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I would fuck the curl pattern out this man

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@miguel and @danielsannwald Break Down the Spacey, Neon Album Art of “Wildheart”

To see more of Miguel and Daniel Sannwald’s photos, check out @miguel and @danielsannwald on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

“In the Bible, it says we’re created in God’s image and we are gods ourselves. The empowerment of knowing and trusting yourself and your intuition, you do feel very powerful — not in an egotistical way but in a free way. For a wildheart, knowing what they want, knowing what they believe in, what they stand for, is a very empowering thing because when you do that, you free yourself from the opinions of others. You trust yourself more and your instincts are wilder.”

That’s how Miguel (@miguel) describes the message behind the cover for his excellent new album Wildheart, a striking image that features him shirtless, holding a nude woman, surrounded by stars and clouds.

The vibe — with all its blues, pinks, purples and blacks – captures the R&B singer’s ambitiously psychedelic and lustful third record, which he says is a culmination of realizing his potential as an artist and a person. “I’m aware that I have an audience and responsibility to give them something more than just music — belief in themselves, understanding that no one’s path is the same and accepting that and celebrating that,” says the 29-year-old California native.

While working on the follow-up to his 2012 breakout Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel moved back to his hometown of Los Angeles, finding inspiration in the familiar terrain as well as the sights and sounds of the city, especially as day turned to night. “Twilight was a huge inspiration,” he says. “It’s all of the beauty, all of the hope and all of the desperation, all at the same time. Once the sun is gone, it’s light enough for you to see the beauty and dark enough for trouble.”

That atmosphere blends into the Wildheart cover as well as the art for lead single “Coffee,” which features Miguel in suggestively ripped up denim, lounging on pitch-black, lava-looking rocks. That and the other album images — including shots of Miguel shirtless and submerged in water – were created with German photographer Daniel Sannwald (@danielsannwald), who just happened to be listening to Miguel’s “Adorn” on repeat the day before management contacted him for a meeting. Daniel later met Miguel at a London bar where the two talked for hours, feeling out each other’s energies as opposed to nailing down any specific concepts.

“He’s such a sweet and open-minded person, so it’s really easy to connect with him,” says Daniel. “They kind of divided the record into different drug experiences, like an LSD trip to an ecstasy trip to a cocaine trip, so I think they reached out to different people to start the vision of what would suit that kind of visual experience. I was LSD. I love anything psychedelic, I love colors, I love to create unexpected worlds.”

Daniel first heard some of the album, which he said sounded “very sexual,” and immediately pictured “skin, something sweaty” for the cover. The two discussed old album covers and magazines, with the singer and his team giving a specific instruction: “We [need] something very retro but take it into the future.” With that in mind, Daniel used flash, reflected lights and a bit of gloss to highlight Miguel’s complexion and toned physique at the one-day shoot in London. “We had a lot of highlights on his skin, something very moody, something that feels sexual — morning light, maybe, just like the day is starting to begin.” And in case you’re wondering how Miguel looks so good in the photos, Daniel has the inside scoop: “He had a trainer on set, which I was really impressed by. Between every shot they would work out a little bit to make sure everything looked as good as possible. And he didn’t eat the whole day — almost nothing.” They also had two fitness models, who they found on Instagram (@dearbambi and @katyaelisehenry), to sprawl out on the set’s black rocks and pose as the women in the clouds for the Wildheart cover.

Overall, the artwork taps back into the album’s vision and message: to reassure yourself and your purpose. “The aha moment was really ‘I have this to say and this is how I’m going to say it,’” says Miguel. “Wildheart is about knowing yourself and knowing your path and living it. That’s what’s important.”

– Dan Reilly for Instagram @music