Dwele Interview

– Dwele back in Amsterdam. How do you feel?
I feel good, it’s been a long time.

– How long has it been?
Uhm, it’s been 2, 3 years, maybe 4?

– Why has it been that long? You don’t like Amsterdam?
Haha you tell me. Maybe it’s because every time I come here, I gotta take some time afterwards to recover.

– You should make Amsterdam the last stop of your tour haha.
Yeah, unfortunately this isn’t the last stop. But I am still partying. I got the day off tomorrow so it’s going down. We are staying here for a day.

– There are still people out here that don’t know Dwele. In short, who is Dwele?
I am a guy that tries to play every instrument I can get my hands on. Give me a ukulele and an accordion and I can make soul out of it. My music is basically a mixture of hiphop, soul, jazz, those are the elements that I grew up on. That’s part of me when it comes down to producing and writing. I started off as a rhymer, sometimes it comes across in my delivery.

– Why did you start with rhyming?
That’s what everybody was doing, that’s what all my people were doing.

– So you were a follower?
Not necessarily a follower but I was on the production side, so I figured why not try my thing around it too. I tried it, I enjoyed it, so I did it.

– How did you come up with singing?
The singing thing happened pretty much around ’97-’98 when I put out The Rize album. People were telling me “Oh you sing too? You should do more vocal songs. That’s hot.”

– They liked your singing better than the rhyming?
That might have been the case, and putting it a nice way of saying it haha. I don’t know, it was cool, they were liking it so I did more of it.

– Subject was released in 2003, but before that happened, you had built up a lot already by working with people such as Bahamadia, J. Dilla, Slum Village etc. How did it feel to finally release your debut album?
From 2000 til I got signed in 2003, it was hard for me cause I didn’t know what was going on. I was just sitting and I was thinking to myself, did I make the right decision? It was rough for me, but once Subject came out it was cool. I still got a long way to go.

– But I want you to describe the feeling of finally putting out your own stuff, after you’ve been doing so much with other people. Basically helping out other people, jumping on their projects. You didn’t have your own thing yet. How did it make you feel?
It was less of putting my own thing together cause I had been doing my own thing since forever. It was more so of finally it being out there. Outside of Detroit. Outside of the States. And actually getting notice on the streets because of a video. It was crazy, it was weird, it was different. It felt good you know! It felt good. It still feels good when I get the chance to do that, when I get the chance to put something new out. It’s a little bit of anxiety too, you never know how people are gonna feel about the project but it’s been good.

– Did you ever think people weren’t gonna feel it?
I mean you never know.

– But you already had good feedback on your other projects.
True, but that’s a feature, like “Oh ok this feature is cool.” This time it’s me. It’s me on the production, it’s me on the lyrics, it’s me on the vocals.

– Some Kinda was released in 2005. How much did that album differ from your debut, in your opinion?
Between Subject and Some Kinda, Subject was an album I had worked on for over years cause I was sitting a while. It was a collaboration of a lot of different songs. Some Kinda was made after I was coming off the road. When you come off the road, you really gotta settle yourself down and get into production mode, get into writing mode and get away from performance mode, away from the band and constructing the show. So it took a little longer for me to sit down and get into my round. But when I did finally get there, I felt like I was more in touch with myself, with my own music. And I based that album off of what I had seen people dancing to and moving to.

– Was it successful for you? Not looking at numbers and all.
It was very successful for me. Not looking at numbers, it was very successful for me. I feel like I got my point across with that album. The way I wanted to do it.

– You are like the jazzy soul R&B artist that got that hiphop flavor to him, having worked with names as Jay Dee, Slum Village, Common and Pharoahe Monch, has that influenced your style more? Or did it only confirm who you are?
It influenced me. I believe that every time I work with a different artist, whether it be hiphop, whether it be soul or jazz, I come out of that with something new. Every time you work with a different artist, it brings something else out of you that you otherwise wouldn’t bring out of yourself.

– So it adds to your own style, without actually taking away from it.

– You produce as well, next to the fact you play a bunch of instruments, which makes you a pretty multi-talented artist.
Thank you.

– Ok.
Haha. What am I supposed to say? “Why yes I am.”

– Ok, that was a trick question. I was trying to see how humble you are.

– What has been the most memorable moment in your music career so far?
I have a lot of memorable moments. If I had to choose one I would have to say, getting on stage with Roy Ayers. This was a while ago, maybe ’04. At the Montreal Jazz Festival. He called me up to do “Sunshine” with him and I lost it. I don’t even really remember the experience. If I think back of it it’s like “Damn I was up there.” It was all a blur. It was dope though.

– There are a lot of artists singing about love and such. What makes you different from them?
I sing about love, I sing about romance, of course. I try to do it in a way that people can relate to it though. I try to talk about subjects that people think about but nobody is saying anything about. Like songs like “The Truth”.

– There is no other song that you can compare to that one?
I don’t know, there might be. But a lot of people aren’t doing it.

– How do you come up with new creative ways to sing about love? Your own experiences or situations?
It’s conversation. Sometimes I just make the beat and let the music tell me what to write. I write and then it kind of starts making sense. My own experiences as well, yeah, I’m sorry haha.

– Talking about experiences… Your latest song is called “I’m cheatin”, in which you state that everybody cheats, why do you think that?
The song is more than cheating. The song is more about, and I am speaking from my perspective, it’s about cheating on my girl, with my girl.

– So it’s a little fantasy, ha.
Yeah, uhm, yeah well…..what I am saying with the song is, it shouldn’t be a fantasy. You know, if you’re a woman, you should be everything for your guy. If you’re a guy you should be everything for your girl.

– That’s the thought behind it. So you’re not really cheating.
No you’re not.

– So what do you mean with “Everybody cheats”?
Cause…..ok why are you….ok look! Aight look!

– I am asking cause I know a lot of people will interpret the song wrong, that’s why I am trying to get you to explain it.
Right. And I want it that way too. Cause they will interpret it wrong until they see the video. The video spells everything out and they will be like “Oooh…..” The video hasn’t been shot yet, we plan on shooting it as soon as I get back to the States. The video will explain everything.

– So I cheat as well?
You might. If the guy is willing to be himself, the guy that you fell in love with. And then is able to step outside of his personality and be somebody else for you, then yeah, cheat with your guy.

– That’s roleplay.
Hey call it what you want haha.

– That’s what I meant with it being a fantasy.
Hahaha it’s all good.

– Let’s talk about the new album. The follow up to Some Kinda. When can we expect it? It’s been too long!
Its actually dropping in the States June 24th. I am not sure about the release date in Europe. It probably be a month or so after that.

– What can you tell us about the album? Collaborations and such.
Its a little bit of Some Kinda, a little bit of Subject, but at the same time it’s new. It’s Dwele 2008. You gotta wait and find out, I am still finding out. I am still cuttin’ songs.

– Can you give a little away of who is going to be featured on the album?
I have been talking to some people. Of course I am going to feature Slum on the album. Production wise I am gonna work with a guy named Nottz.

– Nottz is dope. I wonder what type of beat he’s gonna throw you for that one.
The beat is kinda crazy.

– Who else?
Well Nottz and G-1, the guy that produced Find a Way, he also produced Cheatin’.

– What is the goal you have set for this album?
For this album right here? Hmm….we setting high goals. Why not say Diamond, we going Diamond with this one right here.

– But for yourself, your personal goal.
As long as people can relate to it, I have a career.

– Where do you see yourself in 10 years, doing what?
I have no idea. Ten years ago I didn’t see myself singing. In ten years I wanna do something having to do with the arts. Keep being creative. Whether it’s singing, whether it’s production, shooting movies, being in movies I am not sure. You never know what it’s gonna take.

– Do you see yourself rhyming again?
Nah I don’t know man.

– Let’s do a song together.
Rhyming? Ok let’s do it. Let’s go.

– Any advice to all the people out there struggling/dealing with love and music?
With Love and Music? Hmm, with Love…..

– Yeah since he is cheatin’ you might not want advice from him haha.
Haha. Yeah take my advice. With the love, ladies if you got a man, tell that dude to be himself, but also, tell him to be whatever it is that you want. If you want a Snoop Dogg character or you want a Dwele character, tell him to be all of that for you. And, you gotta learn how to cook for your man. If you know how to cook rice and beans and chicken, that’s your special dish and your guy loves that, keep cooking it, improve on it. But then he might want lasagna one day so you gotta learn how to cook lasagna. Be everything for that guy. Dudes, leave your girl not wanting for anything. In the music business, don’t wait for anybody, get out there and get it yourself. Take advantage of the internet, the free promotion. Make it original, do your thing, stand out and make this music.

– That was my last question, but since you are talking about food. Why shouldn’t the guy cook? I need a man that can cook cause I can eat.
Hey, if that’s what the lady wants, the guy gotta learn how to cook. I’m the man on the foods. I gotta take care of myself if nobody else is taking care of me. I learned how to season and all that.

– Rice and beans and chicken?
Yeah for real! My specialty is pasta.

– Aight I will check that out one day. Thank you.
Thank you very much.

With special thanks to Scrap Dirty & Uncle Tim.