Mika's Second Verse (Same As The First?)

1.27.2008

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

When pop singer Mika, 24, appeared on Out's cover last July [Pop's New Queen], he firmly declared, 'I'm not willing to label myself.' His consistent not-quite no comment continues to ruffle the feathers of out and proud queers -- and, of course, rile up his staunchest defenders.

He recently checked in with Out from London, updating us on his whirlwind year, his most obscure and infamous inspirations, and just exactly what he thinks of the folks who say he's hiding in plain sight.

Out: In 2007, you played at Coachella, won three World Music Awards and were nominated for a Grammy. What was the highlight?
Mika: Being able to pay my bills? [Laughs] No. I'm kidding. Everyone always wants me to say the big stuff, the huge festivals and performances. But it was just being given an insight into how to do things. A profession you've always wanted to do your entire life finally becomes real, and you have to make the most of it.

Are you going to the Grammys?
I don't know. I'm more concerned with my own show the day after in Los Angeles. The nomination is quite an honor -- yet award ceremonies are always a little bit of a meat market, aren't they? I like the nomination more than anything. I think if I was performing it'd be different because I'd have a purpose. We'll see.

What's going to be different about this tour?
Unfortunately, I can't bring the same show all over the States. In L.A. and New York and some of the Canadian shows where we're doing 10,000 seaters, we've got the full show. But because we're playing clubs down to 1,500 people, we can't physically fit [everything] into the venues. For the bigger shows, it is a lot closer to this total gig vision that I've got. We work with an 18-foot puppet, a snow machine, stuff like that. It's fantasy. As long as it's all based around a good set of songs and a good set of performances, it's important to create magic and stretch the world.

How do you describe your ideal vision for a show?
I've been to a lot of arena gigs, and some are very disappointing because they rely too much on a big bunch of screens. There's a disadvantage being 9,000 people away from the performer, and it's that he's quite small. But there is also an advantage to that, because you can create illusions that you never could within a small club, a sense of scale and magic. In the next two years when I'm developing my big shows, especially in Europe and Canada and in Asia, I'm looking forward to creating this virtually delicious show that happens all over at different stages of the arena -- so you never feel like you're far away whether you're in the third row or the 300th row.

Whose big arena shows do you like the best?
I think that the Madonna concerts are really entertaining. It's not like going to a Led Zeppelin gig, but it's still kind of a visual feat. Prince -- he's the master, and that relies mostly on music too, the tightness of the band, the tightness of his performance. And also there's that whole Cirque du Soleil thing, you know? When you see some of those shows, you're literally sitting there scratching your head, wondering how the hell they've managed to create that visual effect.

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