International pop singing sensation Mika recently dropped his sophomore album, “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” the follow up to his platinum-plus-selling debut, “Life in Cartoon Motion.” I recently had the chance to chat with Mika about his new set of material, his BFF Perez Hilton, still not getting played on U.S. radio stations and his latest inspiration, Tim Burton.
Having one album under his belt now, the pop star describes the new set as his adolescence record. “I started to write songs that were talking from a teenage point of view, it’s like a coming of age,” he said. “A second album is a form of adolescence, I guess.”
With so much success on his debut, which earned him a 2008 Best Dance Recording Grammy nomination, Mika says he felt the pressure to measure up. “I was competing creatively against myself, for the first time. It was this realization that I was no longer a kid in my room writing songs,” Mika said.
He also said that he didn’t want to change too much while making the second album, so he stuck with a similar formula. “ I wanted to take things forward, but not divorce myself entirely from what made me,” he explained.
With his first album, Mika created a bright and glittery comic book-esque world with characters drawn from lyrics in his songs. The British native says that he wants to continue to create a world around himself the way filmmaker Burton has. “If I could have a career like his and make it with music, I could die a happy man,” Mika said.
The Beirut-born and London-based performer says he’s a huge fan of Los Angeles. He chose to record and master the album in LA, as he did with the first. “There’s an old school attitude to recording in LA, so much vintage gear and so many old school musicians that are my heroes.”
He’s been pleasantly surprised with the warm reception he’s received in the U.S. since he gets almost no airplay here. He finds his fan-base in LA to be especially enthusiastic and finds their loyalty heart-warming. “My LA crowd is insane, they act ridiculous in the best possible way,” Mika said.
Since “Life in Cartoon Motion,” Mika has garnered some famous fans, including celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who was a champion for him at the same time he was elevating Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse to superstardom. The pair even teamed up in the summer to put on a free show for Mika’s fans, handing out tickets in an ice cream truck, no less. “He liked my music, he’s obsessive about music…and he supports what he likes,” he said. “I wish there were more people like that.”
Like so many other celebrities, Mika has taken a liking to the social networking Web site Twitter. In September, the singer used the popular site to invite hundreds of his fans to join him at a pub in London. “It was like a rave inside and everyone outside was on the street like a music festival on a Monday night,” Mika said. He had such a great time that he says he plans on doing another Twitter-vite in Los Angeles.
Having studied music all over the world, Mika says that it is this exposure that is vastly responsible for the eclectic sound of this record. “Growing up in many places and having that mixed education that I had, it meant that I was exposed to a lot of different types of music,” he said. “I embraced a lot of types of music and let that percolate through my own writing.”
His songwriting and eclectic sounds have even gotten Broadway’s attention. Mika revealed that he might even compose the score to the upcoming musical “The Greatest Showman on Earth” starring Hugh Jackman. “I’ve been approached and it sounds really cool and we’ll see,” he said.
Keeping with tradition, Mika says he wants his fans to feel like they’re walking into another world when they see his show. As his North American tour starts next week he says he has a lot in store this time around. “There will be a mix between a very conceptual theater show with a narrative and down right sweaty club show — that’s the best combination,” he said. As fans will remember, his last tour was full of bright colors, balloons and Mika himself wearing a plush teddy bear outfit.
On The Download’s Five Questions With Mika:
Favorite City To Play Live In: “I’ve never had a bad show in the U.S.A., I’ve never been so rewarded by my fans.”
Biggest Musical Inspiration: “Tim Burton, at the moment.”
Favorite Location to Get Away From It All: “The wine country near Santa Barbara.”
Something That You Want to Try That You’ve Never Tried Before: “Fly a plane.”
Guilty Pleasure: “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers