Musician and performer Mychael Gabriel‘s background in music is rich with vivid detail. Gabriel is the musical collaborator and lead guitarist for the legendary percussionist, Sheila E, in addition to being the godson of Sheila E and Prince. Gabriel has recently released his solo single and music video with “Ghost In The Midnight,” featuring the singer in a variety of outfits, masquerading as an 80s pin-up, a Day-Glo monk, a dandy, a superhero, and many more.
Gabriel’s music is rooted in the Minneapolis Sound, due to his upbringing and being immersed in the Minneapolis music scene and Paisley Park. “Ghost In The Midnight” is reflective of his eclectic and unique style. In our interview with Gabriel, he speaks about the influence of Prince and Sheila E. on his music, the inspiration behind his musical style, the aesthetics for his latest music video, and his fun music favorites.
How have Sheila E. and Prince shaped you into the musician you are today?
Being a child of the 80’s, living in MPLS, and my parents being associated with Sheila E., Prince, and Paisley Park, definitely had an impact on my perspective of music as art, and the importance of performance as entertainment. Having worked with Sheila E. as her engineer, collaborator, and lead guitarist over the last 15 years, has allowed me to actually “do” as a profession what my education and life experience has taught me.
When did you know that you wanted to be a musician and performer?
Actually, I consider myself a song writer and producer first. My abilities and education in guitar and my Degree in Audio Engineering allow me to expand my boundaries into music performance. In retrospect, music has just always been a part of who I am as a person. Like many artists, you jump on that train and see where it takes you. For me, at this time, my focus is on releasing music and performing.
I love your eclectic style. Can you share some of your inspiration behind your magnetic style?
Why, thank you. The music and lyrics of my songs propagates everything; the style, imagery, and story-line. With that said, the look will be eclectic because the catalog of music will be eclectic. We as humans can be simple creatures with complex thoughts or complex creatures with simple thoughts. Our thoughts, needs and wants, change as we learn and grow. I think music is a reflection of that. I think as a writer and musician my goal is to express feeling, through music and style.
For your music video “Ghost In The Midnight,” you masquerade as an 80s pin-up, Day-Glo monk, a superhero and more. What was the collaboration like with the video?
The song speaks of two things, Relationship and Nostalgia. These are two aspects of everyone’s life that are relatable. The video is meant to be a reminder of things from my childhood, teens, and adulthood. A reflection of those memories that make me who I am. In coming up with the concept and promotional ideas, it was fun to talk about those things that were of the past. Sometimes they come like whispers, or a breeze. With “Ghost in the Midnight” those memories manifested in to song and imagery.
What’s your songwriting and recording process like?
A blessing and a curse (joking). But seriously, I guess in some ways, I would say, my process is fluid and continuous. Sometimes it starts with a recording I eagerly hummed into my phone, other times it starts with an instrument, or maybe something I heard in a dream. As a writer, every experience could inspire a thought, lyric, or song. As a musician, it allows me to communicate those things through my instruments or my voice. As an engineer and producer I’m able to record, edit, mix, explore, and expound on those writings without having to rely on anyone else’s availability or schedule. Oftentimes regrettably, I’m a perfectionist…so this makes for many long days and sleepless nights. However, over time I’ve found the perfection is in the imperfections. When all is said and done, this feels as if it is what I was meant to do. I couldn’t imagine not doing it.
What kind of creative satisfaction do you get from being a solo performer and being in a band?
I kind of look at it this way:
As a solo performer, this is what I have to say and this is how I want to say it. Do you hear ME. DO you understand what I’M trying to say? Are we ONE?
In a band, I’m there to support someone else who has something to say, in the way they want to say it. Do you hear THEM and understand what THEY’RE trying to say. Are we all TOGETHER?
If the audience is responding to what I or the band is doing, then satisfaction is guaranteed.
Is an album or another single on the horizon?
As a writer I write and as a musician I play. I have so much I want to share and say. As long as there are ears to hear, there will be continuous singles and albums on the way.
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite so far?
Prince and Prince.
What was your first album on CD and/or vinyl?
As a kid… The first album I sought out and bought on my own was Slashes Snakepit It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere. My older cousin was the first to introduce me to Slash – who was an early inspiration in my pursuit as a guitarist.
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Way too many to choose and too hard to narrow down!
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Movie scores, Disney soundtracks, and MCU movie freak right here.