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Inside the beautiful mind of Perfume Genius

Mike Hadreas – better known under the moniker of Perfume Genius – is reflecting on the year that's just passed us by.

“I used to be really broke, so I used to make all my Christmas gifts,” he says. “Now I can afford to buy people gifts. I've been really making up for lost time.” He's also winding down from an extensive, months-long tour in support of Perfume Genius' fourth LP, No Shape. Looking back at the run of dates, Hadreas senses that he's come to know the songs much more intimately – and it's reflected in the shows themselves.

“I'm always interested to see how a tour unfolds – a lot of the time, you find it goes all over the place,” he says. “I definitely notice a shift in how I'm performing between when a tour starts and when a tour is ending – towards the back-end, I unlock something. I become a bit wilder on-stage; a bit more free. The songs are easier for me to sing, and I know how to perform them. It's not exactly choreographed or anything like that, but I certainly have an array of moves that I can pull from – it makes the show a lot easier for me.”

As dozens of music publications rolled out their end-of-year lists for their favourite albums, No Shape was one of the most prominently-featured. Critics and fans alike have been universally positive concerning the album, praising its honesty and Hadreas' musical growth. The man himself is notably grateful for the high praise that has come No Shape's way – especially as he moves into 2018, which will mark a full decade since the project began.

“I'm always worried about losing people along the way," he says. "Every album I make as Perfume Genius is very different, and I'm constantly pushing myself in order to be able to do something I haven't done before. For people to follow along with me while I do that, and be more supportive than ever – I feel like that's a really rare thing to have in music.”

Recorded in 2017's first quarter, No Shape is an album that thematically looks at life post-trauma – about where one finds themselves having previously been through the ringer. It's as autobiographical and introspective as Hadreas' music has ever been – meaning an ever-looming anxiety concerning listener response was bound to rear its ugly head. It's something countless musicians have gone through: Even though the music was made just for one person, there's something truly daunting about it going public.

“The worst part about putting out a record is the time between announcing it and it coming out,” says Hadreas.“You get so nervous – really, you're just wondering if people are going to understand it. You hope they do, of course. You're trying to get something across in a certain way. When you make an album, it's because you have something to say. The way people have reacted to No Shape is nothing short of incredible. I feel like people are having the feelings that I wanted them to have. It's not necessarily a happy album, but I do see it as this little pearl of hope.”

At the time of his upcoming national tour, Hadreas will be coming out of hibernation; having  taken some much-earned time off at his home in Tecoma, Washington.

“Australia's going to be my first thing I do for the new year,” he says. “I'll be so rejuvenated by the time I get to play for you. I'll have just been in a bathrobe for three months straight. I just bought it, and it was very expensive – so I'm adamant about using it as much as I possibly can.”

Perfume Genius will perform on Tuesday March 6 at The Zoo, Brisbane; Thursday March 8 at Adelaide Festival, Saturday March 10 at Golden Plains, Meredith and Sunday March 11 at PANAMA Festival, Tasmania. Further details via Mistletone