Mika male (it’s a pun they use to do in Italy on Mika’s name. The original Italian saying is spelled “Mica male” , which means “not bad at all”)
The anglo-lebanese pop star probably used to say this magical statement every time he discovers a new talent, either musical (he will be a judge again in X Factor in September) or artistic, as he now tracks down the more creative people even for Swatch.
When he was a child he was dyslexic, he can write only on a pc, he can’t read watches (even though he designed one for Swatch) yet he’s very talented for sure. He has such a huge amount of across-the-board talent that he’s used to spot it immediately, so that he’s a good talent scout, besides being a pop star. He will be back as a X Factor judge in September, in France he made The Voice Tv ratings peak and we met him along with his sister Yasmine in Trieste, where he was a judge of ITS (International Talent Support), a contest that rewards new creative talents in the fashion Olympus. He has no doubts about talent: “It means to be able to turn energy in something tangible, to show everyday life through a different filter. Sole ideas per se are useless, you need something that justifies their realization.”
It’s not always that easy.
You need language, intellect, history and planning in order to materialize an idea.
How many guys do have these skills?
When judging a talent, you wonder how much he’s whole, how much it’s honest, how much is educated or how much he’s not, and you wonder how he can turn into a product without losing any part of his identity. It’s a really difficult puzzle.
You made it though. Not just when it comes to music: your first watch, Kukulakuku by Swatch, broke the sales record.
Swatch is like that sort of colourful maze for children that you can find in Mac Donald’s. You only can jump in, then 300 000 balls overlay you and you say “Fuck!”
Your only chance is to keep moving….
Indeed. The artistic work that me and my sister Yasmine did with the watches influenced my latest single’s cover and I think it will affect my next album’s one as well. Which will influence the next work we’ll do for Swatch: things blend, it’s the way it works, you can’t avoid that.
It looks like you are enjoying to act like stylists
We are working on jewels, Swatch trusts us on that. We asked our sister Zuleika (who is a jewelery designer and just graduated at the prestigious Central Saint Martins of London), but she told us to fuck off: “Sorry, I struggled so much and now you get it easy?!!” So we replied: “Fine, then we won’t do a high jewelery object, but something which has some personality.
We are no designers, we like to tell stories and we use objects or illustrations to do it.
What did you use?
A pendant. When you’ll see it, you’ll understand everything. Yours is beautiful, by the way. (he looks at it, grabs it and gently play a little with it)
It’s by Reminescence.
Such a demanding name! We were talking about reminescence a while ago, referring to Lucid Dream (the topic of 2014 ITS contest): it’s encouraging that someone still adresses to young people when it comes to dreams.
Yasmine disrupts him: You are just beating around the bush / turning the phrase. The dream of all the guys we met is to finally get their idea achieved.
He presses her: She says that cause she’s an illustrator and whenever her works don’t end up on a book… I can talk thanks to the perks I get from the popularity which comes out of music, tv, internet. The inner quality of things charmes me. But she always complains and says: ” You can’t eat that”. All kidding aside, the Swatch award is important, not just because its value, but also because it provides them with a real experience in a work context. Nowadays this is fundamental for young people.
Do you dream often?
My sister dreams by night and uses her dreams to problem solve. I daydream instead. Or I dream the other way round: when I think that something can work, it will be a disaster. On the contrary, when I think it’s bad, it will work out perfectly. She dreams in a neat way, I do it in the messy way.
Does to daydream mean to dream in a lucid way?
I think that the idea of a lucid dream doesn’t refer to the world of dreams, but to a very much self aware creative process, the discipline which turns art and talent into something concrete.
Do you like fashion?
For us all (Mika has one brother and three sisters)fashion means threads. All we did as children was to take them off from our soles, our mother used to sew and the kitchen was her atelier. Not to mention the pins on the floor, those were our terror. I suppose that great photographers consider it as an artistic issue, but fashion is a practical thing to us, something physical, something Valentino tailors talk about when they argue on how to pin some organza. We aren’t interested in collections, but in seams quality and in details.
(Source: Goia magazine, July 2014)
Mika, the famous Anglo-Lebanese artist and singer, also known in Italy for being an X Factor judge, arrived in Trieste on Friday for the ITS 2014 edition. Along with his sister Yasmine he will have the role of judge in the ITS artwork section, which is sponsored by Swatch.
In the preceding days you got the feeling that a star was about to arrive, someone who would have been unapproachable and heavily guarded for security and privacy reasons. This sensation was far from reality though. Mika was likeable, extroverted and very kind with everyone. He never dodged the chats and photos with insiders and fans. Elegant and friendly, he speaks a flawless Italian now. “We’ve done many interviews with people from Hong Kong, Japan, America. Finally I am able to speak a little Italian with a girl from Trieste.”
What are your first impressions of Trieste?
“I don’t understand why no one told me about this city before! It’s a very weird thing. It’s been kept a beautiful secret. It’s like Vienna and Budapest in their golden eras. It’s architecturally incredible. It’s by the sea, and in Italy… a combination of beautiful and intriguing elements. I think people don’t realize how beautiful this town is. I like Vienna very much and this tranquil architecture. I’ve never seen a town like this. I’ve already fallen in love with it. There’s some poetry here.
Do you know that Joyce fell in love with it like you did?
“Of course! And I imagine how it was romantic when he was here, with all those sailors, ships and the harbour. “
And did you already know of ITS?
“I heard about it and I was very curious to see the idea behind it. It’s very honest, focused on the purpose of valuing artists without too much noise or consideration of trends. They want to employ the artists in the creative industry, get them to do real work. Usually there is a lot of talk at these events but not much that’s concrete. Here the judges are professional and take their role seriously. From the very first day we argued for hours. There’s quality and rigor in the decisions.”
You may have noticed some differences between this event and the Milanese ones….
“Here everything is focused on the artwork – on the drawings and not on the parties! There isn’t much of a frivolous mood you can immediately tell that. There’s a more pondering, calm atmosphere. There is room enough to think. It’s possible to bring together different kinds of creativity. This is the step before industry, before it takes control. In Milan creative artists are already part of the system. Not that I don’t like the fashion week in Milan. Milan Fair is one of the best in the world.
Will the partnership with Swatch continue?
“Yes, we’ll do something else together. It’s a bit complicated though, cause Yasmine and I would want to do everything within our family. Our brother is studying architecture in London and my other sister finished her studies in jewellery design, so that the four of us will work together. And we don’t want to rush. The second project with Swatch will be the creation of a jewel, a pendant. I already created a new character who will be the star of this project. We start from stories, from illustrations”.
And what about time for music?
“That’s my priority, I want to 100% commit to it from now until October.”
While waiting for the new album, you released a single, “Boum Boum Boum”, and the relative videoclip, which is very western style, like Sergio Leone used to do.
“The wonderful thing is that we shot it on “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” set. My label gave to me a poor budget. But I still wanted to do something beautiful. So I went to Swatch and Diadora with my manager in order to ask for help. To work with brands isn’t a filthy job, on the contrary it offers many chances to music which otherwise wouldn’t have enough money those days.”
(Source Il Piccolo Newspaper, original article available here)
Click on the image to go to the gallery.
Exciting news from Mika’s Facebook page!
Who’s excited for the full #BoumBoumBoum video?
Only the weekend to wait, we’ll post it up live on Monday morning, 10am GMT so check back then!
Mika and his sister Yasmine Penniman will next weekend have the honour of taking part in a judging panel at “International Talent Support,” a large design and creativity event focused on promoting new talent across the art and design worlds in Trieste, Italy. The ITS ARTWORK part of the event is sponsored by Swatch and as a long time collaborator with the brand, Mika and his design partner Yasmine have been asked to lend their expertise to this incredible creative platform.
Each finalist will be asked to interpret the iconic Swiss brand, telling a story of their own vision of the Swatch world using unlimited media, as Mika did last year in his project for the brand. The lucky winner will get the chance to work with the Swatch Creative Lab on the future designs of the brand. Other judges across the panels include Consuelo Castiglioni (Marni), Nick Knight, Nicola Formichetti, Nicholas Kirkwood, Manish Arora, Olivier Saillard, Carla Sozzani, Floriane de Saint Pierre and Susie Bubble. Over 1200 from 80 countries were submitted in the first rounds, so the level of talent in the final will undoubtedly be extremely high.
Added pictures of Mika arriving at the Chanson de la L’annee show. Click on the image to go to the gallery.
BIG NEWS!!!! We and L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal are happy to announce a THIRD concert of Mika & the OSM, on Thursday, February 12 2015! Due to popular demand, we have added an extra date and even more fan tickets!
Led by Simon Leclerc, conductor and orchestrator, this concert is in addition to the performances on February 10 and 11, at 8pm.
Photos of Mika at NRJ radio have been added to the gallery. Click on the image to view the album.
Yesterday Mika was very busy touring radio and tv stations in order to promote his new single Boum Boum Boum (click here to listen to it and get original and English lyrics).
We’ve collected all he said about his new song and album.
ABOUT THE SONG:
How it was created: Mika and Doriand were having dinner in a posh restaurant (the Stella) on the 16th avenue in Paris. They were both tired, they had some wine and while they were eating, Mika looked out of the window, to the right, and saw a guy in the flat in front of them, who was getting undressed. The guy went on and on till he ended up totally naked, admiring himself into the mirror, without any shame. Finally, a girl came and shut the curtains. Mika and Doriand giggled and joked cause this thing broke the posh context and changed the atmosphere. They joked about boum boum boum happening in the fancy 16th avenue, which seemed pretty absurd, funny and joyful in that snazzy context. So they ordered more wine and started to write the song on the tablecloth, everywhere in all directions. They first looked for all the words which rhyme with boum and then added all the places where you can do it. It was a game. But by doing this they also claimed that it’s about tolerance, cause love is the same for everybody, it doesn’t change. The songs was finished just two weeks ago.
What is it about: The songs talks about love, about sex but it is also about politeness, which can be dangerous: it’s ok to be nice, but to play nice just in order to be a kind person, that scares him. He’s happy about it being his first single of the new album as this song is joyful and talks about tolerance and that love doesn’t feel ashamed ( as he says in another song of his next album). The song is about love, it does fit to everybody, it’s not a simple reaction to the argue on gay love that’s been rising lately. The song wasn’t written with the purpose to talk sex and love in a political way, but as it comes from Mika, it’s very easy to connect this song to him, and to connect it to political engagement on the topic. He’s happy it can be related to it though, cause he already commited to quite a lot of causes and actions to make it legal.
How it was realized: He picked a friend of his (Skyler Stonestreet from Las Vegas) to sing as a background voice cause he liked the idea of an american accent. Skyler doesn’t know French and went “Boum Boum Boum, even I can get what it means”. This is why the first line of the song. When recording the voices in Los Angeles he used the acoustic of different rooms. He has recorded bits in the bathroom and, apparently, in the toilets and the living room. The song sound is a kind of mashup between french, spanish, arabic music as Fairouz used to do in the 60ies. He thinks it’s libanese vintage.
About the cover: Mika and his sister Yasmine did the cover together, in their kitchen. She lives in NY but they used to work at his family’s place. The cover pictures this world he created long time ago along with Yasmine, it’s a colourful, surrealist universe where only crazy people can live. Its purpose is to get Mika to detach himself from the ordinary and daily world in order to be able to talk about everything, it helps tolerance. He doesn’t want this world to be childish, he wants it to be Tintin like, as children can love what’s complicated. He wanted his face to appear on the rocky mountain in order to make fun of himself.
ABOUT THE VIDEO CLIP:
Mika is recording the video clip right now in Spain. He says that at the beginning he’s a soldier in the Napoleon army, having a woman he adores, a “femme fatale”. He dies, maybe because of her, it’s not that clear, but then he gets reincarnated in Lawrence from Saudi Arabia and he falls in love with a belly dancer and she kills him. He’s James Bond, and a cowboy as well. He said that he had to ask for some favors and for friends’ help in order to be able to do it, cause the budget wasn’t easy to cover. It’s beautiful, funny, very cinema-like. He was scared to do it, and he’s not interested in doing cinema, but then he decided to really put all himself into it. “This clip will be crazy”.
ABOUT THE ALBUM:
The new album will be in English, but there will be three French songs as regular tracks (not as bonus tracks) since they are a part of his identity. It will totally be a Mika album, sticking to his own way of being. Greg Wells is working on it, and so are some of Mika’s friends (eg as a background voices) but there are no real featurings or collaborations. Century Man and Ma Jeunesse aren’t on the album short list at the moment. The album was written mostly in LA and a bit in London, he locked himself up in a house among the hills for two months and got out just 4 times. He had a garden but didn’t care, he only wanted to find again a spirit with which since he wakes up till he goes to bed, it only matters to him to write songs and record them. This totally free himself.