By Chris Hammond
Thought provoking and emotionally involving, the music of Mike Hadreas (better known as Perfume Genius) has won him plenty of followers since his debut album Learning hit record stores in 2010. Since then he’s been building on his success with second release Put Your Back N 2 It. Though the album was well received, the video for single Hood attracted an unexpected backlash due to it featuring Mike in a tender embrace with Arpad Miklos, a pornographic actor famed for his work in gay films. Yep, that’s all it took to get the internet up in arms.
To promote the album, Perfume Genius embarked on a world tour this month, and with a date on these bonny banks at the start of September we felt it is only right to catch up with him.
You performed in Glasgow earlier this month. Had you the pleasure of a Scottish jaunt before then?
“I haven’t had much time to explore. We only had a couple of hours to wander round the last venue we played and grab dinner. My friend Stacey lives in Glasgow, so I always look forward to visiting if only to catch up with her.”
What would you say about yourself and your music to entice general music fans to one of your gigs?
“Tonight I had a very emotional time eating pizza. I realised while I was chewing that I genuinely had feelings for this pizza and that it was making me feel very good and I was very thankful. I am being dead serious. My music and performance are pretty dead serious and emotional as well, but hopefully in a good and healing way like this fucking bomb ass pizza I just ate.”
Put Your Back N 2 It came out earlier in 2012. Have you been happy with the way it has been received? Would you make any changes?
“Very happy! It is very scary to put something out in the world. People have all sorts of things to say. Most of it has been wonderful. People hate the title, one person even called it ‘dated.’ For some reason that made me gasp more than anything else, how gay is that? Not when people trash the actual music or my actual self but ‘dated’ is the one that got me.”
Were you surprised at some of the frankly ludicrous reactions to the video for Hood, and does it worry you that people can still get upset over so little?
“I wasn’t really surprised. Especially in America. Of course it worries me, but I push back enough that I don’t feel like there is much else I can do. People are going to do their thing, sometimes it is fucked up and closed-minded and full of fear. That’s them. I’m not going to change what I do for those assholes.”
Matador are one of those tasty labels which always seem to have an excellent roster. How did you get involved with them?
“It is a dream. Matador has been one of my favourite labels, ever since I was buying their albums with babysitting money in grade school. I think they were more willing to listen to my first album because they had recently signed Girls, who are a label mate of mine in the UK on Turnstile.”
If you ever felt a little lonely onstage are there any label mates- or indeed others – you’d like to perform with live?
“Cat Power! Easy!”
Last question, we like the name Mike Hadreas, how did you come up with Perfume Genius and why did you choose to go for a stage name?
“It was something stupid my friend said during a movie. I didn’t put much thought into it because I wasn’t expecting a career or even a handful of listeners at first. So it just stuck. My last name rarely gets pronounced correctly anyways.”
Put Your Back N 2 It is out now.