Yahoo! Music’s ‘Who’s Next?’ features Mika, where the British singer songwriter sat down for an interview to discuss his birth in Lebanon and evacuation to Paris before settling in London, as well as his early introduction in work in the recording industry and how he faced struggles to get signed to a label.
“I was born in Beirut in 1983, and then we were evacuated a year later because of the civil war that was there and I ended up in Paris with a whole kind of transplanted Lebanese community,” Mika said of his upbringing. “Then at the age of nine, we moved over suddenly to London. It was a really weird shift. I had a kind of charmed existence when I was living in Paris and moving over to London was kind of rough. So I had a hard time from the kids, and I was pulled out of school by a very strong willed mother who realized school was probably the worst place for me to be at that time. During that time I started to learn singing with my Russian singing teacher and she whipped me into shape really fast.”
On his early days being employed in music, Mika said, “I got my first job at the age of eleven. It was in the chorus of a Strauss opera. Then I got lots of jobs after that. Everything from really serious contemporary music all around Europe, to singing on jingles on inflight music. There’s nothing more depressing than sitting in the back of a British Airways flight at the age of fifteen when you’re dreaming of being a star and sitting there in the front of a plane on day, and you hear your music, your voice piping through those awful speakers they have on planes. Muzak is bad, when your voice is on it, believe me it’s a lot worse.”
On difficulties landing a record deal with his eclectic sound, Mika said, “Not coming from any scene was very much a barrier. I suppose it was really a barrier when I was apologetic about it, and when I tried to hide the fact that I was not like everybody else. Musically and also my personality and my dress sense and other things. Only until I made that decision to be 100 times myself and to create this space for myself in the industry did it start to come together, and then everyone wanted to sign me.”
Watch the interview (a performance of ‘Grace Kelly’ has since been removed) below.