Grammy Award-winning LA singer-songwriter Miguel, 29, is climaxing. Embarking on a world tour behind his third album, Wildheart, he has achieved this current peak by extending his sound beyond the expectations of modern R&B, something he mastered with slick, catchy, early singles “All I Want Is You,” “Sure Thing” and “Quickie.”
But even though he followed up with the acclaimed Kaleidoscope Dream featuring the intoxicatingly smooth, ubiquitous hit “Adorn,” it was clear Miguel always was something apart from the familiar R&B loverman mold. He made sure we all knew it with Wildheart, which drifts hazily through funk, soul and rock rhythms, always sounding reassuringly like only himself. It’s clear he’s a musician with a vision, as obvious as knowing this won’t be the only climax.
How has the tour been going so far? It’s been insane. This is really my first time out on my own, but this is the way it should be. You really get to stretch. And I think people are leaving feeling like they’ve experienced something that’s bigger than music.
Last time you performed here it was opening for Drake at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Now you’re playing Drai’s, the club on top of the Cromwell. What kind of show can Vegas expect this time? It’s going to be my show. When we play, we f*cking riot. It’s going to be a wild and fun and sexy show, and with bottle service, too, I can only imagine how that’s going to up the ante.
You grew up in LA. What has your Vegas experience been before now? I’ve been to Vegas so many times I can’t even count, and it’s always a blur. I can never stay longer than two days, because that first night ends up carrying into the next day. Then that second night, you’re trying to rally and getting everyone to rally with you, so by the third day it’s time to get the f*ck out of here. You party your whole energy out. It’s always nonstop.
Wildheart is so propulsive, it almost feels like a live album. What was the recording process like for this record? A lot of it wrote itself and some came in time. Being in LA really informed the sound of the album and I think contributed to that cohesiveness because I was just in the middle of a vibe. There’s definitely an energy to Los Angeles, and that’s what I wanted to capture.
You got a whole lot of critics and writers talking about how you’re moving away from R&B with this sound. What do you make of that reaction? I’m an artist. I was put on this earth in this dimension to express myself, and that doesn’t have any title to it. Critics use genres to help identify or relate a sound to an audience, but that has nothing to do with the creative process, and it shouldn’t. I would be limiting myself if I tried to create within certain boundaries or didn’t explore beyond those, so it would be a disservice to take those comments to heart. There’s always going to be a layer of soul in my music, because that’s just who I am, but I’m in love with rock ’n’ roll, too, and that’ll be there, and I’ll always explore beyond those. I don’t take it to heart. And for the most part, most critics have been positive about that, saying it’s not really R&B, it’s something else, which is cool.
Maybe that genre is not as interesting or as diverse as it once was, so it’s natural to kind of claim somebody like you as an ambassador. I think you’re right. I grew up in that era when R&B was a premium genre. It was bigger than hip-hop. And I watched hip-hop consume R&B, so I know where that longing comes from. I think there there’s also a way of satisfying that craving without compromising my artistry, and I think I’m doing that and that’s why they want to make me an ambassador.
Your music and particularly this album seems to be reaching across and connecting with people that aren’t necessarily R&B or soul or hip-hop fans, including younger people. It’s cool to hear that, thank you. It’s funny how stereotypes with R&B really run deep, but it’s really cool when people step outside their expectations to discover something. Sometimes it takes a nudge.
So it’s going to be a riot at Drai’s? People should come to my shows ready to riot and ready to party but also really feeling clear that as much of a party as it is, there’s also something very spiritual that holds the entire show together. It has to do with you are and what you stand for, and that’s what Wildheart is about.
Miguel August 28, 10:30 p.m., $30+ women, $60+ men. Drai’s Nightclub, 702-605-4000.