Since his first hit single ‘Relax, Take It Easy’ took the charts by storm a decade ago, British pop star Mika has sold millions of records while scoring a prestigious Grammy nomination. Despite a busy schedule that includes being a recurring judge on The Voice France, he returns to China performing at A8 Music Mansion in Shenzhen (Feb 23) and at Q.S.W. Culture Center in Shanghai (Feb 25-26).
Although he claims to be a terrible dancer, Mika’s live shows are known to be energetic, lively and even ‘spiritual’ affairs. The stage remains a place where he says he is able to break down the “fourth wall” between himself on stage and his audience members.
"When it works, you could be 1,000 people away from the performer, but still feel like it’s just you,” he says. “It softens you, and you forget everything around you.”
Mika’s infectious confidence on stage might seem innate, but in the past he has described himself as an “insular” child. It’s a term that seems a far cry from the animated character we see on stage today.
But he says this characteristic can be an asset in the development of an individual. “Being insular is often connected to being a watcher – being receptive and meditative,” he explains. “Those are all good things, as long as it doesn’t evolve into fear or fear of what people think of you."
"I was a dreamer, full of ridiculous delusions of grandeur and a desire to escape the real world around me. I found music helped me turn those dreams into something concrete that would in turn, become real life.”
Now, the lofty dreams of a young man who dared to be different have indeed become a reality. Mika released his latest album, No Place in Heaven, last summer and it has been hailed as his best yet. There’s a more serious vibe to it, beautifully illustrating themes of being different from others – an outcast from society, religion, gay culture and heartbreak.
“I think we are all absolutely terrified of the idea of being ‘normal,’ he says. “Think about it, the first thing that someone tells you when they are hitting on you, or in love with you is, ‘You are different, special and unique.’ When things go wrong, we suddenly fall back down to earth and feel normal, and that is what gets us the most upset in a love story gone wrong.”
This won’t be Mika’s first time in China. The star performed at the West Lake Music Festival (WLMF) in Hangzhou last May, and has taken note of some interesting changes compared to his visits in the early 2000s.
“Apart from the obvious things such as the buildings and infrastructure changes, it’s the speed at which youth culture is developing that I find incredible,” he says. “[At WLMF] the crowd seemed to have some people who knew every lyric of every song and others that knew little. But after an hour you couldn’t tell the difference. I loved seeing that side of China, and it’s my main motivation for coming back so soon.”
We're giving away a pair of tickets to Mika's Shanghai show. For your chance to win, simply e-mail email@example.com with the subject 'Mika' by Feb 23.