UB Interview: Music’s Most Talented New Artist Sebastian Mikael Speaks to UB
Born in Sweden to a Swedish father and an Ethiopian mother, singer/songwriter/musician Sebastian Mikael grew up in a diverse household immersed in music, fashion and art. In 2008, he moved from Sweden to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute before continuing his studies at Boston‘s prestigious Berklee College of Music. While a student at Berklee, he was signed by Slip N Slide Records CEO Ted Lucas and in late 2011 he released his first mixtape, J’Adore featuring his single “Beautiful Life” which received rave reviews.
Sebastian Mikael‘s “Last Night” featuring Wale is currently heating up the airwaves and charts and his next single “Forever” is already getting a huge buzz, it’s all in preparation for his debut album “Speechless,” in stores and iTunes in April!
Aries from UrbanBridgez.com talked to Sebastian Mikael about his current success, his up-coming debut album “Speechless,” his sound, the best advice he’s received from mentor, industry veteran Sylvia Rhone, his experience at Barklee College of Music, goals for this year and much more! Get to know this new talented artist, who you’ll be hearing a lot more from!
UrbanBridgez.com: I have to start by asking you about “Forever.” It’s such an amazing record, as a songwriter where did the inspiration come from?
Sebastian Mikael: Thank you. That record to me is one of those very heartfelt situations that you go through in relationships. I feel like everybody can relate to it. Rather to be just a heartbreak type of record, it’s also an encouraging record where I can encourage people, that’s what I love about the record the most. Just from my own experiences of being in a relationship and learning things and seeing things, I wanted to inspire in terms of people listening to it.
UrbanBridgez.com: “Last Night” was your first major single that people caught wind of, however “Beautiful Life” is what made me a fan instantly. One thing I love about you, is you don’t have a “sound.” From Forever, to Last Night and Beautiful Life are all in different lanes. How would you describe your artistry?
Sebastian Mikael: I definitely feel like as an artist, I’m leveled with the soulfulness of the music. I usually start writing every record with guitar vocals. So I really like when you take something that is pure and soulful that you can also mix in another color, like we did for Last Night. We started Last Night with a soulful feel, it had the chorus and the melodies and we brought in like a trap beat to make it interesting. Beautiful Life is just all the way an acoustic record, it’s meant to be an acoustic ballad. Forever is meant to be a traditional ballad. From time to time I like to bring in those elements to kind of just make it interesting. That’s all it is, but I definitely think that great music is great music and a great song is still going to be great.
UrbanBridgez.com: You have one of the most anticipated debut albums this year, tell us about the process you’re taking while preparing it for release?
Sebastian Mikael: Absolutely, that’s definitely one of the things that I look forward to the most. I’ve been putting a lot of work in the project. We’ve been working on it for a minute and I didn’t really want to rush anything, you know what I mean. I want to make sure that when I release it, I feel great about it. That it’s nothing that I’m a little iffy about. I want to feel like I put out exactly what I needed to put out, the way I initially wanted to. So that’s where we’re at right now, we’re in the final stages of wrapping it up. I’m very very happy with it, so I’m excited.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about one song on “Speechless,” that you can’t wait for your fans to hear and why?
Sebastian Mikael: I have a song called Lose It, that I’m like really excited about putting out which is going to be on Speechless. That record to me, kind of defines where I want to go with my sound. As far as even the other music after the album that I put out. I think that song has a very different sound and it’s a great song. It’s just very interesting to me and I can’t wait till people hear it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Growing up in Sweden, how do you think that prepared you for a life in entertainment?
Sebastian Mikael: I don’t think I was doing anything to prepare myself at the time except for like working on my craft. Just trying to become an artist and working on singing and just being curious and eager to learn. I’m still always very eager to learn like I’m always studying and trying to get better to perfect my craft and all of that. But Sweden to me…you know I guess I just had bigger dreams and I feel like a lot of the time when you come from a smaller place and this is nothing against Sweden. But where I was from people would kind of look at you like you were crazy if you had those types of dreams. Like saying I want to do this and they would look at you like what? You know what I mean (laughs). So that made me really want it, I was too stubborn to really let my dream go, that’s when I decided to move over here to the states. I felt like if this is really going to work, I have to be somewhere it could actually happen. That was the actual step for me that prepared myself for this, just moving over here.
UrbanBridgez.com: You studied at Barklee College of Music, what would you say you got out of that experience that expanded through your music?
Sebastian Mikael: Oh man, I think the main thing was the networking. All of the people that I met, I still play with the same band that I was playing with at Berklee when I started. We all met there and they’re very successful on their own as well. My manager also, he didn’t go to Barklee but we met when I was going there & I got introduced to him by someone who went to Barklee. Just the cool circle of people who was there and everybody wanted to work. And the creative environment that I was in was like the main thing I loved about Barklee.
UrbanBridgez.com: You originally were signed by Sylvia Rhone through her imprint Vested In Culture. We first got wind of you through our Epic rep and now you’re signed directly to Slip-N-Slide, what prompted the change from Vested In Culture/Epic?
Sebastian Mikael: Well I have actually always been signed to Slip-N-Slid and then it was Slip-N-Slid and Sylvia at Epic. Then we just decided to go a different route with the new music & the sound that we wanted to do. We just started going independently and we felt like that was the right thing because we’re so hands on. We were putting out the map of everything that we needed to do and was like you know what, let’s just go independent. It’s actually been a blessing doing that, it’s been amazing. With doing so well with the first single and everything like that.
UrbanBridgez.com: No doubt, Slip-N-Slide are doing the damn thing! What’s the best advice Sylvia Rhone has given you regarding the business?
Sebastian Mikael: She definitely wanted to introduce me to creating a great work ethic. Even though people like what you do and you’re talented and all of that, the work ethic is really what’s going to set this off and make you get to where you want to get. She’s a veteran and been doing it for so long, that she’s seen everything. She’s seen artist come and go but she’s also seen artist like really work and make it. So she really broke it down and showed me, this is the type of work and what you need to do. Like even when you’re not doing a show or whatever, you always have to be working and hustling. That kind of just stuck with me because I definitely respected that and felt like I needed to do that. She also introduced me to a lot of amazing producers that I learned a lot from as well, she’s great.
UrbanBridgez.com: You were selected as apart of our Top 10 to Watch out for in 2013 last year.
Sebastian Mikael: Wow, that’s amazing.
UrbanBridgez.com: And like we predicted a year later the buzz is extremely high for your debut release, what’s your overall goals for 2014?
Sebastian Mikael: Man, let’s see. Well the project obviously, I think that’s really going to make a stamp. Obviously as a new artist you have to show what makes you different and what makes you unique. I think the project is really going to do that, so that’s one of my goals and one of the things I really look forward to this year. I want to get on a tour and perform a lot more and stuff. You know just whatever comes along man, I’m always looking forward and trying to do better and make better music. Different collaborations I’m trying to make happen this year as well. Just really trying to evolve you know.
UrbanBridgez.com: Also, congrats on being apart of Essence Fest this year for their 20th Anniversary, that’s huge!
Sebastian Mikael: Thank you so much man, that’s another thing I’m looking forward to this year. It’s going to be crazy, that’s really going to be dope.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some artists that you’re inspired by or have inspired you?
Sebastian Mikael: Marvin Gaye, he’s been one of my biggest inspirations. Babyface is one of my biggest inspirations too. Lenny Kravitz, Michael Jackson, D’Angelo. Also, India.Arie, Pharrell Williams, Coldplay, Bob Marley I can’t forget he has definitely been one of my biggest inspirations. A lot of different genres, I’ve always listened to everything. I think that also explains why I never really wanted to have one sound, like everything is going to sound like this. Obviously I want to sound like myself and I believe that I have but I always wanted to try to find a way to still be versatile. Do different types of styles and elements. It’s so much out there and so much that I love.
UrbanBridgez.com: Well you’re doing a great job at it dude.
Sebastian Mikael: Thank you man!
UrbanBridgez.com: Outside of music, do you have any plans to branch out in other fields of entertainment?
Sebastian Mikael: I’ve been doing some modeling and things like that on the side and I want to get into acting as well.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words you want to leave with your fans?
Sebastian Mikael: I really appreciate all of the love and I’m very excited about this year. I really think they’re going to love the stuff that I put out, so I’m excited!
“Forever” will be featured on tonights episode of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop!