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Thanks for that.

 

"If I make a certain amount of money on my live shows," he says, "then I can turn my live show actually into a big-top circus tent and take that all around the United States. And not have opening acts that are sub-par bands that no one's interested in ... instead, let's have trapeze artists."

 

 

I hope he is not thinking of just taking it around the States though.

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THE ATLATA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Radio slowly warming up to unconventional 23-year-old artist

By NICK MARINO

Published on: 02/17/2007

 

England's brightest new pop star has long fingers, gangly limbs and a tiny waist. His hair falls in dark ringlets. The American pop star he most resembles is John Mayer. The animal he most resembles is a giraffe.

 

His name is unisex. In his 23 years, he's only met one other Mika, and that was a Japanese lady who accompanied him on piano in music college.

 

This Mika  the English one, whose name is pronounced MEE-kuh  has the No. 1 song in Britain at the moment, "Grace Kelly." Perhaps you've heard it. It's a real piano-pounder with giant chord progressions and a stratospheric falsetto chorus. The song's lyrics allude to Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant Queen singer whose showtuney sensibility resonates in Mika's melodies.

 

Some American radio stations, including local adult-alternative station Dave FM, have begun playing "Grace Kelly," while others are thinking about it. Mika is here in Atlanta to see if he can persuade them.

 

Chris Brannen, operations manager at Dave, says the station is already spinning the song two to three times a day, focusing on weekends and overnight airplay, and that he's planning to start "hand-placing it throughout the day." He compares it to another left-field hit that swept England before breaking in the States: Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

 

"I think with the buzz and the flash and the pizzazz that Mika has around him, I think that it's going to be a hit ... it's catchy. And yes, it will be one of those songs that, after you hear it for the 300th time  very similar to 'Crazy'  people [will start] saying, 'If I hear that song one more time...' But that's how hits are made."

 

Hits like Mika's album, "Life In Cartoon Motion," a kaleidoscopic record integrating piano pop and disco throb. While it won't be out in the States until March 27, it, too, is No. 1 back home in Blighty.

 

'Setting trends isn't easy'

 

On this sunny Valentine's Day afternoon, he's high above Buckhead in the penthouse conference room of Top 40 radio station Star 94. He's already given a joint performance for employees of Top 40 station Q100, and alternative rock station 99X. Now here he is, helping decorate for his next promotional gig. After this, he's got a private concert at the Realm condominium tower, sponsored by Dave FM. Then it's off to Boston, then New York, and then back overseas for a tour.

 

Mika grasps a purple balloon, fills it with helium, lifts it to his lips and inhales. He sings the hook of "Grace Kelly" in a comically squeaky pitch, riffing on his own voice, a voice that once caused a record executive to ask him, "Do you have to sing so high?"

 

Well, he doesn't have to. The guy started studying voice at age 11; his first gig was at the Royal Opera House. He can sing in a low, rounded voice  and sometimes he does  but his trademark move is a vocal leap into thin air.

 

Here in the States, Mika is still mostly unknown. Perhaps because of this, or perhaps it's just his nature, he punctuates his refined manners with a self-deprecating wit. He exhibits a rare combination of precociousness and modesty.

 

If he were back home, he points out, he could be "swanning around" at the Brits  the U.K.'s version of the Grammys. He's not nominated, but that's because he's not eligible this year. "I keep getting text messages saying 'Have a great time tonight,'" he says. "And I'm like, 'I'm playing the condo next door.'"

 

Balloons are placed at the doorway, and Valentine's candy is strewn across the conference room table. Before long, the Star 94 staff gathers around. Joel Klaiman, a Universal Records bigwig in a pinstriped jacket, introduces his artist by saying, "You probably won't ever see Mika in a conference room again." Mika, he says, already has confirmed dates on "The Tonight Show" and "Good Morning America," and "Saturday Night Live" is trying to work around Mika's schedule.

 

Mika sits at a big keyboard and plays three songs. The first is "My Interpretation," a breakup song disguised as a jaunty pop tune. The second is "Love Today," a rave-up that starts big and grows bigger. Last comes "Grace Kelly," which he says was written in a fit of anger after feeling rejected and frustrated by a music business that wouldn't give him any attention.

 

Needless to say, he's got plenty of attention now. With Mercury long dead and glam-rock band the Darkness looking like a one-hit wonder, Mika's closest stylistic contemporary is the singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, another restless soul whose work includes cabaret-pop and opera.

 

After Mika's conference room performance, Klaiman explains his sales pitch for getting such an unconventional artist on mainstream radio: "Setting trends isn't easy."

 

That's especially true when the competition is so much more familiar to American ears. In the Star 94 lobby are posters of Kelly Clarkson and James Blunt, the sorts of traditional pop acts with whom Mika is competing for air time.

 

Defining artistic success

 

After Star 94, Mika heads over to the Realm, arriving quite early for his performance.

 

At the suggestion of his manager, Mika kills time by exploring the leafy grandeur of West Paces Ferry. His song "Billy Brown," about a gay love affair, plays on the SUV's stereo.

 

"I think that I wasn't born out of any sound scene," Mika says. "I was rejected by pretty much all of them. So I kind of had to find my own way of doing things."

 

He says he gets his songwriting inspiration from his life and his friends' lives, or perhaps from "trashy magazines or fancy books."

 

Then the song "Big Girl" comes on  this is a kind of 21st century update of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," a song that Mika says was inspired by the Butterfly Lounge, a plus-sized ladies' club in Southern California.

 

Mika soon reveals that, for him, success means being "massive" enough to continue indulging his artistic muse.

 

"If I make a certain amount of money on my live shows," he says, "then I can turn my live show actually into a big-top circus tent and take that all around the United States. And not have opening acts that are sub-par bands that no one's interested in ... instead, let's have trapeze artists."

 

He's already on his way. When word leaked about Mika's recent private gig at the Roxy in Los Angeles, fans lined up around the block  so he hired jugglers to keep them entertained.

 

Time for the fans

 

The Dave FM show is held in the 8th floor lounge of the Realm, an upscale condo tower. About 125 fans have crowded into the space, having won a little Dave FM contest.

 

Essentially, the station started announcing the show at 9 a.m. one day not long ago, asking listeners who wanted to come to respond via e-mail. Within six hours, the guest list was full.

 

Dave FM's Brannen introduces Mika by comparing him to Queen, Elton John and George Michael.

 

After a brief delay due to an errant fire alarm, Mika bounds into the room, says, "Wow, that's the best entrance I've had in a long time," and plays the same three songs he played at Star 94.

 

The performances are no less charismatic than before.

 

Afterward, he greets a long line of fans, including 29-year-old Nikki Rahnert.

 

She tells Mika that his songs make her smile, and he signs a picture of himself with the words "To Nikki  I am glad the tunes make you smile. [Heart] Mika."

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

 

1. With his dizzying falsetto and funky instrumentation, Mika has moved to No. 1 on the British charts, and his single "Grace Kelly" is starting to get played on Atlanta stations, including Dave FM, which sponsored this listener event at Realm condos in Buckhead.

 

2. "I think that I wasn't born out of any sound scene. I was rejected by pretty much all of them. So I kind of had to find my own way of doing things," Mika says.

 

3. Pop singer Mika has left Britain and headed across the Atlantic in efforts to broaden his stardom. If the enthusiastic autograph seekers are any indication, he's well on his way to success. Chris Brannen, operations manager at Dave FM, describes him as full of buzz, flash and panache.

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Thinking that Mika's day described in the article was not just a one-off day..... what are everybody's thoughts??? The nature of the business is very hectic and demanding. When does it cross the line of being too much do you think? And who usually says so? The artist? Management? I was just thinking about his schedule related to this- he flew all over this country (USA) in a matter of days, he flies back to Europe, he's back here mid-March, back over there, and then here again late March! That's a lot and even that is simpified!

 

For the Queen fans, when they were just getting noticed, they were doing so much that Freddie developed voice problems and as a result had to cancel part of a US tour... isn't that right? And that's just one possibility...

 

What do you think?

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I was wondering the same thing. I have absolutely no idea how singers take

care of their voices so I have been worrying about how he's coping under this extreme schedule. Maybe his classical training helped him with little' tricks'

to lessen any strain on the voice?

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it's all about training. I've known lots of professional singers and it is virtually impossible to keep your voice 'healthy' and functioning without proper care.Training/vocal coaching is a must ..as is warming up exercises...you wouldn't expect someone to win a race from a standing start after sitting around all day :wink2:

I'm sure with Mika's background he knows this and will be fine :)

As for the schedule I'm afraid that's fairly common place with an album to promote ...I've known bands to be literally asleep on their feet after a constant round of promotion/gigs/photo shoots ..but god bless 'em they were still smiling!

It comes with the territory ....but this is what he wanted ..I'm sure he's loving every minute :naughty:

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I was shocked to see him turn up in Atlanta, and went in to a full day depression that I was not notified in advance. I could have met him in person If i'd have known. Since I don't listen to Dave FM, or any Atlanta broadcast station, I miss all the local stuff.

 

Anyway, I hope he was well received here but am not sure. Atlanta seems to become more and more conservative (and very coorporate driven) every year. I'm not sure how someone as original and "different" as Mika will be received.

 

Everyone I've played his song for has seemed to like it. I think the song "My Interpretation" would do better on Atlanta Air waves.

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  • 2 years later...

I live in South Carolina, they don't play him on the radio stations here, except this one time on an oldies radio station.. well not just oldies they play things lika Lady gaga, Pink, the beach boys etc.. but I would have fell in love FIRST HEAR of Grace Kelly.. which I did hear at a fashion show.. and now am OBSESSED. I just can't get enough MIKA!

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I live in South Carolina, they don't play him on the radio stations here, except this one time on an oldies radio station.. well not just oldies they play things lika Lady gaga, Pink, the beach boys etc.. but I would have fell in love FIRST HEAR of Grace Kelly.. which I did hear at a fashion show.. and now am OBSESSED. I just can't get enough MIKA!

 

:teehee: it's a nice interview, but why did you bump this old thread?

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