interview | sebastian mikael

rosary. VEERT
trousers. Landeros
shoes. Bobby Day

Sebastian Mikael is no stranger to creative fluidity. From when he first entered the music industry, Mikael has stayed true to his chameleonic personality. “A lot of us when we start off, we don’t really know who we are as artists. It takes a little bit for you to find your sound and really mould into the artist that you are.” The futuristic soul-funk singer chats with Schön! about his creative evolution, overcoming fear and the beauty in being an independent artist.

The Swedish-born, US-raised singer shares that pursuing music has always been his goal. “I was dreaming about being an artist and doing music full-time but it started with me putting out videos on YouTube and performing in different places,” he says. For Mikael, the creative journey has been anything but linear. “A lot of artists, by the time they come out, they’ve already gone through their [creative] development to find their sound. The difference with me was that I was thrown out there. People that knew about me from when I first came out have seen me grow and develop into who I am now or what I’m doing now,” he adds.

sunglasses. Chris Port NY
jacket. Landeros
rosary. VEERT

For many artists, fear is an emotion that can either propel or hinder creative development. In the beginning, Mikael faced his own battle with self doubt. “I didn’t feel like I was musically inclined enough to pull off what I really wanted to make,” Mikael tells Schön! “I was doing things under a different name. I was in a production duo. I was just trying different things.” Once he switched perspective, he settled into his role as a solo artist. “The hardest thing to overcome is fear. A lot of my own fear came from dropping out of school to pursue music full time. Overtime I realised that no one is fully fearless. It starts with you. You have to create your own work and really create that momentum for yourself.”

sunglasses. Chris Port NY
jacket + trousers. Landeros

The singer is a champion of staying true to himself. After being in the industry for ten years, he confesses that “one of the biggest lessons I learned was to be yourself and to not feel like you have to put on something or that you have to entertain. A lot of the time, especially with social media, we feel like there can only be one kind of personality. That an artist should act or behave in a certain way. I learned that all that stuff is just a fabrication,” he says. “I’m not going to put the blame on labels but I feel like a lot of labels think it’s easier to work with artists who look and sound the same. But that dynamic is changing. Nowadays people want to see your authenticity and get to know you. And if they fuck with you, they fuck with you.”

rosary. VEERT
trousers. Landeros
shoes. Bobby Day

The rise of social media has afforded musicians a platform to cultivate their own identity on their own terms. Arguably, there has never been a better time to be an independent artist. “We have the resources that we need and we don’t really need labels to do certain things for us at the moment.” Despite the challenges that come with autonomy, Mikael revels in having complete creative control. “I don’t have to check in or get [my music] approved by seven different people at a label. Things like that feel really good,” he shares. “A lot of the time when you’re signed, you feel the pressure to be super marketable. You have to go with something that’s more familiar with people but the stuff I want to do is a little more left and different. Now I can go for whatever it is that I want to do.”

jacket + knit. Teddy Vonranson

Sonically, Mikael’s draws inspiration from legends like Pharrell, Marvin Gaye, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Lenny Kravitz. Mikael’s latest EP PHILEO is a delicate ode to “having a lifestyle of love,” he says. “PHILEO to me is like sisterly or brotherly love that you have for your peers, or your family, but mostly your friends. It’s still a deep love that you have but it’s not romantic love. It’s more fundamental.” The six-track project compiles futuristic jazz and soul inspired tracks that give listeners an uplifting and euphoric experience. “I want the music to feel timeless and for it to just stand the test of time. I want it to be something that people can connect to lyrically,” says Mikael. “That’s the reason why I always want to be honest and authentic in my music.”

While his fans continue to enjoy PHILEO, the experimental artists reveals that he is “definitely working on new music. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with African music from the 70s, especially Ethiopian jazz and funk music from the 70s.” We can’t wait to hear what his next musical era has to offer.

trousers. Bobby Day

Sebastian Mikael‘s EP ‘PHILEO’ is out now.

This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by

photography. Sage East 
fashion + creative direction. Paco Lampecinado 
talent. Sebastian Mikael
photography assistant. Rob Perea
words. Shivani Somaiya

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