POW! Meet Miguel Jontel Pimentel also know as MIGUEL singer, songwriter , producer and the new prince of alternative R&B. Did I mention Grammy Award winner? Yes. Miguel recently won a Grammy award for best R& B song and I predict this is just the beginning of an award stacking future. I’m super stoked and extremely proud to have this artist (that way too many people are still sleeping on) featured on the blog.
If you are not familiar with MIGUEL, let me be so kind to give you a brief introduction, so next time anyone mentions him, you can show off how up to date you réally are. 😉
Miguel who got his interesting looks from his Afro American mother and his Mexican father is the type of artist born to sing. Although he initially wanted to be a dancer, Miguel started pursuing a singing career from age 13. His first steps in the often complex and somewhat shady music industry were a fact when he signed to Black Ice Records and released his very first single ‘Get Ya Hands Up’.
What you just saw is a typical R&B video filled with cliché references from popular R&B videos that were big in the early 2000’s. The look the then 19 year Miguel was sporting is far away from how you see him today, then again, every artist embarks on his or her personal journey and it was clear that Miguel was still looking on how to market himself in the music industry. His first release was also the beginning of what would turn out to be a very long and enduring road towards success and acknowledgement in the music industry. Miguel left Black Ice after he decided that he wanted a different look and feel as an artist. He left an album called ‘Young & Free’ behind that never was released.
After his manager pushed a record called ‘Sure Thing‘ to Jive Records, Miguel got signed to a new home. Unfortunately, label disputes between Black Ice and Jive about Miguel and a supposed contract breach delayed the release of his second album called ‘All I Want Is You’ for almost 2 years. After everything was settled, Miguel could finally release his album and ‘Sure Thing’ was the first single that was released.
If you watched this video, you’ve probably noticed the first signs of what makes Miguel so interesting. The combination of his confidence, his lyrics and last but not least his voice makes him a standout artist in the genre. ‘All I Want Is You’ didn’t get the label push that it deserved but the single became a sleeper hit in the charts and the album ended up selling more than 400.000 copies in the US.
New label changes came up and Jive became a part of RCA records who are part of the almighty SONY and it looked like things were finally starting to look different for Miguel. Miguel, by then familiar with label drama decided to release 3 self financed EP’s called ‘Art Dealer Chic’ , a selection of music he send out into the world that was entirely his own. No compromises on sound, look or feel and it gave him the buzz he needed, right in time for his second album called KALEIDOSCOPE DREAMS that was released in October 2012. Stand out track of the album is the smooth ‘Adorn’ (channeling Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing anno 2012)
‘Candles In The Sun’ is Miguel’s latest track that got released.
The thing that I like about Miguel his music is that he elevates R&B to another level without losing classic elements of the genre that I love so much. He is never to cheesy, his lyrics are witty, sexually honest, sensitive and daring and last but not least, his music is sexy without trying too hard. I really recommend to buy his album if you haven’t already.
Now. Ready for the story behind the Polaroid?
Miguel was, (just like CIARA) kind of my new years gift from SONY BELGIUM for 2013. I was super stoked when they told me that Miguel was booked in Belgium somewhere end of January 2013 and that they would arrange a one to one with Miguel, interview included, because he was and I quote: “totally up my alley”. Up my alley indeed….! 🙂
Miguel was booked in Belgium at CARRE, a venue who is familiar with booking R&B acts, but with all due respect not the type of artists that have like a Grammy award-winning voice but more one hit wonders or straight R&B club artists. I expect an artist like MIGUEL in a venue like Ancienne Belgique or Vooruit in Ghent even, but hey. The thing with CARRE is that it’s for car-people only. I don’t have a car. Aicha doesn’t have a car as well. It’s a club located at a busy highway, and you only pass there on your way to Antwerp or to Brussels, it’s not very … accessible, so when Aicha her brother couldn’t give us the lift that we were counting on, we were kinda fucked, especially because we had to be at the scheduled meeting with Miguel at 7PM.
So it turned out that me and Aicha had to take a train to the nearest local train station ànd a cab to get to the club, because we couldn’t find a soul who was willing to drive us to the club at that time. For a split second I thought about throwing the towel in the ring. I was dead tired from my job, Aicha who is a flight attendant just came back from Peru with barely any sleep. It was a cold sunday night and when you encounter such a huss and fuss to just try to get to a concert you quickly ask yourself the question why you are even bothering in the first place. Then again, I’m not offered a one to one with an artist that often with this blog, I have to fight, beg and hustle to get my content most of the time and when an opportunity like this presents itself on a silver plate, I would be stupid to pass it on so we dragged ourselves to the club. Totally exhausted, pale and with huge bags under our eyes , but we arrived at the club.
Minutes after we walked in the club Miguel’s manager introduced himself to us and told us how amazing the tour has been in Europe so far. Upstairs in the balcony section of the club I noticed Miguel was busy giving some interviews. While I was preparing myself for my interview upstairs in the balcony the Sony representative warned me that they were running late on the schedule and that I probably would have just about 5 minutes, so starting with the Polaroid shots was much advised.
Miguel was taking a 5 min break to the toilet and the minute he came back, the club started to pump extremely loud music. So the moment me and Miguel got introduced it was very hectic. I explained him or rather yelled in his ears since the music in the club was blasting out that apparently the schedule was in delay and asked him if it was okay if we could take some Polaroid pictures first. He agreed and he followed me to the toilets because that was the closest location surrounding us that had some decent lights and white walls. In the toilet I explained the blog to him and showed him the artists that I featured and he was totally down to take some shots.
He asked me if I could wait a second so he could go grab his sunglasses and his coat. When he walked back in the toilets wearing a tailored long cognac coat and his sunglasses on, he complemented me on my boots. I immediately thought about that article from The Fader magazine about him where they state that Miguel never hesitates to give out some sort of complement to anybody he encounters. So, trying my best not to be distracted by his natural charm, I placed him against the wall, told him that I was going to take a test shot first and asked him to give me two different expressions and that’s exactly what he did.
I remember how I liked his confidence. Miguel is not the tallest person, but where he lacks in height for some, he makes up with a confidence that is extremely sexy. I do admit I had to hide the fact that I thought it was very attractive. Effortless confidence with a ‘never not nice’ attitude is a serious turn on for many women, including myself, yes! Although I suspected that my time was running out, I asked Miguel if he was still down for an interview. He was so relaxed and nice and down for anything really and he agreed to do the interview. I suggested to do the interview in the backstage lounge of the club since in the club the music was literally pumping out of the speakers by then. We picked out a quiet empty dressing room, installed ourselves and this is the result of the (somewhat hectic) interview session:
MIGUEL x A POLAROID STORY
Welcome to Belgium!
You are currently touring through Europe. What has been the most resilient moment so far?
Last night… the crowd was chanting my name and uhm…jumping up and down…You know, our show isn’t anything like a traditional r’n’b show. It’s just…alternative. Moments like that, I feel that they (the crowd) understood the energy that I was giving. I mean… I’ll be honest with you, there’s been like small crowds of people chanting but this was like…the entire theater. I even stage dove and they lifted me back on the stage.
<<<<< people coming in and out the room, leaving the door open with lots of people in the corridor loudly talking and interrupting the interview, Miguel noticed that it is making me nervous >>>>
Hold on…Can we close the door? Do you want us to go to another room?
No, but it’s nice of you to ask.
So yeah, that was just one of those special moments. It was an indescribable feeling.
How would you introduce yourself to my readers who –might- not be familiar with you?
And your music?
Awkward. Confident. Alternative
As in alternative R&B?
As in the alternative choice.
It’s definitely not the obvious R&B sound but I think there is so much there to appease the traditional, that sensibility. It’s different enough to also be inviting to people with a broader appreciation for music I suppose. My music is scandalous. My music is…romantic. It’s honest. It’s volnarable at times. It’s egotistical,….
<<< Sony label representative comes in tell me I have 2 min left. I start to stress more. I wasn’t even on my 3rd question according to my notebook, meanwhile, Miguel answers the question like nothing happened. >>>
Because as a man it is part of my personality. There is a moment where ego is necessary. I think for everyone ego is necessary to a certain degree. But I think especially when things become sexual it is very ego driven.
You know what I mean? It’s this exchange of ego and power and vulnerability that makes that topic very interesting. So when I do discuss sex it’s often in that type of context, a polarity of being in complete control and utterly defenseless.
Let’s go back real quick. Your very first album ‘Young & Free’ released in 2006.
Was it released?! (laughs)
Well, ok, I’ll rephrase that, it was ‘out there’ but it got shelved.
‘All I Want Is You’ took 2 years to come out after a label dispute?
From Jive you landed with RCA, enters Kaleidoscope Dream.
Long story short, it took you approximately 6 years for you to ‘arrive’, looking back did you ever thought about quitting music?
Never. Not for a moment. Not for a millisecond. This is all I ever put my time in, I mean like, consistently. I love music you know. I’m very passionate, it makes me feel something and hopefully it makes other people feel something.
Uhm. I have no doubts what so ever about the feeling part.
(Starts laughing) Thank You.
You are being compared with the greatest on earth. Prince, Babyface, Marvin Gaye even. In an imaginary world, who would you love to have a scotch & conversation with?
<<<< label exec comes in again, asking us to wrap up the interview, again Miguel continuous like nothing happened but definitely feels my tension and stress, because I have to cut off his answers to get to the questions that I want to ask >>>>
For real, whiskey and a conversation….? (thinks really hard)
You know what? I just watched a documentary about Marvin Gaye. He had quite a turbulent life. After watching that documentary I don’t feel like that would be the person that I would choose….
Really?! Why? Were you disappointed in some way?
No! Not disappointed at all. It gave me enough insight. It was a documentary that showed a lot of the relationship with Marvin and his father and I don’t know I had enough information. So I think I would love to have a whisky and a conversation with Prince for real.
<<<<The label exec comes in for another time and tell me it’s time to wrap it up, as in – seriously – >>>
And then my final, final question, because obviously I have to go…
“Is the perfect person waiting after her for her to go away now? Because I would give her 5 more minutes, like personally, I’d give her 5 more minutes.
<< That’s what Miguel said to the Sony representative. Slightly stressed she agrees and let us be for another 5 minutes >>>
Let’s talk about the track ‘Pussy Is Mine’. I’ve watched some footage of you performing the song and the type of energy that you evoke from the crowd via the song lyrics combined with your performance sort of reminds me of D’Angelo’s ‘How Does It Feel’ in a way.
That’s a serious compliment. Thanks.
It looks like you’re heading towards growing into the type of crooner that makes women go wild. You know what it did to D’Angelo as an artist, are you ready for that? Will you find a balance, because I know you have a relationship, how will you play with that, where is the line?
Alright. I suppose you have to know how much Superman bleeds into Clark Kent and how much Clark Kent bleeds into Superman. It really is about finding a balance, and when you have people around you it makes it easy to keep the…normalcy.
I’m a firm believer that life is about context. The moment you take a word out of a sentence the context immediately changes. Obviously you are on a stage, and people know your music, so more likely they are probably infatuated – ìf they are infatuated at all – with the idea. I guess it just leaving everything in context and knowing what it really is, that’s a huge difference.
But I appreciate it and I enjoy it. (smiles)
2012 is over. 5 Grammy nominations!
(Shakes his head) Crazy! That’s really crazy.
Do you have the day drawn out in your mind? What are you going to wear? Do you have your thank you notes already written out?
(starts to laugh) Nah, nah. In my mind, I have a picture of me standing with my arms like this. ( puts his arms in a way like he is carrying Grammys like Adele in 2012.)
But hey, it’s just visualising. I’m honored to be nominated, so if didn’t win any of the awards that I’m nominated for, I’d still be so appreciative and so humbled to be nominated. But the competitor in me and the ego in me…. I mean, I can’t take full responsibility for creating my music, I almost am a vessel. I can’t even recall writing ‘Adorn’.
According to what you said to Fader magazine, you had it in your head, you came in your room and you just wrote it out, correct?
Within the beginning of laying the cords and then going to my car was a two-hour period that I can’t necessarly peace together.
(Starts singing) ‘Let let let you down’ … I don’t know where that came from! It just came. I think that is just one element that makes me want to win. Other than that…it’s just a huge honour.
The label representative comes back in the room and is really stressed out at this point but Miguel says…
5 more minutes? Please?
I felt a little bad at this point, because there were other people waiting to have a moment with Miguel, then again, I always try to get the most out of any encounter, so deep inside I was very flattered that Miguel wanted to talk some more, because that somehow ment I asked some good questions.
So. I’m not really sure if you are currently working on a new album, but do you have any dream collaborations in mind?
(without hesitation) Yeah, Jack White. Florence Welsh. Grizzly Bear. Who else? I already worked with Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio. I want to work some more with him, he is amazing. And….Gary Clark Jr. That would be dope.
And that was officially the end of the interview.
Before we said goodbye, Miguel wanted to check out his Polaroid shots.
By that time the Sony label representative asked us to wrap up our meeting. Miguel thanked her for understanding and for giving me some extra time. I was super flattered when the Sony representative said: “Well, that’s ok, she is the best after all.” It’s nice to have some recognition from time to time, especially after all the hard work you put into something you love.
Miguel left for another interview and me and Aicha were heading downstairs back into the club and picked out a spot to enjoy the concert.What followed next was quite an impressive performance. Miguel lives to perform, I think it doesn’t even matter how many people there were in the venue, he would deliver the same exhilarating energy to a crowd of only 5 people. He jumps, twirls, splits, shouts, moans, serenades and all of that with so much confidence, it’s unbelievable really. Here are a few visual impressions from his performance at Carré.
His voice is an amazing powerful tool where he puts àll his emotion into. It was a breath of fresh air to see his performance and I remember thinking that although I was totally exhausted, I was damn happy that I left my appartement that day to witness that performance.
Only a few weeks later, Miguel is set to perform at the 2013 Grammy Awards where he was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards. Considering that KALEIDOSCOPE DREAM was released around the same time Frank Ocean and The Weeknd released their own major label debut album and Miguel his album was therefore slightly over shadowed, his live performance was a clear sign that MIGUEL officially arrived and is reaching for the stars. In my honest opinion I think MIGUEL is vocally overruling both his musical rivals by far, definitely watch the performance here.
Miguel won the Grammy for Best R&B Song for ADORN and blew away some of his musical peers that day at the Grammys with his effortless live performance. I love me a good underdog story, hell, I feel like one myself half the time so that’s probably why I love Miguel so much.Winning feels 10 times better when you come out being the underdog.
I predict for Miguel he is going to end up as a winner many more times after this. Aicha and I went home that night, completely exhausted but deeply satisfied. Love,
For my female readers who stuck it out to the end of this story, I have this little surprise video, shot with my modest Canon G12, so not the best sound or visual quality but interesting nonetheless.