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Miguel Talks Essence Fest, His Latin Roots, And Self-Care On The Road
Miguel is having a very busy summer, crisscrossing the country on his multi-city Ascension Tour. We caught up with GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter fresh off the stage at the Essence Festival, to chat about his latest album War & Leisure, connecting his music with his Latin roots, and his “self-care” routine on the road.
You just got off stage, how was the experience for you?
It was good. I [first] played this festival [in a super lounge] like five years ago. I'll never forget the energy and how excited I was to play, because I know how important it is. I think there's just a real love for black music here. Everybody shows up to really enjoy their favorite artist. Tonight, it felt kind of like homecoming. You know? [And I was on the] main stage this time. So, I got to think about the journey on the stage. It was fun.
Let's talk about your latest album, War & Leisure. There are sexy lyrics, dark lyrics, politically themed lyrics. What was your head space when writing the songs on that album?
You know I would describe my head space kind of in a bit of turmoil to be honest with you. I think that has a lot to do with just the general energy [of the world]. We're trying to figure out, how we stay positive, but not ignore what's going on [in the world]. That's why War & Leisure was the title, because we're all fighting to stay positive. It's a struggle every single day. Trying to find the balance.
For the first time in your career, there's a predominantly Spanish-language song on your album, "Caramelo Duro" featuring Kali Uchis. What was it that moved you to do that song?
I've had a chance to go visit my family in Mexico, and really kind of get in tune a little more with where my family's from. And the journey from Zamora, which is where my family's from in Mexico, and just really kind of like digest all of the sacrifice. Not only on my father's side, because my father's Mexican, but just overall. I think about the opportunities that I have now, and it really is a culmination of a lot of sacrifice. From my grandparents, their parents, and parents, and parents, and parents, and parents, and [now] here I am, at Essence Festival on the main stage. I have these moments to reflect on that. I think as I progress as just a human being, I want to be more in tune with where I come from. I think that gives me more to offer. The more I understand and really connect with that, and root myself in that, the more I can flourish and branch out. “Caramelo Duro” is like an example of fighting to really understand where I come from, and where my roots are. It's got a celebration in the music, in the sound of it.
How is it like working with Kali Uchis?
You know, we never got to get in the studio together. We met prior for a song that I, regretfully didn't have a chance to really add anything to, for her album. [But] she was really gracious in being like, "Yeah, I'm down to still do something for your album." So, yeah, that's kind of how it happened. We didn't really get to get in the studio. We met, but we didn't get to create together.
So you’ve had a busy touring schedule this season, how do you stay energized while you're on the road?
Sleep. You got to sleep. Self-care. All of that is so important. Especially as you start to realize the redundancy of touring. It gets real redundant, and that can wear you down over time. I think it's just about being aware of your body. It’s hard being on the road and eating right, [so] I try and eat plant-based. I also, feed my inspiration. I try [and] explore the places that I am, to be inspired by those places when it's time to create.