Miguel by Michael Flores for Paper Magazine June 2013

Shirt by Marc by Marc Jacobs, T-shirt by The Quality Mending Co., pants by Alexander McQueen, shoes by Saint Laurent with customized silver heels, bracelets by The Great Frog and Shayan Afshar.

 

T-shirt by The Quality Mending Co., pants by Alexander McQueen, sunglasses by Versace, bracelets by The Great Frog and Shayan Afshar.

Born Miguel Jontel Pimentel to an African-American mother and a Mexican father in the Southern California harbor town of San Pedro, he says reading the book The Four Agreements, by spiritualist Mexican author don Miguel Ruiz, was a turning point. Ruiz’s theory is that most of our emotional struggles come from beliefs about ourselves that were assigned to us by our parents, our peers or society. Miguel says the book made it easier for him to question what he “should” sound like or look like, even if it confounded record label marketing execs. “The book was super pivotal for me,” Miguel says. “It’s so simple that it’s profound.”

He decided to go grass roots. Taking cues from hip-hop mixtape culture and the indie DIY tradition, he self-released a three-EP series called Art Dealer Chic, unveiling some of the music that would later be featured on Kaleidoscope Dream, including “Adorn,” which he recorded in his bedroom. “If you look at art dealers historically, they were kind of in control of what was making an impact culturally,” he says about the project. “This was my own anti-establishment way of saying, ‘F*ck you, I am my own business. I decide what is good and what is not,’” he says. “I wanted to reconnect to my peers, the people that I hang out with, the ones that go to the same bars, listen to the same music, look at the same blogs, will be at that art gallery, will be at that show. Those people, the ones that I wasn’t touching before, finally I had their attention.” The EP series, the second batch of which will start coming out in July, did help him connect with the indie set, who were, lucky for him, high on other avant-R&B artists like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd at the time. Art Dealer Chic also scored Miguel the brass ring of the indie industry — a positive review on Pitchfork. “It’s like a love-hate relationship,” he says of the music journalists who have both exalted him and dismissed him as R&B schlock. “It’s like they’re kind of f*cking with me, but kind of not.” (Pitchfork’s review of Kaleidoscope Dream coolly called Miguel’s lyrics “the stuff of unbearable rom-com montages,” though the album scored a rating of 8.4 out of 10.)”

Read more here.
Miguel by Michael Flores for Paper Magazine June 2013.
Images: Paper Magazine

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