While on tour with the Norwegian singing/songwriting duo Nico & Vinz, Sebastian Mikael is sent a resounding message about his music and the state of R&B. With less than five years in the industry the 24-year-old released his 2011 mixtape J’Adore, which put him in the eye of music executive at Epic Records, Sylvia Rhone. Soon after being signed with Epic he went independent with Slip-N-Slide Records.
“They didn’t have the same vision as me basically they wanted to push me in another direction. They actually wanted me to go more pop and I just wanted to keep my music I wanted my music to be soulful and real,” he explained. “They didn’t feel like it could work with that direction. We started working independently with Slip-N-Slide and from there everything happened.”
The vocalist is a believer in authenticity as a musician and relies on his creativity to push his success as an artist. Mikael noted, “Going independent, you can move around the way you want to. I had creative-control I can do whatever I want to.
Mikael – formerly known as De-Lor – is a native of Sweden; he was born to an Ethiopian Mother and Swedish father, both of who had an eclectic taste in music while he was growing. His father listened to everything from: “Bob Marley to Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind and Fire, Lenny Kravitz; a bunch of artists from different genres.” His mother was “big on Gospel.” He never got a start in Sweden because he moved to the states in senior year of High School In the states he says it’s what naturally what came to him. Being young and moving across the “pond.” He noted there is no real R&B scene in Sweden, mainly pop and house music. “The school thing didn’t work out,” he said. He ended up dropping out of Berkeley. “If you love music you go out there and you network and you develop your skills and your craft,” he said. He remembered his younger self saying, “I know what I’m doing, I’m putting all my time into this, and I don’t really have time for school.” He added, “That’s when I decided to focus 100 percent on my music.”
At a time where R&B artists are farthest from what they used to be, Sebastian Mikael’s sound is refreshing in the sense that his music isn’t boggled down with rough beats, and the cultural ambiguity of popular music.
“I always want my music to be soulful and to be real and to be honest. I listen to a lot of old R&B music a lot of old soul music just to get that inspiration, but at the same time, I mix it up too I put it out the way I see it; it’s not going to sound like R&B twenty years ago because I put my own flavor on it because I’m influenced by my era.”
The singer/songwriter is classically trained and he plays the acoustic guitar. He effortlessly fuses the styling of rock, R&B, pop and electronic music to create a sound that he can only call his own.
“I think that you should always want to experiment. You don’t always have to be super-traditional. You can do whatever you want with the music as long as its good music. The problem is, is that a lot of people feel like R&B don’t sell period and they trying to make they shit sound like trap music. With trap-like rapping on the side, because they want their record to be in rotation with everything else that’s playing. If that’s what everyone’s doing, it definitely gets redundant and it gets boring. I’m not going to stop believing in my music, because I don’t want to feel like I got to rethink about what I’m doing midway into my career because I followed a certain trend.”
The budding superstar says he never wants his music to sound, “copied and pasted” or overdone. “I want to make people feel like I’m singing it to them. The lyrics are honest and the lyrics are personal. Lyrics will always be the most important thing for me. You got to make sure you’re saying something in the song”
Mikael is in the “final stages” of his next EP. He’s still in the recording process due to being on the road for the tour. He dropped a single titled “Money” in April. He just performed ‘Mine’ – live on Interludes at HB Studios – which is the second single off the EP. “I’m super excited for this EP, because I took twice as much time in the studio than my first album, I just perfected everything. I want to feel like I outdid myself, and knowing that I’m behind all songwriting – no offence to the songwriter – but I feel like collaborating with songwriters on my first album made me comprise a little from what I wanted to say. This time around I’m writing everything.” On this next album he’ll be working with Swedish producers KJ & Joker, who are his high school classmates and did work on his first album. He also has some “surprise collaborations” on the EP as well. He’s going to continue with dropping another single along with visuals for the album until it’s complete.
Written By: Jharonte James