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Music Interview

Mika interview: 'I've made a bold, crazy album'

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Mika in 'Celebrate' music video.

He's been absent from UK shores for the last couple of years, but far be it from Mika to take it easy in between playing shows across the globe.

Instead, he's been beavering away on his third studio opus The Origin Of Love, the results of which we'll be able to hear next month.

Digital Spy met up with the singer to talk more about the LP, working with Pharrell Williams on his new single 'Celebrate' and the real story behind writing a song for Madonna.

We hear you're not very well at the moment; is everything okay?
"I've been having some problems with my throat but I think I'm over the worst of it now, thanks! It's fine, I'm a complete hypochondriac."

It's been three years since The Boy Who Knew Too Much; what have you been up to apart from recording?
"I've been travelling a lot, relaxing and playing some amazing and strange gigs. I didn't write anything for a year and a half. It felt horrible and I didn't know what to do. I was a bit lost and I'd worked back-to-back on my last two records - stuff that I'd been working on for years. I then toured incessantly, so I ran completely out of steam."

How did you get yourself back into it?
"I started growing up! I got my own place and settled down a bit. A lot of stuff happened in my personal life - something happened to my sister - and shortly after I felt ready. I booked a ticket to Montreal, found a hotel on the way out of the airport, had two shots of whiskey and wrote the first good song I'd written in over two years - the title track of my new album The Origin Of Love. It was then that I decided to leave my sister, family and past relationships behind."

That sounds intense...
"It was, but also great, because I finally had something to say again. Believe me, I was getting calls whenever RedOne was in town!"

So how good is The Origin Of Love?
"Hopefully very good! I had a much more liberal approach with this record. For my last album I had the idea that everything had to come from me only - I sat behind a piano for months - but this time I allowed more people in. There was one person who wouldn't work with me at first and I hounded her until she did. I approached this record like it was the last thing I was ever going to make."

Doesn't that pile the pressure on you a bit?
"It does in a way, but it's my Arab Sufi mentality. I think there's a lot to be said for that in music. You never know which gig is going to be your last."

Mika


Your new single 'Celebrate' definitely gives off that vibe...
"This single was me realising that I was happy again. I was that feeling that, f**king hell, I can make this strange music that no-one else is allowed to make! I can still envisage Nick [Littlemore] in the corner high as a kite and Ben Garrett who I found on the internet making beats in the corner. It was crazy."

And Pharrell Williams, which no-one could have predicted...
"It just worked. I lead the charge but there was no sense of hierarchy. The aim was just to make interesting music with charm and if it goes beyond that, then great. He was very clever and quick - he called me a scientist though which couldn't be further from the truth!"

Can you clear up this Madonna business? Did you write 'Gang Bang' on her latest album?
"There were a lot of people involved in that record. I wouldn't say I wrote the song, but I definitely wrote part of it. The result is actually a very cool colliding of lots of separate people and I love that chaotic nature about it. I like the song, I just wish all of them on her album was like that. It was cut with the attitude of a Grace Jones record - you didn't know where that song was going. That's what I love about it."

Huge worldwide stars are all holding writing camps these days. Would you ever contribute?
"I know that on Rihanna's albums all my friends write like maniacs for them, but they always get turned down. She's a superstar though, what do you expect? It's a dangerous thing to get involved with which is why I don't do it much. I'm happy to be on the new Empire of the Sun record though, it's going to be a brilliant record."

You make left-field pop, which generally has a harder time finding success in the charts. Does that bother you?
"The album draws from a rich pool of music that I love - Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees and a whole encyclopaedia of pop. I think that represents me well; my sound was born out of an accident - I'm not from a sound or scene. It means you have a responsibility to make a bold record, which is what I think I've done this time!"

Mika's new single 'Celebrate' is out September 30. The album, The Origin Of Love, follows on October 8. Watch the 'Celebrate' video below:

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