After several years of absence, the Franco-Anglo-Lebanese singer returns to the stage to present his new album “My Name is Michael Holbrook”, which bears his real name. On the occasion of its release, he returns to the key songs on the album.
Michael Holbrook’s story is Mika’s story. An epic concept album where the singer settles accounts with the entertainment world before going back to basics: him and his family. Today, when the trend is towards streaming and algorithms decide the fate of pop music, Mika goes against the grain by wanting to make “complicated and dense pop”, in his words. On the occasion of the release of his album “My Name is Michael Holbrook”, the singer tells what inspired this album of colorful influences.
For Mika, life at home, with all its pain and joy, can also happen on stage and on the record. “That way I feel like I’m not betraying the public,” she says. The song “Tiny Love”, behind her music worthy of the great songs of Queen -one of her favorite bands- is about her mother. It was she who trained her son to sing and who passed on her passion for music.
I don’t escape real life with my music, but I make it more livable.
Mika remembers the day she started singing: “I was very young when I got kicked out of school. My mom looked at me one day and said ‘ok then go to work’. I asked her what she was going to do and she said ‘you’re going to sing.” Six months later, I started my first job at the Royal Opera House in London, in classical music. I was 8 and only did that until I was 15.”
While the singer was writing the album, his mother underwent major brain surgery. Three weeks later, she placed microphones around her bed to record her voice. When we listen to the last song on the album, it’s his voice that we hear. For the singer, private life and music are unapologetically intertwined. He explains, “In a way, I think these people are honored too late most of the time. And there, because she has a lot of worries, I thought I was going to sing about it and talk about it on stage. In my music, because it is part of my life.
While her mother took the fact that Mika wrote a song about her quite well, it was more difficult for her sister Paloma, who also went through difficult things, to accept it. “She had a very serious accident,” she told RTS. “I didn’t tell her I had written about her until the album came out. She didn’t tell me for a month because she was afraid her private life would spill all over the place. One day, she calls me and she says “But you know, it’s my story!” I answer “yes, but it is my testimony, and they are two different things”. She began to understand.”
>>To see: Mika in an interview at “La Puce à l’Oreille” on 11.22.2019, starting at 5:55 p.m.
The ghost of George Michael hangs over “Jealousy”, a catchy but self-reflective song. Would Mika be jealous of the person he was at the time of his first album “Life in Cartoon Motion” and his string of hits? Not really: “I’m not jealous of the person I was during my first album. I’m jealous of the person I was before all that. The carelessness, the freedom when you write something without thinking about who’s going to consume it.” He wasn’t thinking about what people thought about what he was doing. He was looking to dream multi-colored and find my place.”
I want to find the colors I had at 17, when I wrote my first record.
This carelessness and these colors is what the singer wanted to find with “My Name is Michael Holbrook”. After more than ten years of career, Mika had to question himself to find the passion of his beginnings. He says: “I said to myself ‘ok, I let myself be contaminated by the business, I want to find the pure joy of music’. That’s exactly what I was able to do with this album. It’s from writing that I found my passion for music. music. I also found this speech that I can have with the public, which is like fireworks. There is an urgency of communication.”
Interview: Iris Jimenez/Witold Langlois/Julie Evard
Text and web adaptation: Myriam Semaani
“The Voice” Mika uninhibited
Juried on the French TV show from 2014 to 2019, Mika says “The Voice” allowed him to relax and be more comfortable during his public appearances. “La Voz served me well, because I didn’t pretend to be someone else. I was able to relax on camera,” he says. The singer has also earned a reputation for being kind to the contestants, no matter how well or poorly they sing. Normal for the musician: “You have to remember that if someone comes to a television set to sing in front of people they don’t know and millions of viewers, it’s a crazy gesture. These candidates must be crazy, they could never do it.” You have to respect this madness because madmen are the most important people in life. I like them”.