How many artists out there shun over-produced tracks, preferring to move their fans with their voice and guitar alone?
Sebastian Mikael is one of those artists. During his second visit to the ESSENCE office in New York, he seranaded the staff with a song off of his new album, and we just couldn't get enough. With his infectious falsetto -- employed heavily on the hooks for "Kiss Me" and "Lose It" -- and with groovy records like "For You", Mikael's debut album, Speechless, is sure to be apart of the soundtrack that takes us from spring into summer. We are looking forward to the album's release on June 24th, as well as his performance live at ESSENCE festival with his full band.
We asked him about his new project, what separates him, and got him to dish on his celebrity crush. Get to know Sebastian Mikael.
Tell us a little bit about your debut album Speechless and the producers and artists you worked with.
Speechless is my baby. I've been working on it for almost two years. It's really about my entire story and my journey and it's a really soulful album. I worked with two producers from Sweden. KJ [Kawar Jamal] and Joakim [Sandström]. They are grammy-nominated producers. They do a lot of Icona Pop and artists like that, but we went to high school together so it was natural to bring them in and do some tracks. I also worked with James London out of Atlanta. Of course, Wale is on my single "Last Night." Rick Ross is on my next single "For You," and I have a duet with Teyana Taylor called "Made For Me."
Your current single is "Forever." What's something you want to last forever?
I want to be young forever. [laughs]
What do you feel separates you from the new breed of R&B cats hitting the scene?
First of all, I think my background is the main thing because of where I'm from and how it shaped me to be the artist that I am. I feel like I want my music to focus on a more soulful throwback sound. Not saying I want to bring back an old-school sound, but every song that I do I start off by playing my guitar and writing it. That's my main focus. I'm not trying to follow whatever trend is hot at the moment. I'm just trying to do something that I feel is timelness, to bring back a sound that I miss hearing. It's hard to explain, but I feel like the more music I put out, fans will really be able to separate me.
I always want to make sure that people get to know me for who I am, for my story and for what I'm really about, not just my music. My main thing as an artist is to inspire other people-- especially where I'm from. I don't know anybody from Sweden that came over here to make music and was successful doing it. I definitely want to inspire people to do the same thing and not limit [themselves}.
Since you want us to really know who you are as a person, let us know who your celeb crush is.
[Long Pause] I'm so strict and realistic with it. [Laughs] I would have to say Rita Ora. Yeah. I had a different crush yesterday. Ashanti was yesterday, but today it's Rita Ora. It changes. [Laughs]
You do a lot of covers. Is there a particular artist, album, or song that really inspires you to create?
Sade. I listen to her all the time. She inspires me with her honesty and emotion and realness. She tells a story and I feel like she sings it the way she would say it.
Want more? Make sure you check out Sebastian Mikael on the Superlounge stage at ESSENCE festival on Sunday, July 6. Get tickets here.