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Playlouder interview

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Ok, I don't think I remember seeing this one on here, but I find it hard to keep up now, there are soooo many posts!


From Playlouder website -


Mika Boo!

08 Feb 2007

If you've not heard of Mika yet then you're probably stupid. Jeremy Allen speaks to Britain's No.1 about Leona Lewis, Simon Cowell, Justin Hawkins, why talking about your sexuality is rubbish, and the fact he hates Queen. One of those is slightly erroneous...


Mika was originally meant to be part of our Class of 2007 series, and while class and 2007 are definitely words (or numbers) associable with Mr Penniman, he's a little too hot for a hot tip right now. January was his and he continues to ride February like a colossus... which is exactly what he is; standing about eight feet tall with exquisite cheekbones and Gilbert O'Sullivan hair, the chart topping pop sensation is difficult to ignore even without the ubiquitous 'Grace Kelly' ringing in your ears. I meet him in Soho and I'm flabbergasted by his sheer mass to be honest.


Whether you love or loathe Mika (and let's face it, I love him), you can't argue about his impact, his individuality, his ability to be a much better popstar than anybody around right now. He has galactic powers and makes them all look silly. Robbie was good, Hawkins was great, but Mika is better, and while comparisons with Freddie are certainly premature (and wide of the mark if you ask the man himself), his potential is boundless; and the fact his talent is so unpredictable should fill us all with unbridled anticipation, not see us scurry away like dark insects into damp crannies of woe and abashedness to mutter disapproval from.


Despite his cosmic powers, Mika is feeling tired today. He is after all, one man - albeit a super one - taking on the machine they call the music industry. "You've got to be careful what you wish for in life," he sighs, though he is of course kidding.


Congratulations on the album. Since I received it I've been unable to stop playing it, though I don't really need to play it as the songs are forever on repeat in my head.


"I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing?"


It's a good thing. If it's still happening in three months it might drive me insane though. But anyway, did you expect to already be sitting here with a No.1 under your belt?


"No. No. Not at all, not in the slightest. I knew the first album I made, I'd really have to try hard and make it one that would give me a career - to make a record that nobody else could, that sounded just like me, that had my own stamp on it. That was as much as I could guarantee. But you can't really guarantee anything else, and I thought, as long as I can make that record I've done what I need to do for this part of my life.


"It's amazing what's happened. I feel really lucky but at the same time there's a long way to go and a lot more to achieve, especially musically; my songwriting and so on. So there's a good side, there's also a bad side because now the atmosphere around it has changed a little bit."


Having had classical training, are you likely to bring more of that into your work...


"I do a lot of things with my voice that you're not really supposed to do, that's not kosher technique, but because of my classical training I'm able to do them without losing my voice. That's kind of there - that Russian discipline is instilled in me [Mika's music teacher was Russian]. It also means because I grew up with rock music, folk music, classical music and all other types in between, at the same time I'm not really snobby about music - it's all the same thing to me - it just has different ways of affecting your life."


As you grew up, did your classical tutor try to discourage those pop sensibilities?


"No, because I did it mostly in private. I never had posters on my wall, I just listened to the music and was concerned with the effect it had on me. So that made it a much more private affair which was good because it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. I felt completely normal listening to some kiddie French pop song and some Shabba Ranks. It sounds silly now, it was just me."


I think it's broken down a lot more now, but people used to nail themselves to a mast and have a strict identity where music was concerned.


"We're the best-off generation in Nineteenth culture now, it's kind of deconstructed the way that pop music works, especially from the music industry point of view. It's funny because you had the 70s and the 80s, and once those first proper hip hop albums came out of the states and then all these other kinds of lifestyle marketing bands and artists came out - especially at the end of the 80s and 90s - it all became about marketing and lifestyle around the artist as well as their music. I never really got in to that. That was always distracting. And that stank of record company interference.


"That's kind of being undone now. It's almost like people don't have the patience for it. They can go and download one song with the click of a button - even if they're unsigned a track can make it into the charts. That might be over simplifying it a little. But it's not ad sanctioned and as far as I'm concerned for the majority of artists that's a good thing."


On the other side you have godawful reality shows where people go and buy the product even though they know how cynical the whole process is...


"The only reason they buy it is because they created it. It's almost like the two million people who bought Leona Lewis' record feel they A&R'd it. If you worked on a project and helped create it and support it, then you're guaranteed to go and buy it, because if you don't then what's the point in being part of the programme. Those sort of programmes don't really bother me in so much as I think everyone who takes part in them - including the audience and the subsequent record buyers - know exactly what they're buying into, and they know exactly where it fits in to their musical taste. Maybe I'm being too optimistic about it."


You met Simon Cowell and he was none too impressed...


"It was when I was really young, before he was famous or had even done Pop Idol. He didn't get my style of songwriting, and he said a line which I'll never forget which was 'we've got the songs, all we need is the singer.' As soon as I heard that I knew this guy was in a different profession to me. The music industry, everyone assumes, is one huge melting pot, but there are so many different ways of approaching the music industry. His music industry is completely different to mine, or at least I try and make it feel that way. You have to give him kudos you know. He's a bit of a marketing guru as far as what he's achieved with his brand of fabricated music."


What he does isn't music is it?


"No it's not. It's lifestyle, reality, soundtrack..."


I hear when you grew up you got paid £45 for doing an Orbit chewing gum advert.


"(Laughs) I got really jilted. My mother and I were running around doing these jobs. I had no idea what we were supposed to be charging, nor did she. I wasn't doing it for the money I was doing it for the experience."



to be continued... ;)

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You were pleased to be involved...


"£45 to me was a dream sum. I had no idea you were supposed to add a couple of zeroes to that number. For backbreaking soulless session numbers. But I was cutting my teeth, getting time in the studio, that's all I really wanted."


Justin Hawkins from the Darkness made a tidy sum from ads.


"Yeah, but I never wrote them. I was a kid doing work on them, but he actually wrote the IKEA jingle. He funded that first album right? £100,000? Pretty good."


Did you like them at all? There's a falsetto thing going on in your music and theirs...


"I never really connected with that album ['Permission to Land'], I have to be honest. I look for different things in albums. It was hooky and entertaining."


I take it you're a Queen fan.


"Not as enormous a fan as a lot of people would assume."


You can hear Queen in 'Grace Kelly'.


"Freddie is there, but 'Grace Kelly' came from the idea that if I were going to write a little stick you insult song to the music industry I would do it with the most obvious melody. So I based it on this kind of classical opera melody - a classical choral opera chorus section from an opera. That's where the theatricality comes in, that's why it's reminiscent of Queen. But I name checked Freddie, so..."


You say you won't talk about sexuality or sexual orientation, but when writing a song like 'Billy Brown' [about a married man falling in love with another man], shouldn't you justify yourself in some way?


"No. I don't see how the two come together. Just because you write about things doesn't necessarily mean you have to immediately stick them into your own life. I mean I write a lot about a lot of things."


I noticed recently Kele from Bloc Party had started being a little more open about his sexuality because he was exploring it in song...


"You know, talk to me in a year. I've come across this before, people say 'why do you come up with little characters for songs? Why did you write 'Lollipop' if it wasn't about yourself? Why do you write about Big Girls?' all this stuff. The one thing about songwriting, especially in the 60s and 70s was that people used to tell stories and paint little pictures. You know, the Beatles flipped from story to story, they cut out newspaper clippings and wrote stories about them, that's how they got a lot of their inspiration. And I don't see nowadays why you can't do that? You can't get away with writing little movies.


"I understand that in an era of tabloid culture everyone feels a subject matter has to be justified by the songwriter or the singer's motives or personal experience. That's not necessarily as old as the caves. My sexuality has nothing to with it, it's a rule of thumb for songwriting and it means you don't get stale or stagnant as quickly.


"The right I do want to defend is my right to write about absolutely anything."




...and the link is - http://www.playlouder.co.uk/feature/+mika/


Sorry if this is a duplicate :wink2:

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that interview was really fab, Simon Cowell is the Tescos of the 'music' industry.


How very true. I never looked at him like that before.

Great article by the way:thumb_yello:


lv, andi xxx

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  • 1 year later...
I love coming across all this stuff that I've never seen before. Interesting article, lots of stuff I've heard many times, but still has snippets that are new to me...


And for me, it has been a long time between reads, so -


thanks Chickadee!:thumb_yello:

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