‘Hello. Helllooooo? Can you hear me?’
Chatting with Mika about why the gay scene in London has lost its edge while the reception fades in and out from his location in a gothic castle in Normandy is – I have to admit – a slightly surreal experience.
The star is currently touring the world and has a new album The Origin of Love due to be released in September, which he describes as a personal diary of the last 12 months.
‘I didn’t stop until I felt I had something you could sink your teeth into like a movie,’ he says. ‘I always say, I make alternative pop music. Which is a contradiction but it’s kind of this patchwork of different styles.’
He’ll also be playing in Heaven this week, the first time he’s done a gig at the iconic venue. ‘The last time I was in Heaven was to see Hedwig and the Angry Itch. But it is funny to be returning to a club that we used to sneak into when we were 16-years-old on Thursday and Friday nights.’
Mika has been criticised in the past over his reluctance to say whether or not he’s gay. His not unreasonable response has always been a refusal to pigeon hole himself. However, the star is vociferous on the subject of gay culture and clearly loves London’s scene.
‘London’s gay clubs used to be centred around the legendary night at the Astoria, with giant drag queens on pedestals and huge pop stars performing, and clearly miming and no one giving a shit because it was 4am in the morning. It was glamorous and grimy and was just really joyous and really fun, Heaven was a version of that – it was all part of the same wave and I think that has kind of been dismantled in the UK.
‘It’s become a lot more hip and credible. Now it’s not that it necessarily takes itself too seriously, but it’s definitely a different vibe than what was there in the early 2000s. It would be good to reclaim some of the very dreamy atmosphere and to have more theatre.’
Born in Lebanon, raised in Paris before moving to England at the age of 11, Mika is no stranger to multiculturalism.
‘I come from a family of five kids and we’re all quite placeless and I think that’s the reason we’re all in the arts. My sister does jewellery, another is a painter, my brother is an architect. I think being slightly placeless drives you to creating a world of your own.’
Nevertheless when it comes down to it his roots are in the capital, he says. ‘London is very much my home, it is where I have my house, my dog, my pub, where I went to college and have my school.
‘There’s nothing like London in the world, in its mix, everything. The architecture, right, you have all the same shops in New York but everything is climbing the sky it’s all so massive. In London you have exactly the same companies and shops but everything is approachable. Also the energy of London – look at how many British people are over the world in design and music. There’s a reason for it, because it’s a creative hub and a patchwork of so many cultures. It’s definitely a place I choose to live not just because I grew up here but because I’m fundamentally a Londoner in every way.’