If you haven’t heard of Sebastian Mikael until now, there are a number of plausible explanations. The twenty four year old rising star has only recently come to the United States from his native Sweden. He made his grand entrance onto the American R&B scene in 2013, just months after signing with Slip-N-Slide Records. The satin-voiced crooner treated listeners to a smoldering acoustic rendition of his first single Last Night during a recent appearance on Columbus, Ohio’s Power 107.5.
Mikael is currently touring the Midwest, promoting his widely anticipated debut album Speechless, which is due to be released in November of this year. He took a few moments out from performing to chat with examiner.com.
A little about yourself and how you got into music
I grew up in Sweden with a Swedish mother and an Ethiopian father. During that time, I listened to the radio a lot and started to mimic the sounds with my voice and my guitar. I came here six years ago to study music. I studied audio engineering at Musician’s Institute in California and then went on to Berklee College of Music, where I released my first mix tape J’Adore. I eventually put out a YouTube video called A Beautiful Life, which led to my signing with Slip-N-Slide Records.
A Beautiful Life was recorded in your dorm room?
Yes. I used to record everything in my dorm room. Not everything got out and got solid, but that is a very stripped down song…very simple and pure. I just wrote it and decided to roll with it.
As a kid, I listened to a lot of music with my parents, all different genres – Bob Marley, Shade, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Baby Face. I just started playing my guitar and singing, and by the time I started really making my own music, they were very much a part of me and they still influence my work.
Your new single – Last Night
Making this song was a breath of fresh air for me. I wanted to try something that didn’t sound like everything else out there. Style wise, it has a throwback, very soulful, smooth R&B sound. We added something very current to it by using trap drums to infuse it with a hip-hop element. When we mixed those things together it created an interesting contrast. It feels good to be able to take something old and give it a new twist.
On Working with Wale
He heard the record and hit us back right away. His version came to us seven hours later, and it was a smash. He said, “This song is dope.” The fact that he heard it and wanted to be part of it was very exciting for me. It’s crazy.
On flash performances and promoting your work
It’s a great feeling to be able to surprise people and just start playing. It is so much fun. I just love to see peoples’ reactions. It’s so chill and intimate. You can reach out and talk to people and make those real connections.
Guilty pleasures while on the road
Hennessey and Popeye’s Chicken.
Something most people don't know about you
I do a really good Jay Z impression.
Your upcoming album
We are working on an album. It’s slowly coming together. We will put out an EP in November and the album, Speechless, will come out top of next year. I wanted to really take my time with this and put out a good body of work so I’m just giving it time to grow.
Follow Sebastian Mikeal on Twitter @ twitter.com/sebastianmikael or visit his website at www.sebastianmikael.com