story / Robert Frezza
photos / Elizabeth Wirija
R&B singer Sebastian Mikael, had different tastes in music than everybody else in school. “I couldn’t pinpoint it exactly. I moved to California the first few years when I moved to the States then switched over to NYC,” said Mikael. His swagger, which will remind you of D’Angelo or Miguel, is undeniable. He blends the 70s and 8os decades effortlessly with his songs, fashion, and style.
Mikael’s biggest influence by far is hip-hop producer Pharell, who inspired him to get in the music industry. “When I first started making music I liked his pace and his jazz influences, just like how Tribe Called A Quest did it in the early 90s. It’s important to have a plan or foundation when you start off in the music industry. The most important thing is the music. Consistency is important,” declares Mikael.
When Mikael released his very first single “Beautiful Life” he was still in school. The R&B influenced tune was solid, but reflecting back on his early days, Mikael did not know what his sound was. “What I’m doing now is what I love the most. My current soul/funk sound is what my Mom used to listen to and what I gravitate to the most. That’s where my heart is,” the singer admits. “When you see every single song I put out, it illustrates my journey. The more I experiment with music the more I’m in my element.”
The singer comes clean on social media, love it or hate it, Mikael thinks it’s a full-time job, but it shouldn’t be an artist’s number one focus. “You have to have your music speak for itself. Instagram is still such a creative outlet inside and outside of the studio, though.”
Mikael met and learned from a lot of people in the business thus far. “I had to adapt quickly and I learned a lot from (producer) Rico Love in terms of my work ethic. I had to become disciplined,” the singer said. “I would love to meet Miguel, Maxwell, D’Angelo—they are my idols. I would love to meet them and soak up and vibe with them,” says the starstruck singer.
His new EP, out April 5, I C U U C ME PART II, was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. “It was a very personal project. When I write songs it’s gotta be personal and honest—and it becomes very therapeutic. I would try to write songs for other people, but my heart was never fully in it. You can’t have things premeditated, you have to have an idea or concept and just got to take things were they take you,” the singer says.
Mikael’s style is very laid back, comfortable, nostalgic, and eclectic. “I care about details when it comes to my style. It’s all about contrast. I have a mix of vintage attire from the 70s and 80s. I try not to be trendy, but I express individuality. Dress how you want to dress,” the singer declares.