Miguel unleashes his ‘Wildheart’ on his third studio album.
The project, which hit stores globally this week, already has early Grammy buzz thanks to its qualitative grit, sensual seductiveness, and potent production.
With new single ‘Coffee’ heating up airwaves worldwide, we caught up with the soulful crooner in London town to discuss his LP, his artistic point of difference, Janet Jackson‘s comeback, and much more.
An insightful feature awaits below…
That Grape Juice (Sam): Miguel, welcome to back to London and welcome back to That Grape Juice!
Miguel: Righteous! Thanks, man.
TGJ: You’re on the cusp of releasing your new album ‘Wildheart’, which we’ll talk about shortly, but it’s been about three years almost since you released its predecessor, ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’, came out.
Why such a lengthy gap?
Miguel: Essentially because as an artist, it entails giving yourself on nearly every level. You know, your experience, your fears, your aspirations, your sensitivities, so on and so forth. And after a while, you can only give so much before you need to replenish, refill. So, I just needed to take some time for myself.
TGJ: You’ve given listeners a taste of what to expect with lead single ‘Coffee’ (which we love, by the way). Would you say it’s indicative of the overall sound and feel of the album?
Miguel: No, I think there are elements in ‘Coffee’. It’s a nice segue—’Coffee’ is a great segue, but I think overall the album is much more aggressive sound-ically.
TGJ: What are some of your favourite tracks from the album?
Miguel: Oh, man. They’re all my favourite tracks.
TGJ: I mean, what you’re listening to, in particular, at the moment.
Miguel: No, I’ve stopped listening to my album since we kind of got it mastered. Thank goodness!
I mean, it’s tough. I write albums, so I don’t really write… One song is not more important than the next. No song is more important than the next. It’s all about the—
TGJ: As a body of work.
Miguel: Yeah, it’s about the body of work, so, it depends on the mood. ‘Waves’ is fun and party. It’s like a party song. Whereas ‘Leaves’ is more poetic and introspective in a way. Then, ‘The Valley’ is crass and raw. ‘Coffee’ is romantic in the sentiment but when you listen to the lyrics it’s about kind of that feeling when you first meet someone and there’s a lot of connectivity for some reason that you can’t explain. It’s really about first meeting someone and having a lot in common—and that is kind of a beautiful blur. You know?
I’m trying to think of other standout songs.
‘What’s Normal, Anyway?’ is super introspective. ‘Face the Sun’—a few releases.
TGJ: Just a little bit of something for everyone.
TGJ: We hear that you’re approaching the visuals from this project differently compared to in the past. I know the video for Coffee dropped recently; it was racy, but it was kind of told a bit of a story.
What can we expect from the visuals coming thereafter?
Miguel: We’ll release the other pieces to this portion but as we release the visuals for this album, I think people will find that they’re a lot more visceral. It’s all about visceral. This piece will be the most linear in the story-telling. The rest of them will be a lot more visceral. It’ll be more visual poetry.
TGJ: You’re an artist that has kind of always marched to the beat of your own drum—where it’d be musically, sonically, or even strategically. I know in the last album kind of came out in pieces. Why do you find that so important, and will this continue with the Miguel brand moving forward?
Miguel: Why is it so important? I mean, it’s the f***ing name of the game. You know, that’s what ‘Wildheart’ is all about. It’s about knowing yourself enough, knowing what you believe in, and knowing what you stand for enough to be able to ignore the programming. You know?
When I say programming, I mean the accepted ideals of things like happiness, or success, or wealth, or spiritually even. It’s taking the time to figure out what those things mean to you, specifically, and living by that. Do you know what I’m saying? Allowing your actions to reflect who it is you’ve taken the time figure out who you really are. And, honouring your spirit. I think the more time we spend figuring ourselves out, appreciating ourselves, respecting ourselves, loving ourselves, and believing in ourselves the more likely we are to make decisions that reflect our true purpose—and that often ends up leading to doing things that we’re passionate about. Passionate people make decisions out of love. We need love. In turn, creates happiness—and we need more happiness in the world.
So, that’s what ‘Wildheart’ is about. It’s about being wild enough, crazy enough, delusional enough to ignore—ignore the outside ideals of what you should be: this is how you should dress; this is what cool is; this is what happiness looks like; this is what success means.
It’s challenging all of those for yourself and deciding for yourself what that looks like for you, and not letting those ideals from other people dictate you, you know?
TGJ: So, speaking of marching to your own drum and ignoring the ideals basically, Janet Jackson is making headlines recently for shunning the traditional system and kind of going alone.
She’s one of the biggest artists to kind of go the indie route. As someone that, in relation to your last answer, kind of marches to the beat of their own drum, what’s your take on that? And, is she an artist that you could ever see as a collaborator within the future?
Miguel: I think, there’s no better person to do it. Janet Jackson is iconic. Especially for us, we grew up in the 90s. I was born in the 80s and was raised a bit in the 80s, but I grew up in the 90s. Janet is one of those artists that just– she’s Janet. She can and should go out on her own and stand on her own two feet. She has the wherewithal, the fan base to do it. I think as the business in music progresses, I think we’ll see a lot more artists doing that anyway.
We live in a time where it is about niche.
You can look at it in little things like food is now. There’s this whole appreciation of more smaller companies that make quality products. That’s who we are culturally. We’re appreciating those kinds of things—and I think, Janet stepping out on her own kind of speaks to that social, the climate, I guess.
TGJ: Is she an artist you could ever see as a working with in the future?
Miguel: Are you ****ing kidding me? I’d love to write for Janet.
TGJ: Speaking of collaborations, you’ve collaborated with major names like Mariah Carey, and on this particular project, you’ve worked with Kurupt, you’ve worked with Lenny Kravitz as well. Moving forward, is there anyone that you would like to work with that you haven’t yet worked with?
I’ve known this a long time, Jack White. I want to work with Prince. I want to work with Jay Z. I want to work with Kanye. I’ve worked with Ye kind of but not anything has been released. So, it’d be good to…
Everyone else is like pretty much my friend that I already—
TGJ: Collaborated with already?
Miguel: Yeah. (J)Cole, Wale, Kendrick, Thundercat.
I just worked with (A$AP) Rocky, which is great—that just came out. I’ll probably be going to do something for (A$AP) Ferg, I believe.
JDavey was friend of mine. Those are friends of mine. They just released the album, like an EP (which is awesome).
There’s a lot.
TGJ: That’s a great list.
Rounding up now, your career really enjoyed, I should say, a boom following the success of ‘Adorn’ and all the success it’s achieved. Away from the spotlight, what were some of the biggest changes you noticed from those around you following the success of that track?
Miguel: The changes—what changes did I noticed from people around me?
TGJ: Around you, yes. Away from stage.
Miguel: Are we talking about like fans?
TGJ: Family, friends— the people around you, in your private life.
Miguel: Not so much family. I’ve been blessed to have a family that’s very level headed about everything. You know, I’m still Miguel, so it’s not like crazy or skewed. And if it is, I haven’t noticed a big—
TGJ: Difference or change.
But I’ve found that it kind of depends on where I am, you know? There’s a lot further that music has a lot to go, and a lot of places I’d love to reach. So, I’m hoping whatever levels of the scope, broadens. You know, I hope it broadens just because I love making music and I want people to hear it and to be in to it.
Which kind of leads us really well in to the next question which are: What are three things that you want to achieve in the next three years?
Miguel: I’d love to break two of my artists on my label as viable musicians. I’d love to step out as a respected actor. And I’d love to collaborate with a designer and a brand that reflects my personal taste in aesthetic and lifestyle.
TGJ: What would you say is the best piece of advice you’ve received from another artist? And, what would you say is the worst piece of advice? You don’t need to say the artists’ names, but as an artist who kind of achieved success and is still relatively on the rise, if you know what I mean, what piece of advice you’d say is best and worst?
Miguel: Best advice– there’s a lot of good advice, the best? Shit, **** the negatives.
I don’t know if that’s even an advice, but more than anything, the sentiment was: stick to your guns, type thing. That was the sentiment. Just keep doing that, you know?
Worst advice—probably like, get it while you can. You know what I mean? That’s the worst advice.
TGJ: Kind of flipping that question on its head a little bit, as an artist, what advice would you give to people who want to be in the position you’re in?
Miguel: Stick to your f***ing guns–that’s what ‘Wildheart’ is about . It’s about knowing what you stand for, and living by it—standing for and standing by it. You know? There’s no other way, man.
I would suggest reading a book called “Do You!” by Russell Simmons. That’s a good one. Easy read but on point.
TGJ: You kind of evoked an effortless cool. What’s the corniest song or album on your iPod?
Miguel: Corniest song? That’s kind of subjective.
Corniest song, a really corny song?
I don’t know. [Laughs]
What songs do I have on my phone? I got to take it… I haven’t been listening to them, like I got to catch up. So, let me see. Let me take a look [grabs phone].
Oh! There’s one right here. It’s old though, so don’t judge me.
TGJ: No judgment [laughs].
Miguel: I haven’t been listening to music from the time we’ve been working on music.
I mean, is this a corny song though?
‘Bugatti’ by Ace Hood. That’s just me. I love that song though, at the time. That’s just old as ****.
Let me see.
I don’t have that much on here.
I’m going to list what I have on my phone, like watch.
I got A$AP Ferg. Rocky—that ‘Ace Hood’ song. Adele. Andre 3000. Arcade Fire. Avenue D, which is super dope. AWOLNATION. Band of Horses. Beanie Sigel. Nonchalant Savant—that’s my artist.
Delphic. Ballow. Blue. Bob Dylan. Brothers Johnson.
Oh! I have a Charli XCX song—and it’s not a corny song to me. ‘Boom Clap’ is not a corny song to me. I like that.
TGJ: It’s a great song [laughs].
Miguel: A ****ing great song.
Chemical Brothers. Circle Waves. The Clash. Coldplay. Common. Concrete Knives. Crunc Tesla. Curtis Mayfield. Cut Copy.
I don’t know. Let me see.
Bowie X Dead Prez. Death. The Doors. Drake. Earl Sweatshirt. Earth, Wind, and Fire.
TGJ: So, Miguel listens to great music—that’s what you’re basically summarizing? [laughs]
Miguel: I’m looking for something like really… just like no one would expect that.
I mean, it’s not a corny song but people wouldn’t probably imagine me listening to ‘Pop That’ which is a French Montana joint (that shit was hard and that’s just old, too).
Don’t judge me. I’ve been working on my album.
Gotye. Grizzly Bear. Heart. How to Dress Well. Ice Cube. Imogen Heap.
Yeah, I don’t have… I’ve got some good ones on here actually. Damn, I forgot about this album.
‘Juvenile’— that’s not a corny song either.
‘Back That Ass Up’— every fucking party playlist for life.
Oh! Kirko Bangz. Remember that song ‘Drank in My Cup’? That’s an old song, right? Exactly!
Yeah, we should just move on to the last question.
TGJ: [Laughs] Lastly, if ‘Wildheart’ was a statement, what would it say?
Miguel: Transcend the programming.
TGJ: Miguel, thank you very much for your time.
Miguel: Thanks, man.
[Mandatory photo credit: Jamell Williams / That Grape Juice]