Meet Miguel. You may have heard his hit single “All I Want Is You” featuring rapper J. Cole. Well, this suave singer-songwriter is injecting new life into R&B with his yearning vocals and memorable melodies. His debut album, also titled All I Want Is You (Jive Records), doesn’t drop till November 30, but he’s already shared the stage with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Usher, Jay Z and Eminem. And guess what? This 24-year-old crooner is half-Mexican. We got a chance to catch up with the up-and-comer and here’s what he had to say:
How did you get your start?
I grew up in LA. I started writing about 8. I signed to a production company when I was 13. I’ve been working hard. I got a lot of rejections before I signed to Jive.
How would you describe your sound?
I use the word eclectic. What that means is that every song has elements pulled from classic rock, funk, hip-hop and soul. My unique style in delivery is what makes them cohesive as a body of work. It’s a breath of fresh air.
What inspired the hit song “All I Want Is You”?
It was inspired by a woman. All the records on my album are inspired by actual events.
Do the women you write about in your songs ever hold it against you?
Lots of times they won’t know or they’ll find out later on. I’ve gotten a call or two before from a woman saying, ‘Yo, is this about us?’ I tell them yes or no.
You also have a song called “Quickie” about not wanting to be loved just a quick fix. Does that mean you’re single?
“Quickie” was inspired by an emotion. I was infatuated by this woman and instead of talking to her, I let myself feel infatuated the whole night. It was an experiment on the creative side. I thought ‘What if I just said exactly what I was thinking?’ And yes, I’m absolutely single. I think love is inspiration. I keep my eyes open. It’s not something that I can force.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
Right now, it still may be “Sure Thing.” There’s a song that I think will stand out called “Teach Me.” There’s an emotion in that song that’s really strong.
You recently opened for Mary J. Blige. How was that experience?
It was amazing. Every night I got to share the stage with her and El Debarge. My first tour ever. Just to watch her deliver and be vulnerable in front of all those people was amazing. At the end of the tour we had dinner and she was really keen on letting me know to stay true to who I am.
How did you get involved with Usher?
Everything came about through Mark Pitts [the president of urban music at Jive]. He put me in the studio with him in 2008. He let me co-write three records on the album Raymond vs. Raymond. [Usher]’s a big brother as well.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Prince, David Bowie, James Brown, Hall & Oates, Queen, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Kraftwerk, MGMT, Biggie. I can go on.
You’re part Mexican, do you identify with that side?
I always spent lots of time with my family on my dad’s side during holidays, birthdays. We get together at my nana’s house and have dinner. We eat together, laugh together. I haven’t had a chance to visit Mexico yet. When I do that, that’s when it’ll affect my music.
Do you speak Spanish?
Si, pero necesito practica. [Yes, but I need practice.]
Maybe you can find a Spanish-speaking lady who can inspire a song and help you practice?
There you go!
Great. So you’re interested in singing in Spanish?
Absolutely. I went to the Latin Grammys, which was amazing. Being there and seeing the energy, it meant more to me to do that sooner than later. It’s a different energy. I love it!