Interview: Miguel Talks “Kaleidoscope Dream,” Sex, and His Lane in R&B

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Miguel‘s music has an appeal that reaches far outside the usual scope of a traditional R&B crooner. He could have stayed in the serenader lane—his voice is soothing and hits the perfect pitch on nearly every track, just listen to his latest single “Adorn”— but he hasn’t. He has his sights set on changing up the redundancy in R&B, and if you don’t believe him, take a listen to tracks like “Pussy Is Mine,” where he can make lines like, “’Cause I don’t ever want to imagine/All the other n***as like me/Ever had chance, to get in your pants” sound absolutely beautiful.

The California native made a name for himself with his debut album and hits like “Sure Thing,” but despite his success, he’s not the type to brag about popping bottles in the club. As he gets more comfortable with his place in popular music, it’s becoming even more obvious that Miguel is very different than most chart-topping singers, and his second album is going to play a big role in making that clear to anyone with doubts. Pigeons and Planes spoke to Miguel on his upcoming album, creating his own lane in music, and whether he listens to his own music in bed.

Interview by Lauren Nostro

Let’s talk about your upcoming album that drops on Oct. 2, Kaleidoscope Dream, why did you chose to release the previews in three parts?
Kaleidoscope Dream is all about my lifestyle, it’s pretty much the soundtrack to give people a better insight to the person that I am and what I’m really into. I chose to release it in three parts because different people consume music in different ways now. If you’re like me, you find music online on your favorite blogs, favorite magazines, and from your friends and it lends itself to consuming music and introducing ourselves to new artists in smaller doses. For those people who are like me, I wanted to give them the option to consume the album in three parts, in smaller doses. For people that enjoy the albums in the traditional sense and like to wait for the album and want a complete project, they can wait until Oct. 2. It was just a way of engaging different music consumers.

Did you change up your sound a lot on this album? I know your music was starting to sound more alternative, it was your progression in music. How have you created a more alternative sound?
I think more than anything, I just wanted to create music that inspired me and life and art—not to be cliche—they’re kind of reciprocal and so my lifestyle is really where I was coming from. The sound of it, I wanted people to feel the grittiness, to feel the darkness.

The first single, “Adorn,” ….
”Adorn,” the idea for it came to me on a plane on the way home and I just couldn’t wait to get home. I had been playing with this word ‘adorn’ and I came home, dropped my bags, and it’s a song that wrote itself.

Ma$e, Busta Rhymes and Wiz Khalifa have all remixed it, what do you think about their takes on your track?
I think it’s cool, I think it’s flattering more than anything. It’s really cool to see other artists that jump on it. It’s appreciated.

There’s a song that hasn’t been on the released EPs that you’ve been performing live, which is “Pussy Is Mine.”
I mean it really came from that feeling, wanting to hear it. I said it, I say it, all my music really comes from a personal place. “Pussy Is Mine” is really just about wanting to feel in the moment, it really belongs to you even if you know it’s not.

You’ve had a girlfriend for around seven years, what are her thoughts on you singing about sex and women in songs like that?
The beauty of being in love with someone is that they keep with who you are and they understand who you were before you met them and she’s always been very respectful of my creativity and she knew from the beginning that my music is really my outlet and because I do write from a very personal perspective, and I chose to incorporate my life into my music. That was something to be expected. Anything that I think of, it’s my place to be completely vulnerable like that and be honest.

That’s an important thing in your music is your honesty on love, sex, and personal issues. How do you balance being a lot of women’s fantasy but you have a lady at home that you’ve been with for so long?
It’s not really hard you just keep things in perspective.

I came across this interview with Usher, who says he listens to his own music while he’s having sex. As an R&B artist, I have to ask you the same. Do you have sex to your own music?
Absolutely not. [Laughs] It’s kind of like—listen, Usher is my boy, that’s my friend—whatever works for him, it’s all good. But I don’t know, I don’t listen to my own shit in the bedroom. I don’t do that. [Laughs] I feel like for me, I’m just not that cool to pull that off. For me, I feel like I would look corny, but anyone else can do that.

You also have a long time girlfriend so she would probably think it was corny because she’s known you for so long.
Well, yeah, absolutely. It just wouldn’t…unless she’s like, ‘Babe, put this song on.’ That’s different. But if that’s something I would ever do? Nah, not my steez.

How did you meet Nazanin Mandi? Seven years is a long time, I’m sure a lot of women would be devastated if you two got engaged but it seems like you’re both very committed to each other.
I met Naz at my very first video shoot, she interviewed me, seven years ago. What I will say is that we’re not together just because we like to hang out. The purpose is finding someone that you can spend the rest of your life with, for me anyways. I think we both are working towards that goal. When that is, I can’t tell the future but I can say that that’s the purpose, right?

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