I had a chance to interview singer Dwele before the first of his two sold-out shows at Washington D.C.’s City Winery on Saturday, February 15. Check it out below!
Derrick Dunn: I understand that you’re were born in Detroit. How big of an influence did Motown play in your decision to pursue a musical career?
DWELE: I feel that Motown was very instrumental. In my opinion, there are so many great musicians in Detroit today because there was always an Aunt, Uncle or parent that was directly touched by that Motown movement. Either they played a part, wanted to be a part of it, or just kept that good Motown music playing in the household off of city love. Music became a hand me down in Detroit.
Derrick Dunn: One of my favorite tracks from you is Keep On feat. Slum Village from your 2005 album (Some Kinda). What was it like working with J. Dilla on that record?
DWELE: J. Dilla was a good person and a musical alien. I saw him do things with the MPC that would make you consider that machine the latest jazz instrument. It was always good working with Dilla AND Slum Village, it was never a rushed or stressful situation. Just good vibes, a lot of smiles and dope music. Every song I’ve done with him is an audio time capsule for me.
Derrick Dunn: Another one of my favorites is I’m Cheatin from Sketches of A Man. What was the inspiration behind that song?
DWELE: I’m Cheatin’ was made in Cali at my guy G1’s studio. I took the music to the B room, sat with it, and the first lyric that came to me was “I can never affair, with anyone else but you…”. I remember thinking to myself “How do I make this line make sense without losing my entire fan base?” Lol. The next line was “I fell asleep with my love affair and woke up next to my girl”. I wrote the song backwards from the last line.
Derrick Dunn: One of your frequenter collaborators in the past has been Mike City. Do you have any plans to reunite with him in the future?
DWELE: A Dwele album isn’t a Dwele album without Mike City! I def plan to link in the near future. His catalog is crazy… Musical royalty.
Derrick Dunn: With it being Valentine’s Day weekend what are three songs in your catalog, you would say are essential to the slow jam playlist?
DWELE: Hmmm… I can never listen to myself if I’m trying to create a mood, it instantly turns into work, “I should’ve done this on that song, maybe I should change that on this song, let me make a note so I don’t forget…” lol, that can’t happen. So, if I had to pick 3…. Luther Vandross. – Make Me A Believer, for the warmup. Bilal- White Turns To Grey, for the act. H.E.R.- Best Part, for the morning spoon session lol. FIN.
Derrick Dunn: If there is ever a biopic about your friend J. Dilla, which actor
would like to see portray him on the big screen?
DWELE: I’d say 2006 Michael B. Jordan
Derrick Dunn: Are there any MC’s, you have on your dream collaboration list?
DWELE: Even tho I’ve worked with him in the past, I’d love to work with Drake. He’s one of the most versatile artists out here. He can show you his roots in hip hop, then give you an R&B joint, and chase it with a radio hot song, with punchlines…and you’ll hear all three of them in the same club, on the same night. I also want to do a song with Jay Z and Ghostface. Even though Ghost is one of my favorite rappers, I’d want to rap with Ghostface singing the hook. I feel like his hooks are underrated.
Derrick Dunn: Your last album was 2012’s Greater Than One. Are you working on
DWELE: Always working on the new. The next album is “Same Book… New Chapter”. I have a lot of years and new experiences to pick songs from on this one.
Derrick Dunn: In your opinion what’s one thing missing in modern R&B?
DWELE: Nothing. I feel like R&B wears so many hats right now, and there are so many musical outlets, whatever you’re looking for can be found. If anything is missing, it’s the mainstream platform for all of the R&B hats.
Derrick Dunn: Do you any advice to offer up and coming artists?
DWELE: It depends on what you’re going for. If you want to hop in, get the quick money and hop out, then do exactly what the last hot artist did, talk about the same thing, produce the same beat. That seems to be the formula right now. But if it’s about the art, and the therapy of music, then take your time and do what you love. Find out what makes you different from everyone else and accentuate it. Find your audience, enjoy the ride.
Derrick Dunn: Is there anything you would like to add?
DWELE: I’m so appreciative of everyone that has supported and continue to support, you guys are part of the fam!! More to come soon!!