As the old adage goes, there’s nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to music. Don’t get it twisted, artists have been able to prove over the past couple of years that innovation goes far, but everything’s been done – and overdone. However, there are a few artists that understand that things can be redone with a fresh perspective, a category in which singer-songwriter Miguel Jontel (who goes the Madonna route and uses just his first name) falls.
Most R&B artists are heavily influenced by yesteryear’s top vocalists – Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass – and they stick to those influences. Miguel’s range is a little broader, allowing him room for experimentation and growth outside of the realm of R&B and into his own genre, which he deems “eclectric.”
“I really believe I’m in my own lane. I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes. I’m just doing the kind of music that I want to do,” Miguel says, standing firm on the quality he’s bringing to the music industry. “I naturally write simple songs with big melodies. I can find something I love in a lot of different kinds of music. Today it might be Thelonious Monk; tomorrow it might be Queen. I take what I love about those different things and make it my own.”
Being that music means the world to Miguel, he wants others to hear the world through his ears. “I know in my heart that there’s people in the world that want to hear the same things that I want to,” he proclaims. Between Miguel’s work on Usher’s latest project Raymond v. Raymond and the release of his debut album, Gravity, on Jive Records, this summer will certainly be a testament to his talents.
He’s a constant contradiction, from his music to his opinion on his own vocals. “There are so many incredible vocalists out there, murdering me so crazy, but I’ll guarantee you that I’ll do something that they can’t do because I have more of a stylistic approach than they do.” It’s this kind of self-described “eclectricism” we need to shock our ears, compelling the enjoyment of a re-invented R&B. “I don’t expect people to love my music. I don’t expect them to even like it, but I expect people to respect it,” Miguel demands, even though he admits that he doesn’t think of himself as a “great singer.”
Gravity traces the steps that we all take in romance from infatuation to love and all the joy and pain in between. “There’s a song called ‘Sure Thing’ on the sampler, and the overall sentiment is: you and I go together, we belong together and there’s nothing in the world that could change that,” Miguel explains the good side of love. And then there’s the opposite: “ ‘Quickie’ – with that, I’m just trying to see you for the night, you look great, but this is what it is and if you can get with that, then word.” Don’t judge, ladies – he’s got a good explanation for his quickies. “At first, we may want a quick fix of physical attachment. Eventually, we will find we’re missing emotional attachment and we want to get to the ‘sure thing,’ but the in between is the falling for someone.”
The 23-year-old might be on to something. A passionate one-man-show, writing, singing, playing guitar and sometimes producing his own tracks, he states, “At the end of the day, your conviction about something is convincing enough.”