Mika may have churned out bubblegum hits like “Love Today” and “Popular” in the past, but his new album, “No Place In Heaven” (out this June) is melodious while exploring deeper, darker issues. Mika opens up to us about emerging from complete isolation to share the personal issues that matter the most to him.
“I became afraid of what people think”
It’s been three years since Mika’s last album, "The Origin of Love" and he says for most of that time, he purposely disappeared. “I went into almost complete isolation in my daily life and in my professional choices,” he says.
“I became afraid of what people would think of my work. I isolated myself which was so stupid because I realize now that as soon as you become preoccupied with worrying what people think about protecting yourself, it’s like a creative cancer.”
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On New Year’s Eve, he decided to change that, making a promise to himself that he would say yes to the next offer that came his way, no matter what. He got more than he bargained for when he was asked to be a judge on “The X-Factor” in Italy. But Mika followed through, learning Italian in two months. As a result of that, he landed a deal doing “The Voice” in France.
Reemerging helped him get back to a place of honesty in his music. “I stopped that false protection, which was just getting in the way. When you hear the album, it’s got such a devil’s wink in it and the subjects I deal with are truly hard and very intimate, but when combined with joyful pop melodies, it resonates,” he says.
Daring to be brave
One of those songs is “Last Party,” about Freddie Mercury coping with his HIV positive diagnosis by throwing a three-day long rager in a nightclub. “There’s also a song called ‘Good Guys’ which provokes a lot of questions, but I wrote it to myself,” Mika says. “I [wanted to] dare to be like all the people who inspired me when I was younger and who didn’t think about the consequences, even if it put them in danger.”
Mika recorded the bulk of the album alone in his LA home, which he says helped him get to a place of deep intimacy. “When you’re singing and writing a song, you’re showing more than a full nude striptease. You’re going all out and hiding nothing,” he says. “When something is intimate and it’s very personal, it’s really powerful. People are craving intimacy.”
Mika in concert:
New York City
May 3, 8 p.m.
54 N. 11th St., Brooklyn, 347-223-4732
May 4, 9 p.m.
125 E. 11th St., 212-353-1600
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence