Yesterday, we got the chance to talk to Slip-N-Slide Records singer Sebastian Mikael, many of you may not know the name, but the Swedish/Ethiopian R&B singer is slowly making a name for himself this year, especially right now with his debut single, “Last Night” featuring Wale. We talked to Sebastian about his childhood growing up in Sweden, moving to the U.S. by himself after high school, his debut album, his new single featuring Wale, and much more.
Your background is pretty unique. I read that you’re originally from Sweden, and that you’re half Swedish, half Ethiopian. What was your childhood like growing up in Sweden?
Yeah. Funny enough, there’s alot of African/Swedish, kind of that mulatto mix, in Sweden. Growing up, I was introduced to both cultures at an early age. My mom was Ethiopian, so she definitely made sure I knew that culture especially, since we never lived there. I was born and raised Swedish. It was definitely a diverse household. I was introduced into a lot of different music and different things growing up. Sweden is definitely a cool country to grow up in.
So, growing up, who were some of your favorite artists to listen to?
Alot of the aritsts I listened to, I was introduced to by my mom and dad. My dad would just play something and be like, “Listen to this right now.” That was some of my early influences: alot of soul music and reggae. Artists like Marvin Gaye, Babyface, Sade, Bob Marley. Those are some of the main artists I grew up listening to.
Yeah definitely. And even today, I still listen to all of those artists. You know, obviously Michael Jackson was a big part of my growing up. At my age , Michael was a huge part of what we all listened to. You couldn’t escape that. I used my own interests to find out about other R&B because it wasn’t really in Sweden. They really were into pop music and rock, so we kind of had to look for ourselves.
Cool. So I know you moved from Sweden, to the U.S. for college. Talk a little bit about that transition, because that’s a huge move.
I think that obviously, it was scary, because I flew by myself right when I graduated high school. At that time, I felt like I really just wanted to do music. And I felt like here [Sweden], I didn’t really have the chance to express myself musically in the way I wanted to — R&B music. The first city I moved to was L.A. I went to college out there because I felt like, if you’re gonna do music, you have to be out there. And I had this whole idea of who I was going to be and it turned out totally different in the end. I really learned that, “Okay, I really gotta take time out and learn my craft — I can’t just go out there and become a star.”
It was definitely a big learning experience. There were alot of ups and downs — and I actually had stepped away from my artistry, I focused on production because it was so much competition, but I’m here now.
As far as you’re sound: I feel it’s definitely R&B based, but I hear alot of other influences as well. What would you describe the Sebastian Mikael sound to be?
Like you said, it’s definitely R&B based. It’s definitely rooted in soul music. Personally, there’s alot of other music I’m affected by — bands like Coldplay, and reggae music, other rock bands, and music I was introduced to in Sweden. I’ve always wanted to make music that was pure, so I wanted to infuse all the elements that I have. I never looked at it as “Okay, I do this type of music”, I always just wanted to make MUSIC.
Cool. So your debut single, “Last Night” featuring Wale is currently on iTunes. I’m loving that record by the way; I’m so glad that 90’s vibe is coming back. Tell us a little bit about how that song came about.
Thank you man. Funny enough, we weren’t planning on making that record to a single. We just thought it was fresh, and different from what is out there. It just gave me a chance to infuse something that I really love — that older R&B vibe — so when we first recorded it, we really loved it. And we were joking around saying “Yo, we should have a feature on this.” And I thought Wale would be perfect, not thinking it would ever be possible. And I heard Wale really loved the record, and I was just shocked. I was like “Wow!” you know, because I was already in love with the song, but that just made it like “Okay, this has to be the single.”
You actually just shot the video for “Last Night” too, right?
Yeah we did, that was awesome. It was actually my first time meeting Wale. He actually knocked out his verse in his studio and I did mine in my studio, so we hadn’t actually met. So when we met, it was dope because he was giving me some good advice on how to get it played and how to push it; he really stands by it and loves it. It was a pretty dope shoot.
Nice. So as far as the album, how is it coming along? Who are you working with?
It’s coming along really great. We’re in the latter stages of finishing it. We just going over it and making sure we’re on the right path. At this point, its really cool; we’ve picked out the direction of the songs and it’s really important I make the statements I want to make. As far as the main producers, I produced a few tracks on there. We also have Bigg D & Lamb, who produced “Last Night”, doing alot of records on the album, so it’s going to be really, really dope.
At the moment, there’s a lot of guys coming up in the R&B game (Luke James, Mateo, Elijah Blake, etc.). What separates you from the rest of the guys? What makes you special?
I think that — I really respect those guys and applaud them for what they do. But R&B is such a broad and open lane at the moment. I kinda just focus on doing stuff that I believe in, you know. I’m just happy there’s other artists to choose from in R&B at the moment because we didn’t have so many choices a few years back.
Definitely agree. So I have a few less serious questions before you go. This one is a scenario type question:
So you walk into a studio, and there’s 3 sessions already going. In Room A, you got Beyonce. In Room B, you got Jay-Z. And in Room C, you got Adele. Now you can pick ONLY ONE room to go in, but whichever you choose, you can do whatever you want (a feature, a duet, pen a song together, etc.). Who would you choose and why?
I would choose…Adele. I think they’re all dope, I would just choose Adele just because she does something so different from what I would do and it would be pretty interesting. I love her music. She’s incredible artists. I’ve been a fan since 19 album back when I lived in Sweden. I’ve always loved that jazzy, cool sound — I’ve always thought that she’s really real. So yeah, definitely Adele.
Plus I’m mean, it doesn’t hurt that her last album went something like 25X platinum.
Who’s on your wishlist of collaborators?
Man, I would really love to work on some stuff with Pharrell. That would be really crazy. Also, I’d like to collab with Drake. He’s always innovative with his sound so that’d be dope too. There’s so many others, but I just want them to be a natural collaboration, I want it to just happen.
Alright. So when you’re not in the studio or working, what does Sebastian Mikael like to do for fun.
I don’t wanna sound cliche or anything, but right now, it’s just music. Music takes up all my time; it’s everything. I love doing music so that’s pretty much all that I do. I don’t have one but maybe in the future I’ll pick up a hobby. But right now, it’s just music.
Recently, you did a little modelling with Goodale. And you seem like a pretty fashionable guy. So I was wondering what are some of your favorite brands to rock?
I like ACNE; I wear that brand a lot. Also, Nudie Jeans. I like those two brands a lot. Ummm, besides that I like to mix it up. I’ll get stuff from the thrift stores, but I also love high end brands and street brands as well. So yeah I’ll mix them all together.
Cool. Lastly, where do you see you’re career heading within the next 2 years?
I just wanna grow in every aspect. I wanna be on the road, on tour; having big shows. Performing as much as I can and just putting more music out there. That’s my main goal: to put my music out there and inspire.
All I can say is: I’m super thankful. I’m thankful I’m getting a great response from my single. And overall, I’m just happy that there are people are finally hearing my music and buying into. It’s really motivating to me.
iTunes Link for “Last Night”: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/last-night-feat.-wale-single/id679253752