[With his recently released Wildheart album still in steady rotation, R&B singer Miguel tells SOHH his approach to songwriting.]
I think my method has always been just write what is true. And truth is often simple. It’s simple. I don’t know how to explain what truth is. But we all know what I mean when a truth is just very simple. It’s cut-and-dried. And that for me is what has worked the most, is just being true to your emotion and not editing, or watering it down to make it more palatable or anything like that. I think your taste should inform the creativity.
But other than that it’s also studying the music that you love, just really, really taking your time to understand why something connects, why this melody connects, or what’s the point of the repetition of this melody, or even little things like the way vowels are pronounced can change the way songs feel, or a word feels, or a phrase feels.
So, there are so many intricacies that I think when it comes down to it. The best songs of all time to me were songs that took a really powerful idea, or resonating idea, and explained it in a way that was simple, and clever, and understandable by children and older people.
When Stevie Wonder says, “As around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving, and the rosebuds know to bloom in early May, just as hate knows love’s the cure, we can rest our mind assure that I’ll be loving you always.” That is vivid and simple. A kid can understand that. I think that’s a great example of a perfect songwriter. He writes good ideas and, clever, simple explanations, and great melodies.