Twenty-four year old Miguel Jontel Pimentel is experiencing stardom at a breakneck pace. He carries it well–as though he was born to be on this path. Come to think of it, he’s been prepping for this time since he was a pre-schooler. Miguel was multi-talented at age five–singing and dancing. By the time he became a teenager, he’d tacked songwriting and production onto his resume. Upon entry to this cutthroat industry, the half-black, half-Mexican singer was pegged as being nearly unmarketable, unless he went the B2K route. Miguel opted out and worked behind the scenes for years, with R&B crooners like Usher and Musiq Soulchild. Now is his time. Riding high on the growing success of his sleeper hit debut, “All I Want Is You”, we caught up with the L.A. native after a recent show to talk about his stage faves, how his band came together, and what music blasted on Saturdays at the Pimentel house.
Why does it seem like you have such an old soul, musically?
I think because I’m a firm believer that you’re guilty by association and that’s across the board so if you associate yourself with greatness then you’re more likely to become a great person. You’re more likely to glean certain qualities from the greatness around you. I’m very [much] into timeless music or music that doesn’t really [stay] in a certain time period and can still live today and is relevant today. It’s all about emotion. I think being that, that’s what I’ve conditioned my musical palate to. Those elements are what I’m gleaning from. Maybe that’s what gives me a little more, um, wisdom when it comes to music if that even makes sense but I paint with those colors, from that palate of timeless music.
Honestly speaking, after watching you perform, I understand the “modern day Prince” label people have been tagging you with. Did you listen to a lot of Prince growing up?
Definitely a lot of Prince. A lot of David Bowie. A lot of The Eagles, Queen, Kurtis Blow, Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, uh, The Temptations, so on and so forth. I had the privilege of being exposed to a really broad range of music because the juxtaposition of my parents tastes was very broad. My mom was into soul and my father was into, like, everything. It just made for real diverse taste.
Which song do you enjoy performing most?
The song I enjoyed performing the most, tonight, I think would be “Girls Like You.” It’s kinda one of the more obscure songs on the album… Either that or…
You really got into “Quickie” tonight.
I was just gonna say “Quickie…” [laughs] In the set, that one of the longest songs I’ve been performing and I love it every night.
Did you choose the band members yourself? They’re incredible.
I think everything came together kind of organically. I started with just a few pieces, like drums and guitar. Those core players introduced me to other players and it just kinda, through time, I just found a solid bunch of guys and we’re on the same wavelength and we’re all young. I think that was just the point- finding people that can grow together and just kinda embrace all of these experiences together and bring it into our music. That’s really what it is. We helped each other find each other, that’s what makes it special.
You did Mischief the Mixtape before your official album dropped. Are you planning on doing any more mixtapes?
I do wanna put out a couple, just very independent, personal projects. I have a couple concepts but right now, I’m still focused on just getting the show together and touring and really growing onstage, and applying all the things we learned in a night, to the next night. Just kinda making it snowball. I haven’t had time to really compile another project but its coming. For sure.
Will it come before the next full length?
I definitely wanna put it out before the next album. KInda like a segway just to get newer listeners, or newer fans abreast and bring them up to speed with where my mind is at. That way there’s no guesswork and you kinda get where we’re at when the album comes out.
– Nadine Graham
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Nadine Graham is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA. She’s a Hip Hop head who prefers sneakers but can truly appreciate a dope pair of heels, every now and then. She’s also known for expounding on her own random thoughts atwww.twitter.com/MadFreshDaily.