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Mika's life in motion

By SIMON COSYNS

February 02, 2007

 

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No time for lying around ... tousle-haired dandy Mika is a man in demand

 

 

MIKA - Life in Cartoon Motion

Rating - 4

 

SO Mika, how does it feel to be No1 with Grace Kelly?

 

“Slightly surreal!â€Â

 

How has your life changed?

 

“It’s all gone Willy Wonka!â€Â

 

How would you sum up your sound and style?

 

“Psychobabble, schizophrenic, hyper-pop!â€Â

 

To say that Mika is excited about the success of his all-conquering new single is putting it mildy.

 

But, as SFTW discovered this week, the tousle-haired dandy has also got his feet firmly on the ground.

 

“I would be lying if I didn’t say it feels equally scary and amazing,†he says. “Although it looks like things have happened quite quickly, they’ve been in the works a long time.

 

“I’ve got a lot of music to deliver over the coming months and that’s what I am looking forward to. Playing the album live through the rest of the year hopefully means there’ll be a few more people along for the ride.â€Â

 

“It was weird when I found out I was No 1. It was like an unreal dream.â€Â

 

Grace Kelly is an insanely infectious song that fits into a grand glam-pop tradition, a little bit Freddie (Mercury), a little bit Scissors, a little bit Elton.

 

0,,2007050925,00.jpg

Mika ... life has gone 'Willy Wonka'

 

“It’s funny because it’s a song I wrote on my piano at home in about 15 minutes and its still so weird and exciting to hear it on the radio let alone having other people buy it! It’s all got quite silly so I’m just going with it and having fun.â€Â

 

Ultimately, the song the work of a singular, refreshing new talent, justifying “saviour of pop†claims. Furthermore, his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion (out Monday) is loaded with future hits.

 

There’s been much talk of the 23-year-old’s upbringing, first in Lebanon, then Paris, then London, but SFTW set out to get to the heart of his music.

 

What, I wondered, did he make of the comparisons with those greats of popular music?

 

“Actually, Harry Nilsson is my musical hero. I’m completely obsessed with his early work. Its often overlooked but its absolutely amazing, whimsical, funny, dark, childish yet fully grown up. He’s definitely an inspiration.â€Â

 

As for being mentioned in the same breath as icons like Mercury, he says: “When you come from nowhere, people have to compare you to something and I’m just glad I’m being compared to people I really like.

 

“I aspire to the musicianship of a band like Queen, to be compared to Freddie Mercury in any way is a huge compliment. I’ve seen some similarities but I think its still early to make definitive comparisons.â€Â

 

It all seems light years from the day Mika was rejected by Simon Cowell who even told him to stop writing. He has few regrets though:

 

“You really have to give him proper respect for what he’s been able to achieve. He’s a pop marketing genius.

 

“But would he have been the right person to make the record with me? Absolutely not! And I’m thankful I never had the opportunity.â€Â

 

Another key aspect of the Mika package is the stunning visuals on his singles and album and on the official website.

 

He says: “I developed it very early on with my sister, pen name DaWack. I was inspired by artists who create their own visual world like Bowie and Prince. Back then album artwork was so important.

 

“These days you pick out albums and you can tell the artwork was designed to a formula  nothing to do with the musicians, just a means of packaging.

 

“I didn’t want it to be about packaging. I wanted it to be very much part of a whole visual world completely linked to the music.â€Â

 

So was it Mika’s mission to shake the pop world up a bit? “My only mission is to have the freedom to make the records – I have no mission in terms of what other people are doing.

 

"The only thing I didn’t want to be when I started was another singer-songwriter looking at his shoes making nice music for dinner parties.â€Â

 

Here, in his words, Mika guides us through the ten tracks of Life In Cartoon Motion.

 

Grace Kelly

 

I wrote this song as a little sticky to the music industry a couple of years back.

 

I was working with a big music company in London that wanted to mould me into what they felt would turn me into a commercial success, which was Craig David at the time.

 

They told me I needed to make a record more like what everyone expected pop records to be  and be like Craig David.

 

I knew that would lead to complete disaster. So I came back home and I wrote Grace Kelly that night. From that point on, I made a decision to write in the way I wanted to and not how someone else told me to.

 

Lollipop

 

This was a message to my little sister, telling her not to have sex too soon  because it would mean something very different to guys than it would to her  and so be very careful.

 

But I had a lot of fun getting my message across in the melody and lyric!

 

The little girl is my cousin, one of the most hilarious girls I have ever met. So when the opportunity came up to use a child’s voice in Lollipop she was the only person I had in mind.

 

I put her up in a snazzy Hollywood hotel and she was completely spoilt for about four days, like a true star.

 

0,,2007041740,00.jpg

Grace Kelly ... written in 15 minutes

 

My Interpretation

 

This is a break-up song. It’s hard to write this sort of song. They often sound quite fake or trite so I guess I’ve Mika’ed it up so it still sounds like a good song with a darker lyric.

 

Love Today

 

I was really happy when I wrote this and when I’m in that kind of mood I always hope everyone else feels the same way.

 

Everybody is looking for the same thing  to love someone and be loved back. Or just to get laid. It all depends on how you look for it.

 

Love Today captures that, the euphoric feeling you get when those things go right.

 

Relax (Take it Easy)

 

I always wanted to write a dance song that wasn’t a really full dance track, that felt organic. So when I came into producing Relax I made sure that most of the sounds we used were actually made by real instruments.

 

We used some great session musicians who had worked with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.

 

And we picked up the strangest pedal combinations to get all these weird sounds.

 

It’s really effective . . . you can’t tell if it’s a full dance track or really laid-back. It feels a bit weird electronically.

 

The organic-ness gives a more classic field to it. So it was one of the harder tracks for me to produce, but also the most rewarding.

 

THE SUN

 

Continued.....

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Contintuation...

 

Any Other World

 

There is a little spoken introduction that many people may miss.

 

It’s a family friend of mine who lost her eye during the war in Lebanon and I realised in everyone’s life their comes one point  or several points  where something happens and you have to completely change the way you have lived your life because of one event.

 

And it really makes you readjust and rethink and rejudge parts of your life all over again.

 

That happens to some people in a dramatic way like Rafa who lost both her eye and her husband within six months. Or it can be in a much quieter way like when you are 22-years-old and you finally leave university after being in education all your life or when you lose your job.

 

0,,2007040703,00.jpg

Singer ... obsessed with Harry Nilsson

 

I wanted to put that in the song, because when you’re 68 or 14, it’s still the same feeling and it’s still just as hard.

 

I wanted to try to capture that quite difficult period that people have to go through at least once in their life.

 

Billy Brown

 

I just thought it was a brilliant story to put into a pop song  the idea of a man leaving his wife for another man. I really don’t know why it hasn’t been done before.

 

When you’re writing songs, you always want to play with intrigue and you always want to pull certain strings. The point of writing pop music is that, in a way, you can write about anything.

 

And it’s amazing how many younger listeners really love it and really identify with this little character Billy Brown, this cartoon character.

 

A few of my cousins are all around 12 to 15 years old. This is their favourite song. They find it funny and sweet.

 

Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)

 

I was flying to Los Angeles and I can never sleep because I hate flying so much.

 

So I was watching trashy television, it was two o’clock in the morning, a Victoria Wood documentary on Channel 4.

 

It was about fat people in the United States and she visited a club called the The Butterfly Lounge, which was the first place of its kind, a club for larger women to hang out in.

 

Skinny women were not being allowed in. The women were amazing and I absolutely felt as if I had to write about them.

 

I muted the television and wrote it straight away.

 

I never expected it on the album, but a few weeks later we recorded it and it’s now there.

 

So it is one of my favourite tracks and brilliant to play live. Everyone sings along!

 

Stuck in the Middle

 

(Mika wanted the story of this song kept a secret but here is SFTW’s view).

 

With its honky-tonk piano and bouncy tune, perhaps the nearest song on the album to the work of Mika’s hero Harry Nilsson.

 

Clearly the lyrics are very personal to the singer, stuck in the middle of something turbulent but, for the listener, open to interpretation.

 

Happy Ending

 

It’s about a few things. In a way, it’s a kind of sad break-up song like My Interpretation.

 

But, at the same time, it’s about a lot of other things.

 

I’ll never forget when I was actually recording this song in Los Angeles, I would take this drive from where I was staying to the studio  which wasn’t in the city  and the amount of homeless people I saw on the way was absolutely shocking.

 

Those horrible images of homelessness that I would see every morning really connected with that song.

 

So it just comes to show you that a bright song in a certain mindset had a meaning that really evolves and changes as time goes by.

 

I think that it is very important that other listeners find their own meaning to songs.

 

So many people are very openly suggestive to the point of being abstract. It’s the most powerful thing when that becomes the song.

 

ENDS.

 

CW.

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It's what people do that counts. Mika's music is honest, fun and it clearly shows off his enormous talent. I love it. Hopefully get him to sign a copy of his album monday. I heard he was supoorting Take That maybe on tour.... It should be the other way round. Mika is in a class of his own for sure. Appreciate the interview loads. Cheers :thumb_yello:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey thanks so much - this is a brilliant link & I wondered what the meanings of the songs were as Mika said he writes as a 'remedy' to himself.

Totally identify with his dislike of flying - I went to Oz last year & hardly slept a wink!

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By SIMON COSYNS

February 02, 2007

MIKA - Life in Cartoon Motion

SO Mika, how does it feel to be No1 with Grace Kelly?

“Slightly surreal!â€Â

How has your life changed?

“It’s all gone Willy Wonka!â€Â

How would you sum up your sound and style?

“Psychobabble, schizophrenic, hyper-pop!â€Â

To say that Mika is excited about the success of his all-conquering new single is putting it mildy.

But, as SFTW discovered this week, the tousle-haired dandy has also got his feet firmly on the ground.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say it feels equally scary and amazing,†he says. “Although it looks like things have happened quite quickly, they’ve been in the works a long time.

“I’ve got a lot of music to deliver over the coming months and that’s what I am looking forward to. Playing the album live through the rest of the year hopefully means there’ll be a few more people along for the ride.â€Â

“It was weird when I found out I was No 1. It was like an unreal dream.â€Â

Grace Kelly is an insanely infectious song that fits into a grand glam-pop tradition, a little bit Freddie (Mercury), a little bit Scissors, a little bit Elton.

Mika ... life has gone 'Willy Wonka'

“It’s funny because it’s a song I wrote on my piano at home in about 15 minutes and its still so weird and exciting to hear it on the radio let alone having other people buy it! It’s all got quite silly so I’m just going with it and having fun.â€Â

Ultimately, the song the work of a singular, refreshing new talent, justifying “saviour of pop†claims. Furthermore, his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion (out Monday) is loaded with future hits.

There’s been much talk of the 23-year-old’s upbringing, first in Lebanon, then Paris, then London, but SFTW set out to get to the heart of his music.

What, I wondered, did he make of the comparisons with those greats of popular music?

“Actually, Harry Nilsson is my musical hero. I’m completely obsessed with his early work. Its often overlooked but its absolutely amazing, whimsical, funny, dark, childish yet fully grown up. He’s definitely an inspiration.â€Â

As for being mentioned in the same breath as icons like Mercury, he says: “When you come from nowhere, people have to compare you to something and I’m just glad I’m being compared to people I really like.

“I aspire to the musicianship of a band like Queen, to be compared to Freddie Mercury in any way is a huge compliment. I’ve seen some similarities but I think its still early to make definitive comparisons.â€Â

It all seems light years from the day Mika was rejected by Simon Cowell who even told him to stop writing. He has few regrets though:

“You really have to give him proper respect for what he’s been able to achieve. He’s a pop marketing genius.

“But would he have been the right person to make the record with me? Absolutely not! And I’m thankful I never had the opportunity.â€Â

Another key aspect of the Mika package is the stunning visuals on his singles and album and on the official website.

Album ... Life in Cartoon Motion

He says: “I developed it very early on with my sister, pen name DaWack. I was inspired by artists who create their own visual world like Bowie and Prince. Back then album artwork was so important.

“These days you pick out albums and you can tell the artwork was designed to a formula  nothing to do with the musicians, just a means of packaging.

“I didn’t want it to be about packaging. I wanted it to be very much part of a whole visual world completely linked to the music.â€Â

So was it Mika’s mission to shake the pop world up a bit? “My only mission is to have the freedom to make the records – I have no mission in terms of what other people are doing.

"The only thing I didn’t want to be when I started was another singer-songwriter looking at his shoes making nice music for dinner parties.â€Â

Here, in his words, Mika guides us through the ten tracks of Life In Cartoon Motion.

Grace Kelly

I wrote this song as a little sticky to the music industry a couple of years back.

I was working with a big music company in London that wanted to mould me into what they felt would turn me into a commercial success, which was Craig David at the time.

They told me I needed to make a record more like what everyone expected pop records to be  and be like Craig David.

I knew that would lead to complete disaster. So I came back home and I wrote Grace Kelly that night. From that point on, I made a decision to write in the way I wanted to and not how someone else told me to.

Lollipop

This was a message to my little sister, telling her not to have sex too soon  because it would mean something very different to guys than it would to her  and so be very careful.

But I had a lot of fun getting my message across in the melody and lyric!

The little girl is my cousin, one of the most hilarious girls I have ever met. So when the opportunity came up to use a child’s voice in Lollipop she was the only person I had in mind.

I put her up in a snazzy Hollywood hotel and she was completely spoilt for about four days, like a true star.

Grace Kelly ... written in 15 minutes

My Interpretation

This is a break-up song. It’s hard to write this sort of song. They often sound quite fake or trite so I guess I’ve Mika’ed it up so it still sounds like a good song with a darker lyric.

Love Today

I was really happy when I wrote this and when I’m in that kind of mood I always hope everyone else feels the same way.

Everybody is looking for the same thing  to love someone and be loved back. Or just to get laid. It all depends on how you look for it.

Love Today captures that, the euphoric feeling you get when those things go right.

Relax (Take it Easy)

I always wanted to write a dance song that wasn’t a really full dance track, that felt organic. So when I came into producing Relax I made sure that most of the sounds we used were actually made by real instruments.

We used some great session musicians who had worked with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.

And we picked up the strangest pedal combinations to get all these weird sounds.

It’s really effective . . . you can’t tell if it’s a full dance track or really laid-back. It feels a bit weird electronically.

The organic-ness gives a more classic field to it. So it was one of the harder tracks for me to produce, but also the most rewarding.

Any Other World

There is a little spoken introduction that many people may miss.

It’s a family friend of mine who lost her eye during the war in Lebanon and I realised in everyone’s life their comes one point  or several points  where something happens and you have to completely change the way you have lived your life because of one event.

And it really makes you readjust and rethink and rejudge parts of your life all over again.

That happens to some people in a dramatic way like Rafa who lost both her eye and her husband within six months. Or it can be in a much quieter way like when you are 22-years-old and you finally leave university after being in education all your life or when you lose your job.

Singer ... obsessed with Harry Nilsson

I wanted to put that in the song, because when you’re 68 or 14, it’s still the same feeling and it’s still just as hard.

I wanted to try to capture that quite difficult period that people have to go through at least once in their life.

Billy Brown

I just thought it was a brilliant story to put into a pop song  the idea of a man leaving his wife for another man. I really don’t know why it hasn’t been done before.

When you’re writing songs, you always want to play with intrigue and you always want to pull certain strings. The point of writing pop music is that, in a way, you can write about anything.

And it’s amazing how many younger listeners really love it and really identify with this little character Billy Brown, this cartoon character.

A few of my cousins are all around 12 to 15 years old. This is their favourite song. They find it funny and sweet.

Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)

I was flying to Los Angeles and I can never sleep because I hate flying so much.

So I was watching trashy television, it was two o’clock in the morning, a Victoria Wood documentary on Channel 4.

It was about fat people in the United States and she visited a club called the The Butterfly Lounge, which was the first place of its kind, a club for larger women to hang out in.

Skinny women were not being allowed in. The women were amazing and I absolutely felt as if I had to write about them.

I muted the television and wrote it straight away.

I never expected it on the album, but a few weeks later we recorded it and it’s now there.

So it is one of my favourite tracks and brilliant to play live. Everyone sings along!

Stuck in the Middle

(Mika wanted the story of this song kept a secret but here is SFTW’s view).

With its honky-tonk piano and bouncy tune, perhaps the nearest song on the album to the work of Mika’s hero Harry Nilsson.

Clearly the lyrics are very personal to the singer, stuck in the middle of something turbulent but, for the listener, open to interpretation.

Happy Ending

It’s about a few things. In a way, it’s a kind of sad break-up song like My Interpretation.

But, at the same time, it’s about a lot of other things.

I’ll never forget when I was actually recording this song in Los Angeles, I would take this drive from where I was staying to the studio  which wasn’t in the city  and the amount of homeless people I saw on the way was absolutely shocking.

Those horrible images of homelessness that I would see every morning really connected with that song.

So it just comes to show you that a bright song in a certain mindset had a meaning that really evolves and changes as time goes by.

I think that it is very important that other listeners find their own meaning to songs.

So many people are very openly suggestive to the point of being abstract. It’s the most powerful thing when that becomes the song.

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I am so curious what the "stuck in the middle" is about. It's not in the article, also. Any ideas?

 

For me it's about breaking lose from what you are "supposed to be" and how tough that is when you hurt people you love because you can't or won't change who you are just to fit into the plans they had for you :mf_rosetinted:

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“Actually, Harry Nilsson is my musical hero. I’m completely obsessed with his early work. Its often overlooked but its absolutely amazing, whimsical, funny, dark, childish yet fully grown up. He’s definitely an inspiration.â€Â

 

Ah, the boy certainly has a way with words - I love this description, so true. Especially the 'childish yet fully grown up' part. Reckon it's a very good sign that he seems to speak with as much if not more enthusiasm about other people's music as he does about creating his own.

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I agree with Kata. It is about having your beliefs challenged by someone else who is important to you, or else you challenging their views(like when a son grows up..) Learned to love you , also learned to grow...I think there must be so many intepretations for that song...

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I am so curious what the "stuck in the middle" is about. It's not in the article, also. Any ideas?

 

well i was listnin 2 the lyrics and i thoght 'stuck in the middle' - is he the middle child? i know he has 1 older + 1 younger sister + he says he has 4 brothers + sisters

so maybe its about being the middle child and his parents not noticing him as much as the others?

i dunno its onli a guess + everytime i listen to it it seems more + more likely that, that is the case...

and maybe thats why he didnt want to tell the newspaper...

 

(my fave bit of that article was when he said his life had gone 'all willy wonka' - that really made me lol!!!)

 

(its ok hotdlp! lol) :thumb_yello:

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well i was listnin 2 the lyrics and i thoght 'stuck in the middle' - is he the middle child? i know he has 1 older + 1 younger sister + he says he has 4 brothers + sisters

so maybe its about being the middle child and his parents not noticing him as much as the others?

i dunno its onli a guess + everytime i listen to it it seems more + more likely that, that is the case...

and maybe thats why he didnt want to tell the newspaper...

 

 

:thumb_yello: This sounds convincing. I'm not sure if he's a middle child, but what you wrote makes sence.

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:thumb_yello: This sounds convincing. I'm not sure if he's a middle child, but what you wrote makes sence.

 

I think he has 2 brothers cos he says brothers nt just brother... he mite hav 1 older + 1 younger like he has 1 older + 1 younger sister and it would make sense... it was jus an idea!!!

 

thnx for your opinion :thumb_yello: :thumb_yello: :thumb_yello:

xxx

 

(I kno he has 1 older sister because she helped him design the artwork on his album etc...

and he has younger sis cos in the interview!) xxx

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