and every journey, when it comes to sexuality, is a different one, is atypical."

 

One assertion that he does fundementally disagree with is the notion that life is easier today for LGBTQ artists the world over. Mika acknowledges that "from a media point of view, we're certainly not given as much s**t as before," but adds that it doesn't diminish the constant struggle queer people everywhere still face on a daily basis. "But this question of, 'is it a simpler journey?' My ass, it is!" he exclaims, specifically turning to address industry executives. "Stop thinking that -- because you all suddenly realize there's this market out there -- that it's somehow a simpler journey. It is still difficult, and every person's journey is difficult, and it's so important to respect that."

Relegating a queer artist to a mere descriptor of their sexuality, he says, only lead to further marginalization. Instead, he points to trailblazers like Elton John and Rufus Wainwright, saying that their work broke through into the mainstream because it was well-crafted, and because they decided to be honest with their audiences. "The one thing that breaks walls is the joy and the emotion that can be provoked by a piece of work that is excellent," he says. "Because that lasts."

 

Mika hopes that his fans find that excellence in My Name Is Michael Holbrook, a work he says is his proudest acheivement. "I just feel kind of like, 'Wow, it's starting to come together, and it's taken me 14 years,'" he says. "I've got a long way to go, I've got a lot of challenges. It's not an easy career, I don't have an easy time. And at the same time, I wouldn't change a single part of it."

 

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1 hour ago, Kumazzz said:

"I have completely abandoned any kind of worry about what people may or may not think about my music. I have absolutely refused to mimic the sonics of anything that is mainstream,"

 

This is contradictory.. :teehee:

 

1 hour ago, Kumazzz said:

While past tours of his included incredible theatrics, props, dance numbers and more, his latest tour simply featured Mika and his band playing

 

This wasnt his first stripped-down tour.. :teehee:

 

1 hour ago, Kumazzz said:

he was heralded by many as the new Freddie Mercury (which Mika still calls "absolutely ridiculous")

 

Is he really not seeing the parallels between Bohemian Rhapsody/Tiny Love? :teehee:

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6 hours ago, Kumazzz said:

 

 

Screen shot : Mika comments

 

mikainstagram 🙏 with big

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71068251_147931763121881_2589963359737817357_n.thumb.jpg.30cba94e5c2b8e755e1ac8f5ef7f2b14.jpg

 

mikainstagram IG stories

 

 

 

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Rolling Stone

  • October 1, 2019 1:32PM ET

How Mika Fell Back in Love With Pop Goodness

With his new LP, ‘My Name Is Michael Holbrook,’ the global star shares his exuberant, irreverent, darkly glam party and opens up about the clash of musical worlds — from classic opera to Lil Nas X

"Half of me is an immigrant, but the other half is this really complex, entrenched story in part of American history,"

Mika explains about influences for his new album, 'My Name Is Michael Holbrook.'

Julian Broad

“Where have all the good guys gone?” Mika asked on his last album, 2015’s No Place in Heaven, singing about searching for heroes in everyday life while referencing many of his own, from James Dean to David Bowie and Walt Whitman to Rufus Wainwright. With the October 4th release of My Name Is Michael Holbrook, his fifth LP, he makes emphatically clear the good guys are right here among us — sometimes it just takes a bit of self-rediscovery to find them.

After springing into the spotlight in 2007 with “Grace Kelly” — a defining single with soaring high notes that shot to the top of the charts, sold millions of copies worldwide, and helped turn his debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, multiplatinum — the piano-playing singer-songwriter released three more LPs: The Boy Who Knew Too Much, in 2009 (“We Are Golden”); The Origin of Love, in 2012 (including “Popular Song,” a collaboration with a then-up-and-comer named Ariana Grande, as well as “Celebrate,” featuring Pharrell Williams); and No Place in Heaven, in 2015. Along the way, Mika — a cunning multilinguist who was born in Beirut, raised in Paris, and reared in London — came out officially. He also admits that he “kind of fell out of love with the job” of making music, something he’s been doing since his first professional gig, at Covent Garden as an eight-year-old. To rediscover that precocious, unfettered love of pop after spending much of the past few years as a TV judge on The Voice in France and Italy, Mika got back to basics, built a home studio, and took two years to write and record with an entirely new production team.

Rolling Stone caught up with the fashionable 36-year-old star in New York the weekend after he finished shooting his upcoming “Sanremo” video in Croatia and the day before he appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers and kicked off his Tiny Love Tiny Tour. We discussed the new album, ice cream, sensuality in music, and how to deal with our looming “sense of disaster.”

 

 

You’re still quite the jet-setter. Didn’t you write My Name Is Michael Holbrook in Tuscany and Miami?
I wrote it mostly in Miami. I have a house there I bought years and years ago. It’s from the 1920s, and it took me six years to restore it. And every time I made any money, I put it in there, which was probably a very bad investment. But I did it just because I felt like it was saving an old lady. And I built the studio in that house.

 

Well, if your name is Michael Holbrook now, what ever happened to the Boy Who Knew Too Much? Is he still in there, or are you just going identity-mad again?
[Laughs] I think he’s more in there now than he was before. It was about reconnecting with that, with me, with Mika. Like rediscovering me and forgetting about the work — about everything from weird TV experiences to touring to commercial surprises and successes and failures, all those things rolled into one, just forgetting all of that s**t. Getting back to this 18-year-old sitting in front of his piano, writing songs, thinking in color and imagery, and trying to write songs about it. You know, my name is Michael Holbrook, but I’m Mika.

 

Are there particular artists or musical tropes that were inspirational in making the album?
Sure, I was excited to have a new team, from the engineer, who is the other musician, the unofficial member of the band, to the producers, who I love: I think Mark Crew is an English tech nerd, one of the next really big British producers.

In terms of influences, I wanted music that was really warm and full of color. So inevitably, I was drawn to the Eighties and Nineties. And that sensuality in music — and not just a sexual sensuality, but sensuality — was something so present in the Seventies and Eighties. And then the Nineties became about commercialism and moved away from this kind of sexy Warholian version of pop to actual pop. And there’s a huge difference between the two. We went from pop to popular, and few things could be further from each other.

 

Tell us about Michael Holbrook in terms of your American roots.
Well, I didn’t know what to write. I had this itching desire. I knew that I had to confront certain things and kind of reopen the gate again. The truth is that for a couple years the door was shut. And I knew I had to open that door, and I didn’t know where to start. So I built a new studio. A really simple studio. I got myself a white piano because that’s what I wrote on when I was 16 and figured that was a good place to start. And then I got into a car with my dogs and drove from Miami to Savannah, Georgia. Because I had to find out something new about myself, I had to provoke myself. I went to walk around, and I went to Bonaventure Cemetery, and there in the Garden of Good and Evil, I found the Penniman plot. [Mika’s full name is, in fact, Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr.]

I don’t know if all these ancestors would have been very happy to see me walking in: half Lebanese, homosexual, multilanguage-speaking liberal walking to this plot — and then I saw my name, half-etched, half-eroded by weather on tombstones. So many in the Penniman family are buried there, and seeing that is so weird, because it turns out that part of my father’s family is related to John Adams. The Adamses and the Pennimans.

 

That’s so far back!
So far back, which is hysterical, because I was like, “I’m just an immigrant.” But actually, no. There’s another part of me [for which] that’s not true: Half of me is an immigrant, but the other half is this really complex, entrenched story in part of American history. And so it was kind of a weird thing. But the only thing that I can describe it as is this thrill, this kind of perverted thrill seeing your name on a tombstone, eroded, and it’s like, “You think you know who you are, boy, but you ####ing know nothing.” It felt so Tim Burton. It’s like, “This is so sexy. Some damn corpse is in there with my name!” Oh, I love this! That’s my name, this bones in there’s got my name. It’s like, “I’m good. Let’s go home, let’s go write.” And I went home and I wrote “Tiny Love.”

 

Let’s talk about “Ice Cream,” your bouncy first single from the new album.
Yes, Rolling Stone called it “summer bait,” which I love. It’s completely inappropriate and in a good way. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a tense little poem on heat and sex.

 

Who doesn’t love the line “I want it melting on my tongue”? Yet watching the video, one can’t help but also think about the climate crisis. Was that conscious?
Definitely. I think how when I was younger the heat was always something that was just kind of glorious. And now, it’s kind of like, you know, becoming a Margaret Atwood novel, becoming something that we all start to fear. I wanted to talk about that mixture of pleasure, sensuality, the warmth, and then underneath this kind of quite weird darkness and that — whether it’s a kind of sexual or physical discomfort — pending sense of disaster. That is the contrast that I’m trying to put into all my songs, which is funny, because I write dance pop. Especially in the United States, in a kind of Northern American culture, dance pop is full of nonsense. But I love writing dance pop if it also has some of these things built into it.

 

After your North American shows, you move on to bigger arenas in Europe. What’s the difference performing for audiences on this side of the Atlantic?
It’s even more exciting here. The people who come to see me here really know the music. They’re not coming for any other reason. And that’s ####ing great. It’s very nourishing. So I’m going to take that with me to other places where I’m popular as a pop artist. Here it’s just a music show. There’s no set, no theatrics; it’s music. And it’s not by accident. It’s because whatever I do here, and all the decisions and the things that I develop here, are going to be the basis of the show in Europe. That’s what I’ll take over, but I’ll put a bigger show around it.

 

So who’s on your playlist these days?
I like Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I love the kind of world that I can step into on a Tame Impala record. I love more than ever Chet Baker and Charlie Parker. I love that pop has found not a new skin but another version in something like Lil Nas X and his clash of worlds.

 

You’re a Lil Nas fan?
Yeah, my perspective on him is like, “Oh, my God, someone is playing with us.” In a really good way, not taking us for a ride [but] ironically, with subtlety, with humor, also with sonic texture and darkness. And honestly, it’s kind of like when Beck came out with the song “Loser.” 

 

How so?
He’s a bit Beck in his attitude in this kind of clash of styles and clash of cultures; and Beck is such an icon of mine, because he represented that clash, and he was the one that was able to get away with it, right? There’s kind of a similarity to that, and I think that’s why Beck was such a huge icon for all alt-kids, you know. Straight, gay, didn’t matter, just alt.

 

Lil Nas X just came out, at 20, which in part shows that the world is much more LGBTQ-friendly than it used to be. Have you faced homophobia professionally?
Of course I did. I did more than I do.

 

Because you’re a star?
Oh, absolutely not. It’s got nothing to do with being a star. I remember when I was trying to get a record deal, one of the heads of the label say within earshot of me, “It’s just a little too gay.” And not sign me. If you say to someone now, “It’s just a little too gay, I don’t want to sign you”? One of the heads one of the biggest names in the world? So the times have changed. Thank God, they’ve changed. 

 

Where do you envision going from here, after the tour?
I would love to start creating a dream, creating a show, but a different kind of show that you step into. You buy a ticket to an exhibition, but the exhibition is a journey. And it’s a sensory, auditory, and art-design experience that you step into. That’s what my next dream is, to kind of start building these things that I call worlds.

 

Something immersive?
Immersive art. I want to start to illustrate the things that I see, the things that I dream in my head. I want to start building them and tell a story through that. I would love to direct an opera. For the same reason.

 

That would bring your story back to Covent Garden.
That brings it back to where I started. Still today, I have that same sense of desire, impatience, and envy — that kind of holy trinity that is as positive as it is destructive and negative — that fills me with this idea of wanting to create stuff, wanting to prove people wrong, wanting to surprise people, even if it’s my own friends and family. Wanting to make things, worlds that you can step into. That is what drives me as an artist, through music and visuals and storytelling from now until the day that I die. I want to build continuously a world. And it’s not about my name. It’s about the emotion of it. It’s about the process of making it and making it come to life. And the stories and the melodies that you tell are all part of that. And it’s with an enormous amount of impatience, excitement, and irritation that I confront that idea every single day.

Mika’s tour ends on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2020, in Strasbourg, France.

 

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http://www.newnownext.com/mika-interview-my-name-is-michael-holbrook/10/2019/

 

Why Mika Is Done Writing "Cookie-Cutter Crap"

by Jay Martin William
 

Mika’s 12-year-career has been the spirited soundtrack to many of our first loves, carefree summers, and post-coming-out fantasies. But longtime fans, take note: The artist best known for his flamboyant glam-pop confections has moved beyond those early comparisons to the Bee Gees and Freddie Mercury, producing a new record that feels like a new beginning, a chance to get to know the 36-year-old Beirut-born singer as he gets to know himself.

 

For My Name Is Michael Holbrook, his first studio album in five years, Mika retreated to his home studio to reflect on his globe-spanning backstory (its title refers to his birth name). His tumultuous childhood in Lebanon led him and his family to flee to Paris and then London, but he traces his roots all the way to his father’s upbringing in Georgia’s Savannah. When he’s not casting his gaze inwards, the project is a tribute to Mika loyalists—it teems with messages of self-acceptance and self-empowerment—and a celebration of the joys of finding the right person to spend our lives with. “Tiny Love” focuses on the little secret mundane moments we share with our partners, while “Sanremo” subtly illustrates what it’s like to grow up gay surrounded by so-called masculine ideals.

 

Mike recently sat down with NewNowNext at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Steel during the New York stretch of his North American Tiny Love tour to talk about finding inspiration on tombstones, why he refuses to be part of the “cookie-cutter” pop system, and why being queer in the music industry still isn’t easy.

How was the show last night?

It was my first time on stage in at least three years. It was quite nerve-wracking and emotional. But it was good. It’s such a diverse audience.

Have you had a chance to do any Brooklyn-y things while you’ve been in town?

Absolutely nothing. I’ve been in promo nonstop. But I’m not here to be a tourist. I’m here to sing to people who have been so faithful in following my path. I’m in this hotel right now that’s my idea of a nightmare. It’s just, like, a giant bar. I’m so glad I’m not just drinking all day and have something cool to do.

Right, which is to promote this new record. Let’s talk about what influenced it. You’ve said you were partly looking at your American heritage through the lens of your father’s roots.

It was a starting place, out of complete coincidence. I was curious to see what the other side of my family was. If you’re going to grow up, you might as well know where you come from to figure out where you’re going. So I went to Savannah, Georgia, and it was weird. I just didn’t relate. It felt so distant from my culture. When I walked into the graveyard and saw tombstones with my name on them, it felt like a Tim Burton movie and gave me a thrill—like, what if I used it as a kind of alter ego to reconnect with Mika? I needed to find that person again, and it was a good mechanism. There’s always something about our parents’ past that we don’t know, and it can provoke creativity and curiosity about yourself.

 

You’ve said that leading up to this album you were disappointed with the commercial side of the industry and wanted to make a homemade pop record. How was the songwriting process different this time around?

I had a new team and refused to go into a commercial music studio. Five or six years ago, you’d go to L.A. for a writing trip and work with one to two people for like two to three days. Now publishers set up these writing sessions and you’ll be writing in this slot of three hours. It’s gross cookie-cutter crap, where all the songs sound like each other. I made a commitment to writing at home and working with people who would spend time in my home studio. The kind of music I make is not chasing radio. I need to be totally in sync with the story I want to tell. It needs to be very intimate, very personal, and very unique.

This album does feel very cohesive.

Cohesion comes from storytelling and an idea that you’re going on a journey with the artist. The main problem is that the working process has been so fragmented. It’s like a collage of different writers, sessions, and intentions. That is the main problem in dance-pop music today—this cohesion issue. I’m looking at your T-shirt [which has Madonna on it]. You would listen to a Madonna record in the ’90s, and she is a master of telling one story in lots of different sounds and melodies. Even if she is writing with different people, she respects the story as if the album is a movie. Cohesion is really important, but it doesn’t only come from sound. It’s really about the stories.

 

For “Tiny Love” you recently put up a post on Instagram asking fans to submit their own “tiny love” stories—personal love stories the world may not know about but that mean everything to them. Then you shared some of your favorites, which were beautiful and intense to read.

I received 1,700 of the most intimate details of people’s lives. I can’t believe so many people went there. A lot of them were saying, “I never thought I would write this publicly, but now this is a safe place.” You think your heartbreak or your joy is worthless in the grand scheme of things, but when you say to people, “Just for this moment, talk about it,” suddenly they explode because that’s empowering. Everyone can benefit from empowerment.

Unfortunately we live in a world right now where—especially with political leaders that garner media attention by doing the opposite of empowerment—if you are not rich, you are unimportant. If your pictures on Instagram are not super sexy or you don’t get a certain number of likes, you’re unimportant. It’s a world of comparisons and inferiority complexes—it’s just such a ####ing waste of time. So you can feel like your love story is not as important.

 

But you seem like you feel free. Have you always been this way?

I just got sick of this idea that you’re just not good enough, no matter what you do. It gets really exhausting at a certain point. When I was at school I was paranoid, afraid, extremely bullied. I was like, Maybe if I can be really good at something, instead of hitting me they’ll applaud me, which is ####ed up. It’s a messed-up way to grow up, and a lot of us grow up like that. It’s the idea of pursuit of tolerance through recognition or through excellence, and then you realize it doesn’t really give you tolerance. You become completely at the servitude of your own output because you feel like it’s the only thing that’s going to let people think you’re okay. There’s definitely been a lot of forced evolution.

For all of us, but we survive.

I think we have no choice.

In music, we’ve actually made many strides in LGBTQ visibility in the past few years. Do you think it’s getting easier for LGBTQ artists?

There’s a lot of work to do. Let’s not pretend, but let’s celebrate. Are there more artists? No, they’ve always been there. It’s just that somehow people have decided to throw a little bit of light on them. Is it simpler? Absolutely not. It’s still complicated—full of frustrations. Just because there’s more exposure for LGBTQ artists doesn’t mean that their personal journey is not going to be a complicated one.

 

If you’re like 13 and having a hard time because you’re scared about what your family is going to do to you, it’s important to have role models to know that there is tolerance out there. If it hadn’t been for those role models I had when I was younger, I would have been a lot more unhealthy, so I thank them. Like in the song “Good Guys” [from the 2015 album No Place in Heaven], I list writers who showed me that there was an enormous palette that I could open up to instead of repressing, and for that I’m eternally grateful. So is it easier? It’s a pretty loaded question. But is it a more joyful time within the music industry for LGBTQ artists? Absolutely. Let’s not go backwards.

 

My Name Is Michael Holbrook is out October 4.

 

Jay writes about music and pop culture since us LGBT folks pretty much run these kinds of things.

 

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20190509_Mika_Press_09-0526f3-1569870439-1569870441.thumb.jpg.4203e21f9980437c9c374354679ec77d.jpg

 

the writer Jay Martin Williams posts a pic to instagram.

 

 

and his IG story

 

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RIFF magazine.com

 

ALBUM REVIEW

http://www.riffmagazine.com/album-reviews/mika-my-name-is-michael-holbrook/

'My Name is Michael Holbrook' paints a picture of a conflicted Mika | RIFF

 

English pop musician Mika first made a splash in 2007 with surprise hit Life in Cartoon Motion. The former Simon Cowell reject, who was bullied through school by his classmates, proved his critics wrong with a sugary blast of positive tunes like “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful),” “Grace Kelly,” “Lollipop” and “Love Today.” The well-crafted songs made it easy to get lost in the melody and forget the painful life events that led Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr. to that point.

 

 

My Name is Michael Holbrook
Mika
Casablanca/Republic, Oct. 4

 

 

Though the singer-songwriter never lost his glittery edge, Mika’s next three albums got progressively darker. His fifth album, My Name is Michael Holbrook, seems to address his upbringing head-on rather than through a complementary narrative or someone else’s story. The result is mixed bag of bass-hitting thumpers, intimate piano ballads, disco-tinged synth-pop and various colorful embellishments—ranging from children choirs to retro Italian lounge a la Phoenix on Ti Amo.

 

Thematically, My Name is Michael Holbrook makes sense. It scores the story that Mika is telling. His goal was to look inward at himself as a man—and he’s done it. Sonically, the album can become a bit jarring as his five-octave voice is sometimes the only thing that connects the album’s 13 songs.

 

On opener “Tiny Love,” he sounds like both Freddie Mercury to Elton John, from the bombast of the Queen frontman to the delicate balladry of the Rocket Man. He’s clearly happy, singing about a love that grows stronger every day.

 

 

Mika’s sexuality wasn’t widely known 12 years ago, though he sang about a character Billy Brown, who was unhappily married to a woman. Follow his coming out several years ago, he now sings about his affections in the first rather than third person. That openness explains why “Ice Cream” has sexual innuendo to spare. Sporting all the proper elements to be a hit since it released last summer Mika finds support amid organ synths, upbeat percussion and a poppy hook as he declares “I want your ice cream!”

 

Mika’s outlook shifts downward on “Dear Jealousy,” a ’90s tinged pop tune by way of Savage Garden. He’s unhappy with where he has ended up. Jealous of where he was and where he could end up, his negative feelings make it impossible write songs. “Jealousy” becomes a third person in his bed, the the song becomes a list of all the thoughts he needs to change.

 

The other main character on the album is Mika’s sister, Paloma, who nearly died in 2010 after falling from her fourth story apartment window and impaling herself on a fence post. Mika found her there and he was the one to call for help. He has talked about the traumatic, life-altering experience before, but he addresses his emotions in a song named after her.

 

“Oh Paloma, the skies have not been kind to you,” the piano-and-strings ballad begins. Mika uses heavenly imagery, referring his sister as an angel with a broken wing. As brushed drumming joins in to the mix and begins the song’s build to a cathartic release, he sings about the sky falling to pieces; “The night our life fell into pieces, too.” The song ends with the emotional line “Fly Paloma!” which Mika repeats.

 

Paloma reappears in album closer “Tiny Love (reprise).” Mika sings as her: “My name is Paloma and I was born in ’81/ I lived my life, its ups and downs and had my fun/ But now I’m high with a tiny love/ I will stay high.” The line bookends the album opener, on which Mika introduces himself. The reprise is cinematic in scope, with swelling strings, sustained piano notes and flittering synths. A children’s choir appears to declare, “we are giants with our tiny, tiny, love.”

 

The bottom two thirds of My Name is Michael Holbrook hop around between styles. On “Sanremo” a retro Euro-disco and lounge vibe takes over. The song centers on growing up gay and the intimidation that Mika felt as a youth. The hopeful, flirtatious “Tomorrow” is one of Mika’s best songs, while “Cry” comes with a glossy nighttime sheen.

“Platform Ballerinas” is a female empowerment anthem akin to “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful),” though its more inclusive to all women who don’t fit a specific mold.

One of the album’s pertaining notes comes on ballad “I Went To Hell Last Night,” where Mika finds hope even after following someone special to hell: “When you’re dark, and you’re sad/ And your future’s just as bad/ there’s a little bit of God in everything.”

 

That’s the message Mika clings to after examining himself.

 

Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter

 

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https://pridesource.com/article/qa-mika-on-his-cathartic-new-album-writing-it-on-a-shtty-white-piano-the-consequences-of-being-out/

 

Recently posted interview, I believe it belongs here. Very interesting part about romantic duet with Jack Savoretti and Mika being not so romantic about a duet with his real partner :roftl:

 

 

Its 8:30 in Italy, and maybe if Mika didnt feel so deeply connected to his new album hed just want to go to bed. But the sparky glam-pop performer doesn’t mind the before-bed call; in fact, hes thrilled to be talking about “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” because this phase is actually more engaging and interesting, and generally I am enjoying it way more than any other album Ive had to promote.” 

Mika’s past work, of course, famously includes his 2007 debut  “Life in Cartoon Motion,” wherein he emerged an exuberant-sounding human cartoon, with songs like Grace Kelly and Lollipop. This album, his first in more than four years, is different in that its core was created after discovering his familys history. And though its been exhilarating to promote, its also ironic considering its not the simplest time in my life, the 36-year-old Beirut-born performer, whose birth name is Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr., says. 

Mika spoke about how coming out in 2012 may have affected his career, the “s**tty” white piano he used to write “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” and why he won’t be singing with his romantic partner anytime soon. Despite his admitted tiredness, Mike was introspective – even rollicking – when we finally connected, once he’d won his battle against rush-hour traffic.

What is not simple about life for you right now?

Well, it all started when I had this premonition about three and a half years ago: I felt like I thought I had grown up 10, 11 years ago and I was like, You know, Im an adult. And nothing appeared to change. Sure enough, as I started writing the record so much change happened in my private life and my personal life, losing five people close to me, including my grandmother.

Im sorry to hear that.

Well, its OK. Thank you. But it happens to all of us. But then on the day I wrote Tiny Love, the same day, I get a phone call saying, You gotta get on a plane cause your moms sick, and then that became this running thing throughout the writing of this record. My mom got more and more and more sick with different diseases that got worse and worse, and you know my mom and I have this very strong link. I was thrown out of school at the age of 8 and she looked at me and instead of being nice to me she just said, People like you end up in prison or they end up successful, and over my dead body will I have a son who ends up in prison. (Laughs.) 

You definitely chose the right path, didnt you?

I didnt really have a choice, trust me, if you knew my mom. (Laughs.) And she trained me three to four hours a day at the age of 8, and I cried every day cause I didnt want to do it. Then, within four months, I was singing at the Royal Opera House in London, and within six months I was a soloist at the Royal Opera House. So, from that point on, my life changed. 

You know, she worked with me up until this record. So this album was kind of made in the midst of a lot of that, and instead of retreating and taking a step back  it interfaced with that darkness from multiple sides – I actually went toward life. I said, Im gonna go toward what makes me, me. Im gonna take my colors  the ones from when I was 17 – and make them shine even brighter. Im not gonna care about commercial circumstances or the climate of the music industry or the fact that it seems to be that all storytelling seems to be happening mostly in R&B and hip-hop, which is something I just cant do because its not my musical culture. Im just gonna go for it. Im gonna put together a romantic, emotionally driven, heartfelt record and try and make it at the service of emotion and hopefully itll be bold enough to stand on its own two legs. Thats how the album came about and how it was written. 

Has this album been cathartic for you? 

Its an extremely cathartic piece of work for me. And its also a kind of provocation to myself where I realize that this idea that we spend most of our lives building our foundations on people that we love and we rely on, there comes a point when that version of your foundation starts to change or shift or disappear, and you have to do it in a different way and the only way you can do it is by knowing where you come from, by being at peace with yourself and celebrating, also, all the people around you who you love. Feeling that sense of self-worth is the only way you can have a chance of figuring out where the hell youre going to end up. We dont really know who we are, and anyone who says, I know who I am” … youre never gonna ####ing know really who you are. 

But we think well figure it out when were older.

Then we fall in love, we get our heart broken, and we start again. 

Its a lot of distractions. 

A lot. But thats OK. I dont mind that. Thats also one of the main motivations for writing for me, so Ill take it.

Which motivation are you referring to? 

Trying to figure out who we are and that changing all the time. 

 

Can you tell me about the first song that you wrote for the album and why you decided to start there?

It was born in a graveyard. (Laughs.) In a place that I had never been to, that I had completely disassociated from my identity, and that was Atlanta, Georgia. 

Right, you went to see your family plot. 

Yeah, exactly. I went to see my family plot, and you know Ive always said, Im half Lebanese, I grew up in lots of different countries, Im an immigrant. A homosexual! So Im the furthest thing from a person from Atlanta, Georgia whose family had cotton fields. I mean, that is the weirdest part. I just dont know what that is. 

But you knew about this family history? 

Hardly.

In discovering this part of your family history, were new parts of yourself revealed?

I didnt know about it that much, I really didnt. My legal name is my fathers name, and he actually had his own crazy journey because he was born in Jerusalem and then grew up in Cairo, and then grew up in Washington, then grew up in Italy, then grew up in London, then grew up in Rome. So during my entire life, it was so hard to understand who he was or where he came from, so its just so strange for me to have delved into that, but I just felt like I knew so much about my moms side of the family, and I wanted to know everything he hadnt told me about his familys family. So I delved into it. I went and saw this Penniman plot at Bonaventure Cemetery, and I saw part of my name on a tombstone, half corroded by time. Just had this weird reaction to it. Like, Wow, Ive always rejected my legal name, because my mom called me Mika from the time I was born, but it is my name and its also my fathers and I know ####-all about it.

The only way I can describe that feeling is: Have you ever had that kind of feeling that theres another part of your house that you just hadnt noticed? Another part of your apartment that just wasnt there? Then one day after four years you might discover it. Its weird. I didnt really like it, but I found it fascinating and it was this weird Tim Burton moment, seeing your name on a tombstone. I went back home and I wrote this song called Tiny Love. It sums up the project in a good way. Its like, I might be Michael Holbrook, born in 1983, but I can be so much more when I allow myself to be, and if I allow myself to dream to be whatever I want to be.” 

And you bought a white piano because thats what you were playing when you were 16. 

Yeah. Superstition. (Laughs.) 

You were being superstitious?

I dont think its superstition. I dont like looking at a black piano, and I dont know why I dont like looking at a brown piano. For some reason this idea of a white piano I got used to when I was a kid and so thats all I really want to see. 

What does the white represent to you? 

Non-institutional education. (Laughs.) I was going to music college, I was going to rehearsal. Even when I was at conservatoire at the Royal College of Music, as an adult I was studying as a baritone and all of the pianos were black pianos  academic, institutional lessons on black pianos – and then the white piano was something youd see on the cover of a Barry Gibb album. I had a white piano and actually, to tell the full story, I had a black piano when I was a child and that piano I decided, with a friend of mine, to paint it white when I was six years old. Ever since then it stayed white, and its this kind of really tacky house paint. Terrible finish. Its a piece of crap kind of paint job. But Ive used that, so for me I was going to write on a white piano all the stuff I wanted to do  all of my music – and then I would go and sing, like, (John) Braham and Italian songs that were written 100 years ago on the black piano, so I associated the two with that.

So when it came to actually coming back to writing in my home studio I wanted to write on a white piano. So I went out and bought a white piano and it turned out to be the worst piano that they had in the entire piano warehouse. I was like, Why dont you have a better piano? He was like, “’Cause no one wants a ####ing white piano, so we give them to people who dont give a s**t about piano playing. He was such an asshole. People who work at music stores are famously rude. So anyway, I bought the s**tty white piano that sounds like a piece of crap and I wrote the entire album on it. 

 

Youve acknowledged disappointment in the commercial aspects of the industry. Do you think coming out ever had any effect on your career?

I dont know. Id like to think no. I think that the commercial consequences of my sexuality were more to do with what was indelibly written into my music, by me, and inevitably immiscible when you listen to it from before I was even signed. That aspect did have consequences, especially in the United States. But it’s OK. It’s not OK now, but back then I made peace with the fact that I was considered a little bit less thanand when I asked why theyd be like, Well . I would never get a clear answer. But I always felt like it kind of was there.

Times have changed. Thats not the case anymore, and thank god. But I do think, if anything, that kind of frustration that I felt, and some of the limitations, some of the commercial consequences of my sexuality, actually provoked me to come out. If I think about it honestly, that frustration actually riled me so much that it encouraged me to come out publicly. Youre like, Whats the point of being in a pigeonhole? What is wrong with you? Theres no difference. Music is music. It exists beyond anything. And in the end, I was just quite roused, so it encouraged me to come out. I think thats a good reaction to have, rather than going the other way. 

As much progress as weve made, your song with Italian singer Jack Savoretti, called Ready to Call This Love, is still a rare thing. 

Well, let me tell you: Hes a really good looking guy. (Laughs.) Hes charming. Hes like an old-fashioned movie star, but in a 30-something-year-old body.

Is that what appealed to you about him when you chose your male duet partner?

His voice. Firstly, the fact that he didnt even bat an eyelid at the fact that it was a love song and it didnt even come up in conversation. He was just like, Its really beautiful. That was it. Id love to do this, its really beautiful, full stop. And then the fact that his voice is such a contrast to mine and all that, and when you consider that hes a married guy and hes got a kid, it was just a no-brainer for him. 

People are gonna say, Why didnt Mika pick a gay duet partner?

And Im gonna say, Well, why not? Thats it. Thats really all I can say. Because its beautiful. And I was asked this, actually, in an interview a week ago for a major gay website in Europe and I said, Have you done interviews with heterosexual couples who have done duets? Girl and guy? He said, Yeah. I said, Did you ever ask them if they were ever actually in a relationship or if they actually wanted to be in a relationship with each other? If they actually found each other attractive? So I said, Whats the difference between two guys? He said, Oh yeah, youve got a good point. I said, Considering you’re coming from a gay website, dont you think you shouldve thought about that beforehand?” 

Theres a real push for LGBTQ roles to go to LGBTQ actors, and some people feel the same when it comes to music, especially since duets between two men happen so infrequently.

And I completely respect that. If anything, I really like and I respect that opinion, and I love the fact that a song like this can even provoke a question like that. I think thats a good thing. Its a good conversation to have. Its not like, Oh, is the song cool or not? Its nothing to do with that. Its, Should I have had a gay guy or not with me? I think thats a really good dialogue to provoke. 

Could you have even released a song like this at the beginning of your career? Would that have been allowed?

Allowed? I dont know. I would like to say that it wouldve been allowed. But its hard to imagine it wouldve happened. Thats the most diplomatic answer I can come up with. And you know what, besides, I wouldve given songs to my partner to sing, but the truth is that Andy sings like a donkey so it wouldve sounded like s**t. The only thing he knows how to sing are Morrissey songs because theres only one or two notes in them! (Wickedly, playfully laughs.) 

And on that note, Ill let you go to bed.

(Laughs.) And on that note, hes gonna kill me. 

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1 hour ago, Martyna said:

We dont really know who we are, and anyone who says, I know who I am” … youre never gonna ####ing know really who you are. 

 

 

WTF?? I know who I am. I've never ever had any question. He needs to stop assuming different people share his experiences. 😒

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1 hour ago, Martyna said:

And you know what, besides, I wouldve given songs to my partner to sing, but the truth is that Andy sings like a donkey so it wouldve sounded like s**t. The only thing he knows how to sing are Morrissey songs because theres only one or two notes in them! (Wickedly, playfully laughs.) 

And on that note, Ill let you go to bed.

(Laughs.) And on that note, hes gonna kill me. 

 

:mfr_lol:

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3 hours ago, Martyna said:

R&B and hip-hop, which is something I just cant do because its not my musical culture.

 

Thank god!! :aah:

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3 hours ago, Poisonyoulove said:

 

WTF?? I know who I am. I've never ever had any question. He needs to stop assuming different people share his experiences. 😒

 

I also stumbled across this sentence... but I guess what he means is that we all change throughout our lives, so if you know yourself for the moment, it does not mean you still will after a, well, life-changing event like the death of someone you love. Of course, some adjust quicker to such things than others - but there's always challenges in life that make you learn new things, also about yourself. Do you really know how exactly you would react to any given situation, especially extreme situations that you didn't ask for but that just happen? I certainly don't, although I'm pretty sure I'm strong enough it wouldn't break me, but I'm sure it would change me in some way.

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29 minutes ago, mellody said:

 

I also stumbled across this sentence... but I guess what he means is that we all change throughout our lives, so if you know yourself for the moment, it does not mean you still will after a, well, life-changing event like the death of someone you love. Of course, some adjust quicker to such things than others - but there's always challenges in life that make you learn new things, also about yourself. Do you really know how exactly you would react to any given situation, especially extreme situations that you didn't ask for but that just happen? I certainly don't, although I'm pretty sure I'm strong enough it wouldn't break me, but I'm sure it would change me in some way.

 

Maybe I just over-analyze my thoughts too much, I'm very seldom surprised by my reactions or feelings. And I have lost close family members and had traumatic health issues in recent years... maybe I'm surprised by how much I've been able to endure, but I wouldn't classify that as not knowing myself. 

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ADVOCATE

https://www.advocate.com/music/2019/10/08/mika-spotlights-1950s-gay-cruising-culture-sanremo-music-video?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=music

 
Mika Spotlights 1950s Gay Cruising Culture in 'Sanremo' Music Video
 

Mika went cruising on the Italian Riviera.

The out singer's new music video "Sanremo," set in the Italian tourist destination, spotlights an era in recent Western European history when homosexuality was illegal and underground.

 

The black-and-white video depicts Mika saying goodbye to his wife and family — before leaving to discover an underground bar where LGBTQ folks are mingling. Along the way, he evades both police officers and members of the clergy who eye him suspiciously.

Set in the 1950s, the music video includes real audio materials from that time period condemning gay people — and even the voice from a gay person coming out in order to give others "courage."

 

The video concludes with Mika's cruising cut short by a police officer. The singer hides his face as his car is pulled over and an ominous message is played.

“The policy of this administration is that we do not knowingly hire homosexuals, and if we find a homosexual in our administration, we terminate their employment without delay," a voice from the real-life audio declared.

 

Directed by W.I.Z., "Sanremo" depicts "an era when homosexuality, if not illegal, was socially unacceptable, a time of discrimination and persecution. San Remo represents his utopian dream, a fictional place of liberation and transcendence," the filmmaker said in a statement.

W.I.Z. also directed Mika's music video for "Tiny Love." Both tracks are part of his newest album, My Name Is Michael Holbrook.

Mika himself is no stranger to discrimination due to his sexual orientation. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that he overheard one of the heads of a major record label saying they would not sign him because his music was "a little too gay."

His songs, including hits like "Grace Kelly," also reportedly did not receive airtime on U.S. radio due to a similar stigma. "We can't get behind a man singing in falsetto that he wants to be like a woman," a gatekeeper told Mika's mother, according to his collaborator Greg Wells

 

 

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Black Book

https://bbook.com/culture-2/mikas-new-video-for-sanremo-is-a-love-letter-to-the-beautiful-italian-town/

Posted on October 4, 201

 

Mika’s New Video For ‘Sanremo’ is a Love Letter to the Beautiful Italian Town

 

Every once in awhile, beauty and defiance come crashing together in a most spectacular way. To wit, the gorgeously shot video for the sultry new Mika single “Sanremo.” It is an once a love letter to the ethereal Ligurian Coast Italian town, and a reminder that there are those who would still chose to marginalize the gay community.

Filmed in striking black and white to depict a 1950s when, as director WIZ reminds, “homosexuality, if not illegal, was socially unacceptable, a time of discrimination and persecution. ‘Sanremo’ represents liberation and transcendence.”

The track itself is a velvety smooth slice of Euro-R&B, with sonic nods to the likes of Pet Shop Boys and George Michael. Mika’s voice is at its cool, breathy best, as he enthuses, “To feel like this / Is one in a million.”

 

The track is taken from his excellent new longplayer My Name is Michael Holbrook, which he says is, “Inspired by life in all its glory and all its dark challenges. An explosion of joy, color and emotion even though it was born in one of the most challenging periods for my family and I.”

The album is also steeped in a bit of simple, but essential philosophy, which often comes with arriving on the other side of tragedy.

“I have come to realize,” he opens up, “that the only thing that matters in life are the people we love and the stories we tell. This album is dedicated to those people I love and to the notion that although we all hopefully grow with age, we should do so without losing our colors, our warmth or whimsy.”

What he said.

(N.B. Mika will be extensively touring Europe from November through February.)

 

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Billboard

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8532195/mika-sanremo-video

 

Mika Goes Cruising for a Forbidden Love in 'Sanremo' Video

 

10/4/2019 by Stephen Daw

 

After four years away from the spotlight, Mika has finally returned with his new album My Name Is Michael Holbrook -- and he's giving fans yet another reason to celebrate the news.

 

On Friday (Oct. 4), alongside the release of his long-awaited fifth studio album, Mika released a new video for his song "Sanremo," a shimmering pop jam about finding a place just for you and your lover. The video follows that thread, but down a much darker and more unexpected path. 

Taking place in what appears to be 1950s Italy, the video (directed by W.I.Z.) sees Mika's character kissing his wife and daughter goodbye as they head out for the day. The star then nervously paces around his apartment before ulitmately venturing out into the city, looking for a gay partner to shack up with while anxiously avoiding suspicion from police, clergymen and others. 

 

Eventually, he follows a butcher to an eccentric, underground gay bar, complete with non-binary individuals, shirtless men having milk poured on their abs, and some flirtatious sailors looking for a good time. He ultimately leaves with another man, but on his way home is stopped by a uniformed police officer, as an audio clip plays of what sounds like an Italian politician speaking about firing any homosexuals working for his administration.

In a statement, the video's director W.I.Z. says that the new clip takes place in "an era when homosexuality, if not illegal, was socially unacceptable, a time of discrimination and persecution. 'Sanremo' represents his utopian dream, a fictional place of liberation and transcendence."

 

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HUFFPOST

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mika-my-name-is-michael-holbrook-album_n_5d96021fe4b0f5bf7970740e?ke8

 

 

12 Years After ‘Grace Kelly,’ Mika Turns Personal Trauma Into Joyous Pop Once More

 

The singer says his new album, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook,” was “written as medicine,” but he hasn’t lost his sense of campy queer fun either.
 

After more than a decade as a falsetto-voiced purveyor of pop music, Mika is hitting the reset button.

 

On “Grace Kelly,” off his 2007 debut album, “Life in Cartoon Motion,” the Lebanese-born British singer announced he’d gone “identity mad” as he crooned about adopting different identities, namely the 1950s screen siren of the song’s title and Freddie Mercury. (The song itself is a nod to his frustrations with studio executives who wanted to restyle his image.)

 

By contrast, the title of Mika’s fifth album is “My Name Is Michael Holbrook,” the first time he’s formally referenced part of his birth name ― Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr. ― in a musical project. 

 

“It was written as medicine,” the 36-year-old told HuffPost. “I needed to re-find that young guy who was writing songs in his apartment at 17 or 18. I felt this urgent sense, this need to reconnect with the elation and joy of making music after a good three years of having lost that sensation. At a certain point, you’re like, ‘Well, who am I, really?’ So I kind of used my legal name in order to … write about myself with more freedom.” 

 

Released last week, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” proves Mika hasn’t lost his flair for disco-tinged exuberance. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the album’s leadoff single, “Ice Cream,” a summery bop laden with sexual innuendo. “Tiny Love,” meanwhile, harks back to Elton John or “Bohemian Rhapsody”-era Queen with its anthemic choruses and vocal harmonies. 

 

But as its title suggests, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” is also an intensely personal affair. “Paloma” is a contemplative ballad Mika wrote about his sister, who nearly died after falling from an apartment window and impaling herself on a fence post. The sultry, if deceptively titled, “Sanremo” was inspired by the adolescent awkwardness he experienced at age 13 while visiting the coastal Italian city of the title with his family.

 

The “Sanremo” video, which dropped Oct. 4, interprets the song’s escapist lyrics in a wildly different way. In it, Mika plays a closeted gay man in the 1950s who, after kissing his wife and daughter goodbye, ventures through the city streets and into a speakeasy-style bar filled with sailors and drag queens, in search of a male companion. The video, viewable below, concludes with Mika, who has been dodging suspicious glances from passersby, being stopped by a police officer as audio from what sounds like a vintage radio broadcast warns of the “dangers” of homosexuality.

 

The narrative of the “Sanremo” video could be seen as a nod to Mika’s own trajectory as an artist. He came out publicly as gay in 2012, though the media had been scrutinizing the queer subtext of his work for years. “It’s only through my music that I’ve found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics,” he said at the time. “This is my real life.”

 

Much as Mika looked to Mercury and George Michael for inspiration, he has, in turn, helped pave the way for the likes of Troye Sivan and Sam Smith, who have not shied away from expressing their sexuality and gender identity through their music. Still, he believes LGBTQ artists continue to face a “complicated” reality when it comes to the world of mainstream pop.

 

“I refuse to define the challenges associated with being LGBTQ purely with media acceptance,” he said. “It’s easier to know you’re going to be given a shot, and from that point of view, you’re going to face less discrimination in the media sense or the music industry sense — discrimination which I definitely suffered, and a lot of artists did much more than me. But that doesn’t mean it’s simpler. Every person’s journey is atypical.” 

 

Mika’s defiance of convention has always been present in his live performances, too. In September, he embarked on his six-date Tiny Love Tiny Tour in Brooklyn, New York, with a high-energy set that was, as always, delightfully campy. He’ll return to the concert stage Nov. 10 in London, where he kicks off his Revelation Tour across Europe. 

 

One thing he isn’t deeply concerned with, however, is commercial viability. After the global breakout of “Life in Cartoon Motion,” his three subsequent releases — 2009’s “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” 2012’s “The Origin of Love” and 2015’s “No Place in Heaven” — garnered critical acclaim but did not yield an across-the-board hit like “Grace Kelly.”

 

If you’re finding yourself a niche artist — which I am — really go to the niche. Mika

The flip side of that cooling reception, Mika said, is creative freedom. In fact, he’d like to divert even further from the mainstream by writing a movie musical or staging an opera in the future. 

 

“If you’re finding yourself a niche artist — which I am — really go to the niche,” he said. “Think of 15 people. Think of 100 people. What would those 15 or 100 people think?”

“I have no delusions about commercial grandeur,” he added. “My delusions of grandeur are purely storytelling or conceptual ones, and thank God I have those. Otherwise I wouldn’t want to get up in the morning.”   

 

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LEMON WIRE

https://lemonwire.com/2019/10/07/review-my-name-is-michael-holbrook/

October 7, 2019
 
Review: “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”
 

MIKA’s fifth studio album, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, is a full dive backward into the energy of his earlier albums. Rather than being full of a predictable medley of pop tunes, however, MIKA’s latest release manages to balance the light and shade of life and love throughout its thirteen tracks. Musically, you can expect the use of lots of synths, piano, and experimental rhythms.

My Name Is Michael Holbrook

“My Name Is Michael Holbrook” was released last Friday, October 4th, through Casablanca and Republic Records. Before its release, a total of five singles were released earlier this year between the end of May and September. These were, in order: “Ice Cream”, “Tiny Love”, “Sanremo”, “Dear Jealousy”, and “Tomorrow”.

With this album, MIKA dives deep into the personal, with themes of love, sexuality, and identity pervading. But despite the personal subject matter, MIKA manages to bring together a collection of songs that go past the personal, and hit the universal time and time again.

While “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” is, as a whole, overwhelmingly positive, it does contain a few tracks that show off a more contemplative gloom from the pop singer. In the song, “Paloma”, for instance, MIKA reflects on the near-death experience of his sister. In an interview with Edge Media Network, he goes into more detail on the experience and the song.

“It’s about my sister and it’s about the night that I found her on railings having fallen from the window of the fourth floor of her apartment… And I’m standing barefoot in my boxers.And she’s dying on the railing. And I’m looking at her, at that situation… when I started writing about it… there was beauty in the fact that I saw her there in the most grotesque situation… She survived, that’s why it’s easier to see the beauty in it.”

Highlight Tracks

During my listen of MIKA’s “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, these were a few of the tracks that stood out to me the most. These are the songs I foresee coming back to time and time again.

“Tiny Love”

“Tiny Love” is the opening track to “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, and it surely earns its place by being possibly the strongest song on the entire album. It starts off slow and inviting, with just MIKA and his piano. But it soon transitions into a more driving and upbeat rhythm that catapults you into the bombastic chorus.

In “Tiny Love”, you can clearly hear the influences that Freddie Mercury and Queen had on MIKA. From his vocal inflections, to the very structure of the song itself, the similarities are undeniable. It’s a success as both a tribute to Mercury, as well as an authentic expression of MIKA’s own voice.

“Platform Ballerinas”

“Platform Ballerinas” is an equally heavy and poppy tribute to feminism, in defense of women who are attacked or put down because of the way they dress or act. It’s the empowering MIKA track for this album, with lyrics attacking the beauty standards and expectations that society pushes on women to act “girly”. The highlight line for this highlight track is the often repeated phrase, “Cause that don’t make her less of a girl”.

But MIKA doesn’t just rely on a socially progressive message to make the song work. The upbeat, dancy synths help it stand head and shoulders above a lot of the other songs. If I were to predict a new dance anthem to sweep the country, I’d definitely keep “Platform Ballerinas” in the running.

“Sanremo”

This track gets an honorable mention for being one of the more catchy songs on the album. It’s refreshingly bright, poppy synths mesh well with an accompanying acoustic guitar that brings out a dose of Latin flair.

Overall, “Sanremo” is a song that encompasses the central feeling that “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” pushes out to the world. That feeling is glorious, blissful, and carefree, and it permeates from the beginning to the end of this album.

Final Thoughts

“My Name Is Michael Holbrook” features classic MIKA magic, with a pounding pulse that brings out the love found in its lyrics like a heartbeat. While there are several tracks sprinkled throughout the album that focus more on the gloom than the glory, they serve almost as palate cleansers more than anything else. They’re there to bring the mood back down, reminding us all for a moment of reality before pulling the covers back over us with another comforting and blissful track.

So if you’re in the mood for some uplifting tunes, there probably isn’t a better contemporary album out there right now that can do the job better than MIKA’s “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”.

 

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EDGE Boston

https://boston.edgemedianetwork.com/entertainment///281584/_review_::_my_name_is_michael_holbrook
Monday Oct 14, 2019

 

13 minutes ago, NaoMika said:

I can agree with this review in many aspects. Straightforward written with positive comments.  :thumb_yello:

 

 

My Name Is Michael Holbrook
by JC Alvarez
Monday Oct 14, 2019

 

https://boston.edgemedianetwork.com/entertainment///281584/_review_::_my_name_is_michael_holbrook

 

Pop...with a purpose.

Yes! Pop music can have a relevance; it doesn't have to always be about the sexy "thrusts" or the torture of "heartache" or the sound of the 808 drums. On his latest full-length album release, MIKA took some time — four years actually — to get the formula just right. The singer/songwriter has minimized the clutter, singling himself among artists and acts on today's pop spectrum by borrowing heavily from what's popular but also throwing in plenty of his own personality to really excite on the narrative.

 

MIKA has given the new album an appropriately autobiographical title. On "My Name Is Michael Holbrook," the setlist brightly features the strength of the artist's lyrical sense and especially his beautifully dynamic vocals. The new album continues to promote MIKA as an able lyricist and his musicality undoubtedly marks him among one of the most interesting musicians currently on the pop music spectrum. There are several influences floating around the album, which can't be denied.

 

Many of the tracks are reminiscent of Elton John's emotive ability, while others have a spectacularly Freddie Mercury like appeal (which he's often compared to). Fortunately on every effort MIKA is able to allow his own sound to filter through; the unobtrusive instrumentation and arrangements support his beautifully solid vocals. "Sanremo" is easily transportive, with its Nu-Disco wash and hip swing. It's just one of the more romantically-infused tracks; another is an ode to his own sister, "Paloma," which beautifully captures his affection for his sibling.

 

Uncompromisingly moving at many times, and heart-breaking at others, the album's setlist is perfectly constructed — almost playing out like a musical. MIKA exploits genres and styles that haven't been relevant in recent pop releases, there are jaunts into '60s-sounding riffs, while others are snapshots from Elton John's songbook, but everything sounds very MIKA, and authentically so. On the duet "Ready To Call This Love" featuring Jack Savoretti, the pair joyfully revel in a gloriously lush love song that has a significantly contemporary feel.

 

The track moves effortlessly into the up-tempo "Cry," which is much more reminiscent of '80s Euro-Pop, with its synth beats and wispy sound effects. "Platform Ballerinas" keeps the beat moving with its much deeper and hooky riffs. Its a powerfully affirming anthem and perhaps the most joyful in the bunch. "Ice Cream" is every bit the MIKA we've all come to know and love; the track has an eruptively sexy chorus that you just want to wrap your mouth around. If it wasn't fall, the track would have been a perfect song of the summer — it's fortunate for us climate change is a thing.

 

 

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Pride Source

https://pridesource.com/article/qa-mika-on-his-cathartic-new-album-writing-it-on-a-shtty-white-piano-the-consequences-of-being-out/

 

🔻PDF Three pages 803kb 2019-10_Pride Source_MIKA.pdf

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On 10/8/2019 at 1:05 AM, Martyna said:

https://pridesource.com/article/qa-mika-on-his-cathartic-new-album-writing-it-on-a-shtty-white-piano-the-consequences-of-being-out/

 

 

It’s 8:30 in Italy, and maybe if Mika didn’t feel so deeply connected to his new album he’d just want to go to bed. But the sparky glam-pop performer doesn’t mind the before-bed call; in fact, he’s thrilled to be talking about “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” because “this phase is actually more engaging and interesting, and generally I am enjoying it way more than any other album I’ve had to promote.” 

 

Mika’s past work, of course, famously includes his 2007 debut  “Life in Cartoon Motion,” wherein he emerged an exuberant-sounding human cartoon, with songs like “Grace Kelly” and “Lollipop.” This album, his first in more than four years, is different in that its core was created after discovering his family’s history. And though it’s been exhilarating to promote, it’s also “ironic considering it’s not the simplest time in my life,” the 36-year-old Beirut-born performer, whose birth name is Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr., says. 

 

Mika spoke about how coming out in 2012 may have affected his career, the “s**tty” white piano he used to write “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” and why he won’t be singing with his romantic partner anytime soon. Despite his admitted tiredness, Mike was introspective – even rollicking – when we finally connected, once he’d won his battle against rush-hour traffic.

 

What is not simple about life for you right now?

Well, it all started when I had this premonition about three and a half years ago: I felt like I thought I had grown up 10, 11 years ago and I was like, “You know, I’m an adult.” And nothing appeared to change. Sure enough, as I started writing the record so much change happened in my private life and my personal life, losing five people close to me, including my grandmother.

 

Im sorry to hear that.

Well, it’s OK. Thank you. But it happens to all of us. But then on the day I wrote “Tiny Love,” the same day, I get a phone call saying, “You gotta get on a plane ’cause your mom’s sick,” and then that became this running thing throughout the writing of this record. My mom got more and more and more sick with different diseases that got worse and worse, and you know my mom and I have this very strong link. I was thrown out of school at the age of 8 and she looked at me and instead of being nice to me she just said, “People like you end up in prison or they end up successful, and over my dead body will I have a son who ends up in prison.” (Laughs.) 

 

You definitely chose the right path, didnt you?

I didn’t really have a choice, trust me, if you knew my mom. (Laughs.) And she trained me three to four hours a day at the age of 8, and I cried every day ’cause I didn’t want to do it. Then, within four months, I was singing at the Royal Opera House in London, and within six months I was a soloist at the Royal Opera House. So, from that point on, my life changed. 

You know, she worked with me up until this record. So this album was kind of made in the midst of a lot of that, and instead of retreating and taking a step back – it interfaced with that darkness from multiple sides – I actually went toward life. I said, “I’m gonna go toward what makes me, me. I’m gonna take my colors – the ones from when I was 17 – and make them shine even brighter. I’m not gonna care about commercial circumstances or the climate of the music industry or the fact that it seems to be that all storytelling seems to be happening mostly in R&B and hip-hop, which is something I just can’t do because it’s not my musical culture. I’m just gonna go for it. I’m gonna put together a romantic, emotionally driven, heartfelt record and try and make it at the service of emotion and hopefully it’ll be bold enough to stand on its own two legs.” That’s how the album came about and how it was written. 

 

Has this album been cathartic for you? 

It’s an extremely cathartic piece of work for me. And it’s also a kind of provocation to myself where I realize that this idea that we spend most of our lives building our foundations on people that we love and we rely on, there comes a point when that version of your foundation starts to change or shift or disappear, and you have to do it in a different way and the only way you can do it is by knowing where you come from, by being at peace with yourself and celebrating, also, all the people around you who you love. Feeling that sense of self-worth is the only way you can have a chance of figuring out where the hell you’re going to end up. We don’t really know who we are, and anyone who says, “I know who I am” … you’re never gonna ####ing know really who you are. 

 

But we think well figure it out when were older.

Then we fall in love, we get our heart broken, and we start again. 

 

Its a lot of distractions. 

A lot. But that’s OK. I don’t mind that. That’s also one of the main motivations for writing for me, so I’ll take it.

 

Which motivation are you referring to? 

Trying to figure out who we are and that changing all the time. 

 

Can you tell me about the first song that you wrote for the album and why you decided to start there?

It was born in a graveyard. (Laughs.) In a place that I had never been to, that I had completely disassociated from my identity, and that was Atlanta, Georgia. 

 

Right, you went to see your family plot. 

Yeah, exactly. I went to see my family plot, and you know I’ve always said, “I’m half Lebanese, I grew up in lots of different countries, I’m an immigrant. A homosexual!” So I’m the furthest thing from a person from Atlanta, Georgia whose family had cotton fields. I mean, that is the weirdest part. I just don’t know what that is. 

 

But you knew about this family history? 

Hardly.

In discovering this part of your family history, were new parts of yourself revealed?

I didn’t know about it that much, I really didn’t. My legal name is my father’s name, and he actually had his own crazy journey because he was born in Jerusalem and then grew up in Cairo, and then grew up in Washington, then grew up in Italy, then grew up in London, then grew up in Rome. So during my entire life, it was so hard to understand who he was or where he came from, so it’s just so strange for me to have delved into that, but I just felt like I knew so much about my mom’s side of the family, and I wanted to know everything he hadn’t told me about his family’s family. So I delved into it. I went and saw this Penniman plot at Bonaventure Cemetery, and I saw part of my name on a tombstone, half corroded by time. Just had this weird reaction to it. Like, “Wow, I’ve always rejected my legal name,” because my mom called me Mika from the time I was born, but it is my name and it’s also my father’s and I know ####-all about it.

The only way I can describe that feeling is: Have you ever had that kind of feeling that there’s another part of your house that you just hadn’t noticed? Another part of your apartment that just wasn’t there? Then one day after four years you might discover it. It’s weird. I didn’t really like it, but I found it fascinating and it was this weird Tim Burton moment, seeing your name on a tombstone. I went back home and I wrote this song called “Tiny Love.” It sums up the project in a good way. It’s like, “I might be Michael Holbrook, born in 1983, but I can be so much more when I allow myself to be, and if I allow myself to dream to be whatever I want to be.” 

 

And you bought a white piano because thats what you were playing when you were 16. 

Yeah. Superstition. (Laughs.) 

 

You were being superstitious?

I don’t think it’s superstition. I don’t like looking at a black piano, and I don’t know why I don’t like looking at a brown piano. For some reason this idea of a white piano I got used to when I was a kid and so that’s all I really want to see. 

 

What does the white represent to you? 

Non-institutional education. (Laughs.) I was going to music college, I was going to rehearsal. Even when I was at conservatoire at the Royal College of Music, as an adult I was studying as a baritone and all of the pianos were black pianos – academic, institutional lessons on black pianos – and then the white piano was something you’d see on the cover of a Barry Gibb album. I had a white piano and actually, to tell the full story, I had a black piano when I was a child and that piano I decided, with a friend of mine, to paint it white when I was six years old. Ever since then it stayed white, and it’s this kind of really tacky house paint. Terrible finish. It’s a piece of crap kind of paint job. But I’ve used that, so for me I was going to write on a white piano all the stuff I wanted to do – all of my music – and then I would go and sing, like, (John) Braham and Italian songs that were written 100 years ago on the black piano, so I associated the two with that.

So when it came to actually coming back to writing in my home studio I wanted to write on a white piano. So I went out and bought a white piano and it turned out to be the worst piano that they had in the entire piano warehouse. I was like, “Why don’t you have a better piano?” He was like, “’Cause no one wants a ####ing white piano, so we give them to people who don’t give a s**t about piano playing.” He was such an asshole. People who work at music stores are famously rude. So anyway, I bought the s**tty white piano that sounds like a piece of crap and I wrote the entire album on it. 

 

Youve acknowledged disappointment in the commercial aspects of the industry. Do you think coming out ever had any effect on your career?

I don’t know. I’d like to think no. I think that the commercial consequences of my sexuality were more to do with what was indelibly written into my music, by me, and inevitably immiscible when you listen to it from before I was even signed. That aspect did have consequences, especially in the United States. But it’s OK. It’s not OK now, but back then I made peace with the fact that I was considered a little bit less thanand when I asked why they’d be like, “Well… .” I would never get a clear answer. But I always felt like it kind of was there.

Times have changed. That’s not the case anymore, and thank god. But I do think, if anything, that kind of frustration that I felt, and some of the limitations, some of the commercial consequences of my sexuality, actually provoked me to come out. If I think about it honestly, that frustration actually riled me so much that it encouraged me to come out publicly. You’re like, “What’s the point of being in a pigeonhole? What is wrong with you?” There’s no difference. Music is music. It exists beyond anything. And in the end, I was just quite roused, so it encouraged me to come out. I think that’s a good reaction to have, rather than going the other way. 

 

As much progress as weve made, your song with Italian singer Jack Savoretti, called Ready to Call This Love,” is still a rare thing. 

Well, let me tell you: He’s a really good looking guy. (Laughs.) He’s charming. He’s like an old-fashioned movie star, but in a 30-something-year-old body.

 

Is that what appealed to you about him when you chose your male duet partner?

His voice. Firstly, the fact that he didn’t even bat an eyelid at the fact that it was a love song and it didn’t even come up in conversation. He was just like, “It’s really beautiful.” That was it. “I’d love to do this, it’s really beautiful, full stop.” And then the fact that his voice is such a contrast to mine and all that, and when you consider that he’s a married guy and he’s got a kid, it was just a no-brainer for him. 

 

People are gonna say, Why didnt Mika pick a gay duet partner?

And I’m gonna say, “Well, why not?” That’s it. That’s really all I can say. Because it’s beautiful. And I was asked this, actually, in an interview a week ago for a major gay website in Europe and I said, “Have you done interviews with heterosexual couples who have done duets? Girl and guy?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Did you ever ask them if they were ever actually in a relationship or if they actually wanted to be in a relationship with each other? If they actually found each other attractive?” So I said, “What’s the difference between two guys?” He said, “Oh yeah, you’ve got a good point.” I said, “Considering you’re coming from a gay website, don’t you think you should’ve thought about that beforehand?” 

 

Theres a real push for LGBTQ roles to go to LGBTQ actors, and some people feel the same when it comes to music, especially since duets between two men happen so infrequently.

And I completely respect that. If anything, I really like and I respect that opinion, and I love the fact that a song like this can even provoke a question like that. I think that’s a good thing. It’s a good conversation to have. It’s not like, “Oh, is the song cool or not?” It’s nothing to do with that. It’s, “Should I have had a gay guy or not with me?” I think that’s a really good dialogue to provoke. 

 

Could you have even released a song like this at the beginning of your career? Would that have been allowed?

Allowed? I don’t know. I would like to say that it would’ve been allowed. But it’s hard to imagine it would’ve happened. That’s the most diplomatic answer I can come up with. And you know what, besides, I would’ve given songs to my partner to sing, but the truth is that Andy sings like a donkey so it would’ve sounded like s**t. The only thing he knows how to sing are Morrissey songs because there’s only one or two notes in them! (Wickedly, playfully laughs.) 

 

And on that note, Ill let you go to bed.

(Laughs.) And on that note, he’s gonna kill me. 

 

 

Mika22019.thumb.jpg.1940ca5f93909aa71ffcbdaabad701a0.jpg

 

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