Jean-Mikhael 'The Deal' (Acoustic)
Official Press Release
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
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‘I just wanted to give people a taste of my performance side. I feel like performance is very important and I want to be progressing and giving more each time. I like to showcase my ability to be a showman as much as my vocal abilities as well. There’s so much more I want to give, ideas to manifest, things I want to execute so hopefully this gives you a small idea about me and what’s to come.’ The HypeMagazine
4 months after his top-10 iTunes charting debut EP, Jean-Mikhael returns with acoustic versions of the originals. This release’s raison d’etre? In between sessions recording for his next EP, and reuniting with the cast of his childhood role — young Michael Jackson in London’s Thriller Live — JM found time for several appearances on radio (for both interviews and live acoustic performances) and was ready to crystallise these well-oiled remakes of his songs into recorded form to share with the world.
Combining soaring vocals and flamenco-influenced Spanish acoustic guitar from Mexican-born Rob Webb, these recordings show a clearer push in the pop direction for the newcomer. Anchored by Rob’s steady-yet-at-times-intricate playing, Jean-Mikhael is free to showcase his multi-octave range, especially on “Why You So Mad,” and the Prince-influenced “2 Time Thing,” which this time lands closer to Nashville than its origin in Minneapolis.
Releasing each track individually, he is allowing his growing fanbase time to digest each record for its unique fingerprint. “Senorita” features a host of cameos from the producers and instrumentalists that were in the session, layering hand claps, whoops and shouts, shifting the needle right into flamenco. After a hypnotic, drum-like start, “Every Little Thing”s beautiful vocal melodies are performed over alternately driving chords and lightly-picked arpeggios, and the visual, shot by London’s Red Monstar, is the perfect between-seasons tonic, juxtaposing winter-wear and autumn leaves against the lush green of the lake-side location. On “Deal,” Jean-Mikhael passionately asks his partner to "tell him what's the deal" between them, over blues-influenced guitar.
Every now and then one can hear the human touches in these recordings, like a word mentioned to end the session, or an encouragement for a better performance.
A recent 2-day pre-run of his upcoming UK school and university tour saw his Spotify streams jump 1000% and his Instagram following up by 20%, and excitement is building for his 6 weeks on the road to support his second EP release in April. After a half-year that saw him headline People’s Day festival, 2 Sofar London shows, and additionally The Ned Music Mondays (supported by a full band), the anglo-franco BRIT School graduate’s star is surely rising.
Quote from the artist on the EP: “I think putting together an acoustic version of my EP ‘The Deal’ was a way of me giving a little bit more insight into what the meaning of my songs were. Making listeners really hear what I’m saying with a raw emotion coming through. Lauryn Hill was my main inspiration behind the acoustic EP. She has an unplugged album of her performing to an intimate crowd and that’s what I wanted people to feel. Like I was performing to them individually, hearing the background sounds like the studio door, the guitar strings just ending. All these small, intricate bits that make it a little bit more inviting and special. It just shows another side of me.”
Growing up in Hammersmith, West London, Jean-Mikhael was plunged into a family bursting with creativity. His Grenadian-born mother worked as Boney M’s hair stylist back in the day and passed on the tales of JM’s late grandad - a saxophonist who played in Chicago’s live music scene - to the rest of the family. His dad, who lives in France, was also musical, and from day one he was surrounded by relatives mastering everything from making ballet shoes to playing the accordion. “Everything was creative,” he explains, “and I took it on and ran with it.”
The singer’s first real encounter with performing took place in the most intimidating of spheres: the West End. As a kid, he was cast as the young Michael Jackson in the Thriller musical, and while “theatre wasn’t the first route I wanted to go into,” he learned a great deal about the qualities that ultimately make a superstar. “I was able to experience being a performer, but it was a bit like being him as well,” he explains.
It’s a lesson Jean-Mikhael has carried with him to the present day. As well as taking influence from Michael Jackson - whose shoes he occupied for 8 months as a young actor - he continually finds himself looking to Prince, Beyonce, and TLC; all formidable artistic powerhouses who command stages with the sheer force of their personalities, express themselves with bold fashion, and who refuse to be contained within boxes. “Everything has to be a show,” he says. “As an artist, image is everything.”
Despite being offered a record deal back in his mid teens, the singer instead decided to focus on honing his craft alone, armed with the realisation that having complete control over his artistry was the more important than finding short term successes. Instead of signing away his creative freedom in the first contract he was offered, he signed up for BRIT school instead, where he filled his mind with possibilities. “Be the one who owns everything you’re doing,” is his motto. “When I write, it’s always about empowerment, and not allowing people to talk down and insult you. I remember record labels used to say I was too glossy, that I should change,” he adds. “Dulling myself down worked for a bit, but I didn’t feel comfortable. If you only follow others, you just won’t succeed.”
Biding his time has paid off, and now, glossier than ever, JM finds himself in a place of total creative freedom.
Source OTOD Records
February 28, 2019 4:00am ET by OTOD Records