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"Kelly's Hero" Irish Times. Dublin: Mar 9, 2007. pg. 4


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(Copyright © 2007 The Irish Times)

 

Don't stop him now. It's taken Mika eight years to reach his pop peak, conquering the charts with his quirkily refreshing single Grace Kelly. So what's next, asks Tony Clayton-Lea

 

ANYONE suspecting that Mika Penniman is merely flavour of the month would do well to note that the tall, skinny man from a moneyed, well-travelled family (albeit one not without its share of trauma - his father was kidnapped during Mika's early teenage years) has the ammunition to shoot back at his critics.

 

Sitting backstage in Dublin's Spirit venue last week, an hour or so prior to making his live debut in Ireland, Mika is effervescent, enthusiastic and persuasive. The perception of many is that Mika's success is instant, despite the fact that he has been performing from the age of 12 (admittedly in the rather more rarefied domain of opera). Yet in the way that pop music works, instant success this year could mean a gradual fade into obscurity by 2008. Could this happen to Mika? Yes, but not if he has anything to do with it.

 

"I'm something now that has been 12 years in the making," he says. "Because I've gotten here completely on my own terms in every single way, and because I've approached it for the right reasons - music being the main one. All of this will stand me in good stead. All of this fits intrinsically into who I am as an artist, as a person and as a songwriter. I think my success is more to do with my take on things, and people relating to the way I look at life than just to do with one song. That said, Grace Kelly is a mark of honesty as opposed to just an electronic pop song, faceless or deceptive. That song is my game."

 

Mika says he knew this phase of his life, his career, would go either fantastically well or horrifically badly. There would be nothing in between. "Up to 18 months ago, I had people saying to me they'd support me, they'd turn me into something great, they'd give me financial backing. And for all of this they would tell me to be what they wanted me to be, they would tell me to sing particular types of songs. But I made the decision to be myself and have it go terribly wrong than to be moderately successful, pretending to be someone else and being really unhappy as a result of it. And besides, that would lead to nowhere."

 

All roads, then, lead anywhere but nowhere. If his family background is shrouded in mist, then his sexuality is enveloped by a miasma of conjecture. Mika is surprised that even in 2006/2007, some people are curious about what way he swings.

 

"It's interesting how everyone talks about tolerance, and yet everyone is so desperate to pigeonhole. It almost infuriates them when you won't submit to their categorisation. Call that refusal pro- choice, give it some sort of political name and it immediately irks me again, because what's the point?

 

"I get everything from 'oh, you choose to stay away from your private life in the press because you're afraid of taboos in America and you do that because you want to be successful there'. Now, if I was really worried about that would I put a song called Billy Brown [ about a married man's gay extra-marital affair] on the album, which is now resting on the shelves of Walmart? Would I write songs that say I try to be like Grace Kelly if I'm worried about sexual taboos?

 

"The not wanting to go into the sexuality thing is more about self-preservation and self-respect than it is about anything else. I think there is a lot of pride and honour to be taken from the fact that you don't whore yourself out in every single possible way in order to get a story out of every angle."

 

Is there a fine line, then, between public persona and private life?

 

"There is, and I think I'm going to be able to maintain that. Some people say I'm crazy and idealistic to think that; some people say if I managed to achieve that then I clearly haven't made it, which to me sounds preposterous. But it's about self-respect; a lot of people are able to do it, but they have to be bolshy and self- aware enough to think about it well in advance. You either become tabloidy from the very beginning, or you make a conscious decision and effort not to be. Which is what I have decided.

 

"I don't want people to misunderstand me, however - I think sexualising music is glorious. Putting sex into music is absolutely amazing. . . but politically sexualising music, at least as far as sexuality is concerned, is so boring. It doesn't go anywhere, especially as far as the music and artistry is concerned. It's not what I'm in it for; it's not what my music is about."

 

According to Mika, his music is about how it makes you feel, it's about jacking it into your system, creating a world and dealing with reality.

 

"And it's about making good music, good records. The challenge of that, the reward of it, the hook of the tune down to the feel of the beat when you're playing it live. That's what it's about."

 

Our time is up. Mika is limbering up for the show, mischievously looking forward to seeing a UK music journalist (who has been trailing him for a couple of days) dressing up in a hired monkey costume. If Mika were a Queen song, which one would it be? He giggles like a little boy who has a deep secret he has been hiding for years. He pauses for the first time in 20 minutes. He thinks. He smiles. And then he sings: "Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time."

 

Life in Cartoon Motion is on release. Mika returns to Ireland for the Oxegen Festival, July 7-8

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:thumb_yello: wow, what an interview! Thank you so much for sharing this with us,

 

I have spent a long time over this,

 

it is probably one of the best and most honest and sincere interviews I have ever read, there is so much in this, iy gives an amazing insight into what he is really like, what he wants to achieve and his believes.

 

What an artist, what a person, what a man of values!!!!!!!

 

we don't have many of his kind and thats what I love of him, the whole Mika, the philosophist!!! :thumb_yello:

 

Long rule Mika!!:groupwave:

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