If asked to describe singer/songwriter Miguel Jontel the most accurate thing you can say is he’s indescribable. With a look and sound that crosses genres and breaks the typical radio-friendly mold, many record labels had no clue what to do with the twenty-two year-old L.A. native. Not one to take no as a final answer, he became a songwriter working with the likes of Musiq, Mary J. Blige, and Usher.
In addition to working on Usher’s sixth studio album Miguel has been hard at work finalizing his debut album tentatively titled ‘Gravity.’ The first single from the album, “Sure Thing,” being prepared for release next month, Miguel wants fans to know that as an artist he will not give you the same old music. He lives for being an individual who reaches through boundaries and pulls you in. Be prepared because when Miguel drops you may never look at R&B the same again.
Singersroom: What is it that made you want to become a recording artist?
Miguel: I was always an artist. In everything I do I’m an artist. I discovered music at a young age and it was music that gave me that feeling that I could reach out to a larger audience, like I could reach the world.
Singersroom: There are a few noteworthy artists that got their start as songwriters. Was that part of your plan for getting where you are today or is that just how things worked out?
Miguel: I got signed as an artist and ended up being a writer. There are a few guys out there that were writers who became artists but I kind of did it in reverse.
Singersroom: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
Miguel: I’d say Usher’s project. His new one that’s about to come out. I was involved in the creation of that one from top to bottom. I don’t have a whole lot of songs on there but I was around for that process. I was involved with the last one, just not as much. The last project wasn’t received very well but I really feel like the fans will really appreciate and gravitate towards this one. It’s classic Usher in the sense that he sounds amazing on the records, but then it’s edgy in the sense that’s he’s reaching out to his immediate family, the people that’s been with him since the beginning, and just a more “worldly” audience. I think everyone at this point is reaching out to a broader audience because we’re realizing that there’s a whole world out there.
Singersroom: You’re an artist as well as a writer so you’re attachment to your work must be stronger than someone who is only one or the other. Have you ever had a song concept or idea that you couldn’t let go of?
Miguel: Yes. It’s happened but it’s very rare. Like working on Usher’s project, he understands the creative process. Usher is a very good friend of mine. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as an artist and performer. He knows about passion. He understands how passionate artists can be about their work. He knows the emotion that comes with writing a song and creating music so he’ll say write it out. He’ll let me write it out and we see where it goes.
Singersroom: What’s your process like when creating music?
Miguel: It’s always different. I write about how I’m feeling. I write about emotions, things I’ve seen, places I’ve been. I might get inspired by another song. No artists should try to create without emotion. That’s our job as artists, to express and convey different emotions and make them relatable to the audience. That’s what I’ve been grown to be, creative yet still relatable.
Singersroom: Is there a difference in your process when writing for yourself and writing for others?
Miguel: I approach it different In that I’m very conscious of the person I’m writing for. I try to connect with that person and see where their head is at and then capture the emotion from their prospective. I spend a lot of time trying to see where their head is at and see what they’re thinking so the song will be believable. That’s why music is the universal language.
Singersroom: What were some of your influences when developing your style?
Miguel: Classic rock, electronic music, funk, and definitely soul. The music itself is a mix of all these things but I tend to use classic rock as my primary influence when it comes to my vocals. Bands like Queen, The Beatles, The Police, Unicorn, Def Leopard.
Singersroom: Your style is a fusion of many different genres. If you had to give it a name what would you call it?
Miguel: Eclectric…Ha, you thought I wouldn’t be ready for that one did you?
Singersroom: Your album was called ‘State of the Art’ but is now called ‘Gravity.’ What’s the meaning behind that title?
Miguel: The working title and theme now is actually called ‘Gravity.’ I wanted to call it ‘Gravity’ because when you’re falling in love or falling for someone you really like and have strong feelings for the attraction is unavoidable. It’s an unavoidable force. You want them, you need them, to the point where it’s inescapable.
Singersroom: What do want people to think/feel when they hear your music?
Miguel: I want them to say “thank goodness!” I want them to feel like this is what they been wanting and this is what they’ve been waiting for. It’s so new and so different. I know there’s a place for it. I know there’s a market for it. People will hear it and feel like it’s so different yet still relatable.
Singersroom: In today’s industry artists are weighed and measured by their internet buzz. How important do you feel it is for new artist to have that internet presence?
Miguel: I think it’s a great co-sign at best. Like people know of me right now. There are a few people who know me on the internet, who have listened to the music on my Myspace page. But it’s not as big as it could be. I definitely could have a bigger internet presence.
Singersroom: Most artists who have their own style and a strong desire to stand out have trouble staying that way when signing to a major label because the business wants to market you to the masses. Since signing with Jive have you been able to be yourself or do you get those “suggestions” about your image or your music?
Miguel: I choose what I wear. My image, everything I put on is evidence of my personality. The look, the feel, the sound it’s all about touching boundaries yet still being relatable to the audience.
Singersroom: If you had to pick one song that serves as a proper introduction of who you are and what you’re capable of what would you say it is?
Miguel: I’d say “Sure Thing.” I have a lot of songs that are different elements of who I am but “Sure Thing” has all the elements that make me. It’s edgy, emotional and different without being off putting.
Singersroom: A big part of reaching your audience is the live show. Now we know you can come up with some dope songs but what can people expect from the live show?
Miguel: Oh it’s definitely different. It’s edgy, sexy, and very fun. We hit that stage and we wild out. The fans are definitely going to enjoy themselves. The single will be out next month so when we start doing the promo tours and all that you’ll see.
Singersroom: When it’s all said and done what do you want your mark in this industry to be?
Miguel: A body of work that transcends time. When I say that I mean in the sense of John Lennon, and Michael Jackson. I want to touch people and leave my mark in this world with both my music and my actions.