Miguel for the latest issue for Billboard
Billboard: Congrats on winning your first Grammy. Since the award wasn’t televised, where were you when you found out?
Miguel: I found out in the car as we were pulling up to the red carpet. It was an “Oh, shit” moment. I had my girl with me and it was like, “How crazy is that? And I get to perform?” It was just a great feeling.
When did you know that the performance was happening, and how did you arrange to start singing the song from the crowd?
A week-and-a-half out we knew that we could perform. I wanted to make an intimate thing but I had a bigger vision about the crowd. I got to tip my hat to [telecast producer] Ken Ehrlich-he really had the vision. I did want it to be a stripped-down performance, and it really was genius of him to put us in the aisle.
So you win the award, have a great performance, Kelly Clarkson shouts you out in her speech. How did you celebrate?
I stopped by the Sony party-had to do that to say thanks. I’ve been to these parties for years, but this seemed like the special night. I actually own something. I wasn’t just a part of it. So then I stopped by Chris [Brown]‘s party to see Mark Pitts-he signed both of us; he’s like my mentor. Then I went to my room. I had a suite, and I had all my friends over and family and we just partied. I didn’t sleep until the next day, which was awesome.
All this success in the last 12 months means a lot to you, coming off how you began this whole process almost exactly one year ago with the Art Dealer Chic mixtapes. You released those independently rather than through RCA just after the Jive merger. Why?
In late 2011 I was like, “I’m going to put out a series of micro EPs.” I just knew I wanted to put out free music and make it very quality vs. quantity, very personal. Make the whole thing a personal creative process from the artwork to the painting to the design to the production and writing-just for the people who discover music like I do online or my favorite blogs. We put out the first one at the top of February of 2012, and “Adorn” was on that and it got quite a buzz. It got a great response and Mark Pitts, my A&R, was convinced that it should be a single and I was excited, but I was like, “Are you sure this could work?” He was like, “Man, that shit is going to kill.” And he was right.
You’re about to go on tour with Alicia Keys. You’d worked with her on “Where’s the Fun in Forever” for your album, so did that opportunity come about through the collaboration?
She just laid it on me. She really came out upon gearing up for the release of Girl on Fire. She just kind of asked me, “Hey, would you be down to come out?” And I said, “Absolutely.” We had enough time to really appreciate and respect each other’s integrity as musicians. I really love her as an individual, and she’s a light amongst a lot of the bullshit in this whole thing. I’m really excited and honored that she invited us out. We’ll do our damnedest to work the crowd up before she plays.
So, since you’re about to tour with Keys, you may know that her secret for voice lubrication is melted gummy bears. Do you have any rituals of your own for keeping that falsetto intact?
Nothing as good as that, but all-natural honey is my favorite. And then an apple before I go on. What are those pink and yellow ones? Honeycrisp. You know what else I like as an alternative? Nectarines. It’s a similar texture, especially when you get a good nectarine.
An artist you may have worked with is Beyonce. What’s the story behind that photo of you two in the studio last fall?
Have I worked with Beyonce? [laughs] I was really nervous to ask her, that was all, I just asked her to take a photo with me and she was really sweet about it. That’s all I can say. I’ve honestly never worked with Beyonce. It would be awesome, though, I would love that.
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