Falling in love with music from the age of 5 whilst growing up in a creative household, R&B-Pop artist Jean-Mikhael emerged onto the scene back in 2018 with his debut EP ‘The Deal’. The 5-track collection about boundless expression landed #8 on iTunes R&B/Soul Chart and was the catalyst for his breakthrough on the music scene as he graciously fused old school soul with an R&B/pop flavour.
Having graduated from the BRIT school and performed in London’s West End production of ‘Thriller LIVE’ as the young Michael Jackson, Jean-Mikhael’s showman tendencies continue to play a central role within all aspects of his music.
Inspired by the formidable greats such as Prince and Grace Jones, ‘Neighbours are Calling’ is the newest edition to his sonic collection. It details the intimacies of a tempestuous relationship of intense emotion and physical connection.
Speaking on the track, Jean-Mikhael explains;
“Neighbours are calling” is a true story... It is also about me meeting someone and us both being connected so deeply from the beginning… [W]e were always just trying to live in the moment and relive the day we saw each other for the first time.
Projext Liquid chats with Jean-Mikhael to talk about his latest visuals, the past year, fashion inspiration and more.
Listen to 'Neighbours Are Calling' below
So, who is Jean-Mikhael?
I am a singer/song writer from West London. I don’t like to put my sound in a box but it’s very different and expressive with an alternative 80’s vibe.
Was music something you’ve always wanted to get into?
I’ve always sung from the age of 5 but the moment I knew I wanted to get into music was when I played Michael Jackson in the West End for Thriller LIVE. Being able to perform a role that was so big and the showmanship of it all, really opened my eyes of wanting to be an artist and do my own thing, you really had to bring your A game.
Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to creating music?
My biggest inspiration is Prince, from his sound people can hear that a lot in my vocals. Alisha Keys, Michael and Beyoncé too, but also from life experiences. Sometimes I write songs from things I’ve gone through and even things my friends have experienced. I also think just living life gives you inspiration, as an artist sometimes you forget to live and once that part goes you don’t have anything to really talk about.
How have you stayed creative during the pandemic?
I love fashion and kind of got into it a lot more during the first lockdown. My stylist and I spent a lot of time rearranging and re-vamping items from my closet and even did a small article on that talking about the process. I also did a lot of writing, prepping for new music, I didn’t put anything out last year so ‘Neighbours are Calling’ is my first single release after about a year and a bit.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
I always look back at the old school stuff with Prince and Michael. I try to go for different eras as well and just infuse it all together. Sometimes I don’t really like following what everyone else is doing because it gets boring, I like to just have fun with it. I think the best thing to do is trial and error, have fun in your house and play around with it.
If you weren’t pursing music, what would you be doing?
I’m trying to get into dentistry at the moment, I’ve always wanted to go to uni but didn’t know what I wanted to do. People suggested to study music, but I thought it would be better to study something I’m not already doing and make use out of it. I’ve always been fixated on teeth so it’s something I’ve been prepping for at the moment.
If you could pick any song that you have written or released since the start of your music journey to introduce yourself to the world, what song would that be and why?
“2 Time Thing”, It’s a song that I just put out there and got my first ever deal from. Again, it’s very nostalgic and straight away sets me apart from everyone else because no one is doing that especially in the UK.
Name a collab that you would love to do
Pharrell, he has a really good ear for things that people don’t pick up on and is really selective in terms of how songs come together. I don’t want the song to be boring, I want to keep people on a journey and excite them. Jay-Z because he freestyles his raps, he doesn’t write them, and I would love to see what that process is like.
How do you feel coming out of lockdown and performing live again?
It’s a bit nerve-racking, I’m known for putting on a good show, obviously not performing for a while you kind of feel like you’re out of it for a bit and there’s so much that goes into it in terms of rehearsing, getting yourself back into it, but it’s all good. I’m excited to get back out, especially with all the new stuff I’m recording it would be great to perform.
What was the creative process like when filming for ‘Neighbours are calling’?
I actually wrote that song in 2019. When I recorded the song I kind of had the visuals in my head. I sat down with my manager Kem and we went through the whole song, the meaning of it, which is the neighbours are actually hearing you. It’s kind of like a sultry song. I wanted it to have an old school vibe because the song already has a nostalgic feel to it which I wanted to get across the video like the 90s and 2000s. I sat down with the directors on the phone and spoke about what I wanted, the ideas I had. I think it’s very important to have your own input otherwise it doesn’t come out authentic and everyone can tell.
What’s the best part of being an artist for you?
I guess creating and being able to have your own ideas and putting it out there. It’s kind of like your baby but that’s probably the most fun part, and performing, I love performing a lot.
What kind of advice would you give anyone that wants to get into the music industry but doesn’t know how to?
The first thing would be to find a good producer you can work with, make lots of music, play around with sounds. It’s like an investment, you have to take that into mind because a lot of people feel like it’s all free when they start. I would say trial and error with songs, play around with it and hopefully with that find a person you feel comfortable to manage you unless you want to manage yourself. I think being an artist and having someone that can take on all those emails, deal with all those extra bits helps you to not lose the creativity side of it, because already as an artist you have social media that you have to focus on.
How do you deal with not wanting to be on social media as an artist?
You just have to do it! I guess part of it is planning, feeling like what you want to post connects with you. When you get into it you start enjoying it a little bit more, but if it’s not for you, you just have to go for it and try it out.
What’s something you wish you knew before you became an artist?
That people are very unreliable!
What’s next for you?
I have two singles coming, the song I’m recording right now is going to be my next single release, again it’s got an 80s feel, a bit more ballad-y and slower than “Neighbours are Calling” so I’m excited for everyone to hear it. My next EP release will hopefully be out next year, “Boys Cry Too”, it’s just me being a bit more vulnerable and showing there’s a side that people don’t always see.