The Zealous Pop Star Gets Decked Out In Topman And Explains His New Album, The Origin of Love
By Daisy Mostyn
With two hit albums under his belt, and a good seven years at the forefront of British pop music consciousness, singer-songwriter Mika has become something of a household name. And rightly so, especially in this era of factory produced pop where it’s become something of a rarity to find an independently driven, genuinely talented, and classically trained star. Mika is, of course, all of those things. His beginnings lie in classical music and the theatrical nature of his songs and performance style harks back to a more original era of pop, and of a time of extroverted and iconic musicians like Bowie and Freddie Mercury. Meeting him, though, there is no flamboyance or diva-ish attitude, he is softly-spoken, articulate and informed, his continental drawl a faint memory of his Lebanese origins, and his attitude is neither arrogant nor overbearing. He’s also immaculately dressed, with the looks and physique of a model, and when we get him into Topman’s VIP lounge for his shoot, it’s clear he enjoys his time in front of the camera. Mika, it seems, is something of a paradox: both self-reflecting and shy, but also extroverted and theatrical – he really is emblematic of a new thinking man’s pop star. So, in the run up to the release of his new album ‘The Origin of Love’ Topman GENERATION quizzed him about his views on the state of the industry and what it’s like to be an old-school pop star in 2012.
Topman GENERATION: So, first off, this album seems to represent a shift in your style, with a whole host of new collaborators and a new sound. Was this an intentional change of direction?
Mika: Well, yeah, kind of. The thing about making pop music now is that there isn’t any sense of creative community… Most of the time it’s just a group of adults, making music for slightly younger people and selling it. The danger with that is it can become a little too much like a big machine, if you look at the seventies you had pop music that was really artist driven – Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, The Bee Gees – all that stuff stinks of artistry, it’s entirely pop. I think with this album I wanted to find people around the world that had the same attitude, lots of different, cool people.
“Pop music out there is really good; I just wish there were more men doing it”
Topman GENERATION: Pop music is so corporate these days, isn’t it? How do you feel about the state of the industry at the moment?
Mika: Well, in a weird way I think pop music is kind of great at the moment. It’s mostly dominated by women, many of whom don’t write their own music, and there’s not that many men making pop music that aren’t in bands. I just think it’s interesting, it’s cyclical. Pop music out there is really good; I just wish there were more men doing it.
Topman GENERATION: You were classically trained when you were younger. What instigated the transition from classical to pop music?
Mika: Well, I think it was my complete obsession with melody. I am obsessed with bringing melody into everything I do, so that led me to make music myself, to play with this magical thing and come up with it myself. In all honesty I think the reason I went into pop music was because I was dyslexic and I couldn’t sight-read. I wanted to make music but couldn’t read piano sonatas and I couldn’t write complicated symphonic music or even study it, so I decided to concentrate on what I knew I could do, which was melody, and instinctively I fell into more of a pop direction.
Topman GENERATION: Are you tempted by any other areas of music? Rufus Wainwright has just debut his opera, for example, would you ever be tempted to do something like that?
Mika: Yeah, maybe. I’ve been asked, quite seriously, to do that, but I know that if I do it it’s like a multi-year commitment. What I would really love to do someday is make music for film, which is something I’ve always been interested in. I think that would really be a perfect transition.
Topman GENERATION: Tell me about your new album, The Origin of Love. Do you feel more or less pressure now that you are on your third album?
Mika: More in some ways, more artistically, to deliver something that is bold, layered,and colourful. Less in the fact that I’ve gained a lot of freedom and I have found my space.
Topman GENERATION: So what is ‘The Origin of Love’ about?
Mika: Well, the concept is very simple – how do you figure out what love is, how do you go on this crazy journey and deconstruct a love song? It doesn’t sound like traditional love songs, it actually sounds pretty psychotic. I guess, inevitably, in talking about love you end up talking about life, and so it’s kind of a personal diary over my last twelve month period. Yeah, it’s about my life, and life in general. The whole album starts with the song ‘The Origin of Love’ and my mission statement was how do I write the perfect love song? How do I make it as real as possible?
“I kind of hate fashion. I love style, but I hate fashion”
Topman GENERATION: You’ve worked with fashion houses like Christian Louboutin in the past. Are you a fan of fashion?
Mika: I kind of hate fashion. I love style, but I hate fashion. I think they are two very separate things and often they contradict one another. I think style is something that develops against the grain, whereas fashion is something that tries to capitalise on trend. They are two concepts very against each other, and yet they are inseparable.
Topman GENERATION: And what would you say is your style?
Mika: Well, at the moment I’m really obsessed with tailoring. I think all men should be aware that the most transformative thing he can do, as far as his look is concerned, is know the cut of his body. I just think cut is the secret. Print is an easy way to cheat, whereas cut you can’t cheat. Whenever I dress I always try to think ‘will I look like a fashion victim in five years time?’ If you are dressing for yourself and not for trends or fads then you won’t end up just looking like a credit card.
The Origin Of Love will be released October 8.