With five nods, including Song of the Year for his romantic “Adorn,” the R&B star, 26, is feeling the love
HOW DID YOU CELEBRATE YOUR NOMINATIONS?
I got whiskey’d up with my team. We’d had a show in New York and then went to dinner and got the news. It was surreal. I was in calm disbelief.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT COME GRAMMY NIGHT?
The last awards show I was at was the Soul Train Awards [in November], and sitting across from Bill Withers, finding out that he knew my music—even song titles—it’s those moments I look forward to. Also running into friends like Usher, Wale, Big Sean and 2 Chainz.
GOT A DATE LINED UP YET?
My girlfriend [singer-actress Nazanin Mandi], who has been there with me for a large chunk of this tremendous journey—seven years. But I don’t like to just call her my “girlfriend”—we’ve been together for too long. That’s my lady.
SO WAS SHE THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR HIT “ADORN”?
Yes. I had been on a long trip and was anxious to see her. That’s where the song began, with that emotion while I was on the plane. I don’t remember how I got from “These lips can’t wait to taste your skin” to the end of the song, but when I listened to it, I thought, “This is special.”
WHAT SONG CAN’T YOU GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW?
That damn Bruno Mars song “Locked Out of Heaven” keeps popping up. It’s a great, great song. Also [rapper] Trinidad James’s “All Gold Everything.” I’ve also been listening to Grizzly Bear’s Shields and Coldplay, going back and studying their whole vibe.
YOUR OWN NEW ALBUM KALEIDOSCOPE DREAM HAS SOME VERY RACY LYRICS. WERE YOU EVER EMBARRASSED TO PLAY IT IN FRONT OF FAMILY MEMBERS?
Not at all. There are very sex-driven moments on the album, but it’s not overbearing. I think it’s balanced with other elements. Even though sex is a part of my life, it’s important to highlight the other 95 percent.
WHICH OTHER ONE-NAME ACTS DO YOU LOVE?
Oh man! Sting, Björk, Madonna, Prince. I wanted to use my first and middle names, Miguel Jontel; then I was convinced Miguel was stronger.