So, during his hiatus from the music business, Mika worked on creating a sound that was purely authentic to him, and untouched by his perceptions about what is current and trendy in pop music -- My Name Is Michael Holbrook is that vision realized. "I have completely abandoned any kind of worry about what people may or may not think about my music. I have absolutely refused to mimic the sonics of anything that is mainstream," he says, adding, "While still remaining within a pop context, of course."
That refusal also extended to his Tiny Love Tiny Tour, starting with his kick-off show in Brooklyn. While past tours of his included incredible theatrics, props, dance numbers and more, his latest tour simply featured Mika and his band playing through some of his favorite songs across all five of his albums. And it all took place in the weeks ahead of the album's release, a fact he says caused trepadation amongst his team "[My agent] was just like, 'You know, we're selling these shows — you haven't played the U.S. in three and a half years, and you haven't put any music out,'" he recalls. "She ultimately trusted me."
His strategy payed off — the star sold out each of the intimate venues almost immediately, in some cases having to add additional shows that also immediately sold out. "We sold 4,000 tickets in New York already," he says, with a cheeky laugh. "2,000 more and we'd be at Radio City Music Hall. For someone who's never been played on radio in this country, that's pretty good."
Mika wasn't surprised that his team trusted him with the decision, though — despite his aforementioned contempt for the music business, he contends that his record label, Republic, has always endorsed his "weird" vision, despite any questions regarding popularity or sales numbers. "They kind of see me as this completely atypical artist," he says. "There's this sense of pride from them ... and so they're quite supportive of me."
The singer's frustration with the music industry traces all the way back to the start of his career, when the star had spent years writing and sending out songs to labels, only to find them roundly rejected by music labels. His first official single came in 2006 with Universal Music Group's new label Casablanca, titled "Relax, Take It Easy." The song went on to have some tempered European success, but ultimately didn't achieve the success they were looking for.
Thus, Mika's magnum opus "Grace Kelly" was born. Upon its release, the song hit No. 1 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy and Belgium, while marking the singer's first entry onto the Hot 100 in the U.S., and saw Mika offering a rebuke the systems in place that would try to label and reject him. "After a certain while, the 'no's just provoke this kind of outburst, and this outburst manifested itself in this explosion of colors," he says. "So it became, 'I'll try to be like Grace Kelly. Oh, so sorry, is that too feminine for you?' It's like, I can be every single color of the fucking rainbow -- but in the end, I don't think it's going to work for you, so I might as well just be myself."
And yet with his success on that single, quite literally written about how trying to compare himself to others simply doesn't work, he was heralded by many as the new Freddie Mercury (which Mika still calls "absolutely ridiculous"). Even with a song about individuality, the star felt his talent was being reduced to a need by those in the industry to identify him. "Therein started this tension between me and the idea of the music industry," he says. "Again, it just shows you how there's different frustrations and negatives in this business."