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15 January 2007

 

MIKA'S TARTAN UP HIS SOUND

 

Beirut singer boasts 'Scottish' accent

 

Exclusive by Beverley Lyons & Showbiz Liz

 

HE'S the 23-year-old Beirut-born singer/songwriter who has recently taken the country by storm.

 

Described as the musical heir to Freddie Mercury and voted the sound of 2007 by a BBC poll, he's quite a talent.

 

And now the Razz has managed to get an exclusive interview with the five-octave wielding vocalist billed as the 21st century's first superstar - Mika.

 

He confessed he was told off by a sound engineer for sounding too Scottish when he was recording his single Grace Kelly.

 

Mika Penniman lived in France and London after leaving Beirut when he was young, but he admitted: "Some people think I have a bit of a Scottish accent.

 

"The engineer noticed it after I recorded one section of the album. He said, 'Would you mind redoing it without the Scots accent?'

 

Even in Grace Kelly, it sounds a bit like The Proclaimers at one point. They are just amazing. They are not just good at writing pop songs, but they are organic writers who do complete pop records."

 

Mika studied at the Royal College of Music before dropping out to pursue a career mixing pop with his classical training, but it has taken him years of wheeling and dealing to be recognised as an original tour de force. He said: "I'd beg, steal and borrow to get a demo. I did it on borrowed time and managed to get people to work with me in Miami, staying in the studio from 9pm until 2am.

 

"I was pretty lucky and finally got four songs together, enough for a demo's worth."

 

Although he's made the No.3 spot in downloads alone this week, Mika says it's only now that he's come into his own.

 

He said: "I can hold my own now because I have sharpened my teeth.

 

"Because of the kind of music I make I was pretty much, up until a couple of months ago, too strange for commercial music companies and too melody driven and commercial for the indie crowd.

 

"I was rejected by all crowds and stood up on my own, found my own place. I was never cool enough to be in anyone else's band."

 

Mika, who went straight into the No.1 slot on the iTunes singles chart last week, admits he's now amazed by the acceptance he's had from some of the bands he's always admired.

 

He said: "I've got a lovely letter from Brian May (of Queen) and The Feeling have been fantastic.

 

"Brian had found out about me because fans of Queen were sending him emails saying he had to check out my stuff, in particular Grace Kelly.

 

"He had a listen and thought it was worth making a fuss about.

 

"His was one of the first reactions I got and apart from that loads of other amazing musicians have been supporting me in the last year."

 

Grace Kelly's full release is on January 29 and Mika's debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, comes out on February 5. Mika has already sold out his gig at Glasgow's ABC2 on February 26.

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