With the magnitude of his recent success, Miguel is headed straight to the top. Luckily, LIU Post was able to snag him just in time for ACP’s annual Spring Fling concert.
Just a couple of months ago, Miguel won his first Grammy for Best R&B song, “Adorn”. Since then, he’s been on SNL, where he performed “Adorn,” and new single “How Many Drinks?” which has become a YouTube sensation, especially after the infamous “mic drop” that concluded the performance. If you haven’t seen it yet, get Googling now.
Stage presence. That’s what Miguel gave the students who attended his concert at the Tilles Center on Saturday, April 20. Performing a full set, and even singing his current hit, “Adorn,” twice, Miguel and his band kept a jam-packed Tilles Center completely engaged throughout the show.
The incredible recent success this young L.A. based musician has encountered has not stopped him from remaining breathtakingly humble and down to earth.
Pioneer editors and WCWP representatives, Olivia Wicik, Alex Parker, David Otero and Christina Kay were invited for an exclusive preshow interview with Miguel. It was almost easy to overlook that this was the same man who stunned us on SNL just days earlier.
WCWP: What has this year been like for you?
Miguel: It’s been surreal; it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, but nothing short of amazing. I’m really excited about what we’ve ac- complished this year thus far and the music we’re going to put out later this year.
WCWP: Is that a hint at a new album?
M: Could be. You never know. We’ll definitely release some new music though. I did a series of EP’s and we’re going to continue that this year.
WCWP: What have some of the highlights been since the last time we’ve talked, right before “Sure Thing” came out?
M: Playing at the Grammys this year has been incredible. We dropped “Sure Thing” and went on tour with Usher…went to Europe to do my solo tour for the first time which was amazing. Then we toured with Trey; that was incredible. I got in the best shape that I’ve ever been in. That was work but it was definitely, definitely worth it…all worth it in the end. Since then, we’ve been back to London, back to the UK and Europe on our own again and then I came back and just finished the very first leg of the Alicia Keys tour. We did the domestic portion and now we’re about to go to Europe with her in two weeks. It’s been good. We just released a new video for the new single “How Many Drinks?” with Kendrick Lamar, who is a good friend. I’m excited.
WCWP: There’s a lot of amazing buzz about that video [How Many Drinks?] on Twitter. You’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on that…
M: Yeah, its been great. I guess the fans really like it and I co-directed the video and wrote the treatment and kind of came up with the concept. Clark Jones, who I’ve worked with before has just been really, really cool about letting me be hands on, down to edit- ing the video and then just putting final touches on it. It’s been good, I’m happy that people enjoy it.
WCWP: You performed it on SNL last week…
M: Yes, I performed my version of that song, how I wanted it to be, and that was great.
WCWP: I loved the mic drop on the end. That was so smooth!
M: Oh, was it? I don’t know, was that smooth? Let me ask you a question, I honestly think a lot of things I do are not smooth but just because it’s “R&B” they kind of throw that in there? That was hardly a smooth move. I wasn’t planning on it, it just kind of felt like the thing to do at the time. When I’m on stage I just kind of don’t even think about it. It’s just; I do what I feel.
WCWP: You just had “Power Trip” come out with J. Cole. How was working with him?
M: J. Cole is like another one of my brothers in this music business. I’m a huge fan of his. I was just really excited for him to invite me to be on the record. When he told me about the concept I thought it was super creative and I was really excited about it. The video was fun. It was directed by Nabil. I’m a huge fan of his so it was cool to meet him and work with him for the first time too.
WCWP: What’s it like when you hear the crowd singing along with you?
M: I don’t know if I can really explain that. It’s not something I can really give to anyone, it’s just if you know it, you know it. It’s a blessing. I definitely appreciate it as a musician. I’ve defi- nitely been in front of people… and it hasn’t always been that way. It’s cool to have that level of support and have that familiarity with my fans.
WCWP: So, it’s been a busy week for you. You’ve been here, there and everywhere. Have you heard you just got voted for TIME magazine’s Top 100 influential people?
M: Wow, yeah, I don’t know why. Seriously. I’m really appreciative of it though. But yeah, it’s kind of mind blowing. To be really obscure and to kind of gain people’s attention or awareness is really cool, especially when it’s because of something you love. I created an album I loved and that I’m really proud of and a lot of people are discovering me, because of the music and the stuff that I’m doing and I’m really passionate about. It’s special.
WCWP: Do you have a favorite, personal song? Or a song you prefer to perform compared to others? Or are they all like your children, you can’t pick one?
M: Yeah! It’s kind of like that. I have my moods too, so sometimes I feel a song one mo- ment more than the next. You know, “Adorn’s” been life changing. But “Sure Thing” has been life changing because that’s what got me signed, you know. But “Adorn”…that has been the song that is introducing me to a lot of people.
WCWP: Wiz Khalifa’s on the remix [of “Adorn”]. Was that an original thought of yours?
M: No, man, that was actually at the suggestion of Mark Pitts, who’s my A&R, which, was brilliant. He has a really good thermometer for what is and what is not…dope. What makes sense and what doesn’t. But, I don’t think the song would have reached as many people without Wiz on it. That remix really added longevity to the record and being number one in R&B for like 23 weeks was like a record, for R&B records. That’s special to me, but I couldn’t have done it without Wiz. A lot of stations wouldn’t have even played that record without Wiz on it, so it was a great movement and Wiz is just a great dude. I appreciate what he brought to the record and I appreciate him performing with us for the Grammys and everything.
The Pioneer: You were just talking about your song, “Sure Thing,” and how it got you signed. I read that it was a highly personal track, not meant for anyone else to hear, so how did you let that out?
M: It was at the suggestion of my manager at the time. He asked for the record. I played it for him and he was like this song is crazy, can you send it to me. I was like yeah… I don’t really want anyone else to hear it. He was like, no seriously, send it to me, so I said okay and good thing I did because he got it to Mark Pitts, who eventu- ally did end up signing me.
TP: That might hit home for some college students; if they have something personal they created that they might be scared to share. Would you have any advice for those students?
M: Absolutely. I have a younger brother, who is a genius. He’s a champion of his music and an incredible artist and musician, but I always tell him, you have to put it out. You just have to put it out there. You have to start somewhere. There’s a beginning to every story. Until people hear it, they’re never going to become familiar and whether or not it’s the greatest thing you do, it really kind of pales in comparison to just starting. It’s really important to keep that in mind because life is all about evolving and growing and you kind of want to document the progress. There’s no way of doing that if you never put it out there.
TP: Who has been your biggest musical influence?
M: Prince, by far, has probably been one of the biggest. Not even so much [his] music; I think it’s just his character. He always did what he felt, his choices as a musician and the tenacity. He really was adventurous and fearless. I don’t know if those are the right words, but I think you understand what I mean. When you look at Prince, you think he was the artist that didn’t have bound- aries and did what he felt. That inspired me and I hope to inspire people to not be bogged down with what people expect and the status quo. I think it’s cool to be free and create freely.
TP: Do you have any preshow rituals you follow?
M: No, not too many. I hang out with my guys. My band is my brothers and I think we really share a great friendship. We just joke around until last minute; we have our preshow huddle and I have an apple, if I can.
TP: Who else would you like to work with in the future?
M: There’s a lot…there’s a lot of artists. More recently I’ve been wanting to work with Sky Ferriera; she’s really dope. I’ve always been a fan of hers but never thought about collaborating with her, but I think it would be really cool. Jack White. Kanye West. Andre 3000. David Bowie is putting music out now, again, which is great, awesome. I’d love to work with him, or write with him, or have him write for me, I don’t know whatever. Anything! I can make him a sandwich or something. No, no I’m a huge fan of his, so that would be cool. I can go on and on. Yeah…The Lumineers are really dope…
TP: What’s been the hardest adjustment for you after reaching celebrity status? Has anything been particularly hard to get used to?
M: My career hasn’t really had a crazy trajectory. It wasn’t an overnight thing. It’s been a bless- ing. It’s kind of had its levels and I’ve gotten to adjust at every level and I look forward to move on and grow. I can’t say anything has been really hard. It’s been seamless.
TP: You’re just a natural!
M: No, no it has nothing to do with me! It just has everything to do with circumstance. It’s just been a blessing.
TP: Can you tell us a little bit about your jewelry? You have some great pieces.
M: Most of it is by this company called The Great Frog; they are based in London. The Great Frog is kind of like the original head-bangers jeweler. You know what I mean? From Led Zeppelin to The Stones…rock bands and metal bands.
TP: Where else do you want to travel? You’ve been all over the place, is there anywhere else you’re hoping to go?
M: I hope my music takes me everywhere. There’s no place I wouldn’t want to go. I’ve learned so much from my travels, just culturally. I never had the money or ability to travel before.
TP: What’s your favorite place that you’ve been to so far?
M: There are a lot of favorites…that’s tough. There are just moments. Where were we? Cape Town? Diving in the ocean, after a few glasses of whiskey just being like, we’re going to jump in the water. You know what I mean? Shark infested waters, mind you. Its just moments. London’s great. Paris is romantic, like they say. It really is, as cliché as it is. It’s just beautiful.
TP: Biggest piece of advice for Post students, who want to be like you?
M: Oh man, be yourself. That’s the coolest thing. Don’t do it unless you are really passionate about it. I’ve been really blessed to be around passionate people. You know, my band members are all really passionate about what they do and they make their own music on the side and the fact that they still get to share a part of their passion with me on stage. My team, my management, these are all people I’ve been lucky to have around. It’s been a gradual building of my team, my core. The ones I get to share these experiences with. You make additions and you hope for the best, but we’ve been blessed. Life is all about passion. You don’t want to do anything you’re not passionate about; you’ll have some regrets if you do.
Passion was unquestionably something that Miguel brought on stage with him. Aside from his remarkable voice that easily resembled an array of instruments, especially when he hit those high-pitched notes, he added his own personal touch to the concert. Sharing anecdotes to introduce certain songs was something that truly let Post students see the type of individual he was.
Miguel was not only passionate but also extremely appreciative. He let the audience know by proposing a toast. “Put one finger in the air,” he told everyone, “I want to make a toast.” Of course, the crowd did just that, and what followed was, “Here’s to health, wealth, prosperity and following every dream you’ve ever had. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, stop being passionate. It’s 2013… we made it!”