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Miguel’s Grammy is still in a box. The singer earned the statue last year for Best R&B Song for his single “Adorn,” off his 2012 album Kaleidoscope Dream, and he hasn’t quite figured out what do with it yet.
“I just moved and we’re still figuring the house out,” the singer tells The Hollywood Reporter before a performance at Levi’s private pre-Grammy party at the Fonda Theater on Wednesday night. “We had a funny argument about where to put accolades, and [my girlfriend]wants to put them right in plain sight as soon as you walk in. She wants lighting and shit. I’m like, ‘Naw, it’s not that serious.’ I’d rather put them underneath the coffee table or something.”
The singer is nominated twice again this year. “Power Trip,” a joint effort with J. Cole, is up for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and “How Many Drinks?,” a track off Kaleidoscope Dream that features Kendrick Lamar, is up for Best R&B Performance. Following his performance at the Levi’s party, which included renditions of several album cuts for a notably VIP crowd (Joe Jonas was spotted), Miguel will perform at Friday’s MusiCares event honoring Carole King and present at the Grammys on Sunday.
But mostly the singer just wants to get in the studio and stay there for as long as possible. He’s spent the past two weeks writing new material in LA and spent time in the studio with Cole and singer Jessie Ware. Miguel says he is collaborating on a song with Ware and Cole just happened to be downstairs.
It’s all part of his plan: Miguel’s next album is currently slated for release this fall via ByStorm/RCA, and he will spend the next month and a half writing and recording it. His wish list of collaborators includes Mos Def, Jack White and Kanye West (“I haven’t worked with Kanye yet,” he notes), as well as friends like Cole and Lamar. Although he’s still in the early stages of development, the music has come quickly so far.
“It was a little daunting because I wasn’t sure how rusty I’d be,” Miguel says. “I’d been collecting ideas and writing down concepts and phrases and all those things you hoard as you’re moving along, and that very first day in the first hour, we had something special. I think my spirit was ready to go and ride the wave, so to speak. I’ve been so focused on performing and making sure that what we do live is connecting. So now I’m just happy to be in a place where I can have solitude and just create freely.”
Performing live over the past year, including a stint on Drake’s headlining arena run, has had a big impact on Miguel’s songwriting. He sees this next release an opportunity to further expand on relating music to a live audience in a meaningful way.
“Touring off the first album was really interesting to feel and see how and when the music did or did not connect,” Miguel says. “I took a lot of time to figure it out. While creating Kaleidoscope Dream that was a huge factor in the sounds I chose. I would like to say this album picks up where Kaleidoscope Dream left off and pushes it further. It will be even more suited for live performance.”
Although Kaleidoscope Dream has yielded the artist with numerous accolades and sizeable attention, he sees its promotional process as a learning experience. “Adorn,” initially dropped in August of 2012, peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since gone platinum. It continues to receive notable radio airplay, even though other songs off the album were subsequently pushed as singles. For Miguel, it is essential that his next release has more balance.
“In retrospect, there were so many great songs that could have or should have been on radio that we never really got to do,” he says. “I think everyone was so stunned that ‘Adorn’ was so [successful] and it just kept going. We did what we were supposed to do with Kaleidoscope Dream, but I feel like it never got all the attention it should have from the variables that can help broadcast your art to the world. This time around, it’s about going back in and creating music that I love and creating that plan so that if things do happen, we have a right idea. There’s a range – it’s not just about a song.”
The singer is also equipped with a new manager. Earlier this month Troy Carter, formerly at the helm of Lady Gaga’s career, announced he’d signed Miguel and John Mayer to his management roster. Miguel officially partnered with Carter back in November after leaving Red Light Management. The singer has been quiet about his decision until now, but says the choice reflects his desire to equip himself with the “right tools” for the next phase of his career.
“I have no gripes with my former manager,” Miguel says. “To this day, that’s family to me. We’ve been in the trenches – really in the trenches – together. You come to new plateaus and sometimes the things you prepared yourself with might not be fitted for that next climb that you have to make. At that point, you have to look around and see, ‘What do I need to get to that next place?’ I think that’s what it’s about [with Troy]. At the end of the day, it’s very common for businesses to move in different directions, and as you move in different directions, the vision changes, and you have to find the people that will help bring the vision into fruition.”
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