Life’s a Blog

Some kinda Interview on Subjects such as Sketches of a Man
August 13, 2009, 2:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Dwele is an amazingly talented R&B/soul singer, songwriter and record producer from Detroit, Michigan. He grew up listening to such Motown artists as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis and Roy Ayers, since becoming a life-long fan and even a spontaneous collaborator. He started writing at the age of ten, using it originally as an emotional vent after dealing with a tragedy in his family. After briefly attending Wayne State, Dwele left college to pursue his own passion for music while working full time.

His demo tape, The Rize was created in a backroom at his mothers’ house. Dwele pressed only 100 copies with a goal to gain some recognition within local Detroit, never anticipating the attention he would soon receive. Since then he’s taken the Soul/R&B world by storm with 3 studio albums, Grammy nominations and features on tracks with such as Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and Common’s “The People”.

Dwele is a catalyst for what a true musical artist should showcase. That is passion, talent, soul and an undeniable work ethic.

I was fortunate enough to get a chance to speak with him and gain some insight on some past experiences and future goals for the down-to-earth talent.

SH: So what’s going on with you man, what have you been up to? Playing shows? In the studio?

Dwele: Yeah, you know I’m in the studio, I stay working. You know what I’m saying; Even when I’m not officially working on the album I’m always working on it. You know, I mean other than that I’ve been touring, you know doing spot dates, maybe about to start a tour  in July I believe it is, so I got that coming up but other than that I’ve been trying to keep my youtube thing updated, you know, doing random stuff.

SH: Could you give us an insight on the newest album in terms of its production? Features? I know you got a joint with Slum Village on there.

Dwele: Yeah, this past album Sketches of a man, I worked with Notz on the song a few reasons and with G-1 on the single I’m cheating. Other than that, of course I worked with Slum Village out of love but that was about it. This next and upcoming album I plan on working with a few more producers you know what I’m saying? And bringing on a few more guests. In the past I didn’t really want to put too much into having guests on there because a lot of the times when a artist does that you don’t really know what the artist is about because they have so many guests and other things going on with the album and I didn’t necessarily want that to happen. But now that I think I’ve established, you know this is going to be my 4th album, 5th for some you know what I’m saying so I think I’ve established who I am as an artist and I just need to start branching out and trying and doing different things. So that’s what this next album is going to be about.

SH: What kind of response have you been getting?

Dwele: Yeah, the response has been good; been great you know what I’m saying. It’s still going, still moving which is a beautiful thing, I think this album right here is a slow burner. You know, we didn’t really do much of a push on this album as far as getting it out there but I think little by little with the small things I do. I’m going to say even the McDonald’s McCafe thing, don’t get it twisted, the album sales have jumped you know what I’m saying? A lot of people may call that selling out by putting my music on a coffee commercial, but I look at it like you know, I’m branching out, I’m trying to get my music exposed to people who otherwise wouldn’t give it a listen. That’s what it’s doing man, its creating an awareness for the music. You know what I’m saying? And sometimes, that may come in the form of a coffee commercial, that’s what its all about man.

SH: Do you have any shows coming up you’re especially excited for?

Dwele: I mean, all the shows you know what I’m saying. I got a show coming up in North Carolina on the 24th; I got a few different shows coming up. I don’t want to be putting out things cause I might say the wrong thing; I don’t have my schedule in front of me. But you know, we hitting North Carolina, we got The Essence fest coming up in New Orleans so I’m looking forward to that, that’s always a great thing, always a beautiful thing but there’s a lot coming up, I think we are coming to the east coast like New York, so there’s a lot coming up for us.

SH: Would you say you got your big break and opportunity for recognition after your work on tainted from Slum Village’s Tainted?

Dwele: Yeah I got to say tainted was the one that did it. I was actually signed with Virgin for 3 years before the album actually came out. I think when they heard tainted come out and that it was creating a fan base for the type of music that I was doing I think that kind of pushed Virgin to you know, move ahead with the album and start promoting it and see what can happen so I’m most definitely thankful for Slum giving me the opportunity to do my thing on that joint.

SH: It’s obvious that J Dilla has had a huge impact of so many people’s lives and their music. You were fortunate enough to be good friends with him. What are some things you’ve learned from him and use till this day and is there a specific moment that sticks out in your head when you think of him?

Dwele: Yeah I remember when I was you know, first getting to know Slum and Jay, it was around the time when they were working on the first fantastic. I was in JD’s basement and they were cutting Just for You, So I walked in the basement and free was playing something but I couldn’t hear the actual music cause he had the headphones on cutting so he did it kind of shady. I went in the sound booth and turned the mic on and turned off the music and the sound was coming through the headphones and we would cut it, so that’s how it jumped off. So yeah, I was listening to his flow and tried to make it make sense like you know, What kind of music is this that he’s flowing over, because the flow was so unorthodox on that joint so when he was done and played the joint back man I was like, my god. Like I knew Dilla was special you know what I’m saying but to hear that joint come together the way it came together in that basement with damn near nothing you know what I’m saying really showed how magical that dude was, how he could make anything happen with whatever he had.

SH: Speaking of inspirations, I was lucky enough to catch you at the Toronto Jazz festival when you were jamming with Roy Ayers on “Everybody loves the sunshine” You struck a cord with me as a person who truly loves music, what was it like playing with one of your inspirations.

Dwele: Man, I got to say that point was a highlight of my career thus far. Actually being on stage with Roy Ayers, I grew up listening to that guy. I modeled a lot of what I did right down to the laid back groove you know what I’m saying I modeled a lot actually after Roy so for him to call me on stage and play a part on one of my favorite songs ever with the man himself you know what I’m saying, it was humbling and inspirational at the same time. That’s something that I can’t forget, I wish I had video of that joint.

SH: Again speaking on inspirations, what are some of yours outside of music, Books? Movies?

Dwele: a lot you know what I’m saying, just from everyday living inspires me. I guess for books, I got this one book called the Prophet, and it’s sort of like poetry. And I kind of read that book when I’m just relaxing and want to get into that vibe of making something more poetic, song structure wise. So I’ll read that book cause it kind of puts me there. Movies, I got to say one of my favorite movies musically would be Mo Betta Blues

SH: Sketches of a man was your last album, you produced all but 3 tracks and that just blew me away, the amount of true musical talent you have is insane. Want to speak a bit on which instruments you love, and has production always come so natural?

Dwele: Yeah, I started off producing and after a while production started feeling incomplete without doing something over it whether it was rhyming or singing. Most of the time through high school it was rhyming but as I got older and started dealing with people in the hip-hop scene and there wasn’t really anyone doing the vocal signing thing so I kinda started gravitating more towards that because it stood out a little but more. I think my favorite instrument would have to be the piano that’s what I love. That’s what I was raised on you know and the type of music I listened to you know but other than that I work with the MP you know, even If I don’t necessarily sample my own sounds and are using some software synths and sounds you know I think I’m still going to use that MP you know what I’m saying, It’s just the feel of the pad, that I love but other than that, I try to keep a lot of different instrumentation in the music no matter what I’m doing you know, So I like using a live band, bass, and a live guitar depending on the type of set I want to do. I grew up playing Trumpet too so on some of the songs I’ll pick up the horn and work that out too.

SH: Speaking of musical talent, I saw a bootleg production, I’m not sure how recent it was from but you were spinning on some Stanton’s showing some samples from tracks and it was just way too ill. Have you always been a master of all musical trades or what man? It seems whatever you can get your hands on your can show some skills.

Dwele: Man, I try to learn everything enough to do a little something with it you know what I’m saying. The DJ thing, that’s my most recent attempt at something but you know, I just got my CDJ’s last year you know so I’ve been just kind of working with them. You know, they aren’t the best CDJ’s but they get the job done, it’s something I can learn on and mess around with, I can entertain, like if I’m doing a party at the crib the DJ’s my own joints, that’s kind of how it all got started, just kind of fooling around and taking it where I can.

SH: That video also showed me that you have an amazing taste in music. Is there that one song for you that can make a bad day good or get you hyped no matter what? A song you just don’t skip on the iPod.

Dwele: Man, There are a few of them, there are a few like that, but you know, it all depends on my situation. If I’m waking up and the suns coming through my window you know what I’m saying, and I need that feel good song man, it’s got to be Stevie Wonder’s All I do. But If I’m in the range, riding down 8 mile or something with the sun out and the window’s down you know I’d probably have to say. You going to laugh man, but it’s this song out by this artist called Damn D and the song is called love me, that song makes me loose my mind man, makes me do 80 in a 35. For real.

SH: I happened to see another bootleg production of you asking some others (Rio, Black Milk) what hip hop song they wish they had produced. I think that’s a great question but just want to slant it a bit. What are two songs you wish you had written, one for completely creative reasons, and one for its commercial success?

Dwele: Wow, creative I’m going to have to say the most feel good, and just beautiful song, I’m going to say it would be between De Angelo’s untitled, was just a classic. Or Bilal’s soul sisters, that song had every tick, I mean every tick you know what I’m saying? It was a classic, just a classic joint. I’d have to say, to write a song on just for like, popularity, or money. I’d have to say… damn this is a good question; there are a lot of them out there… I don’t know man, were going to have to come back to that one.

SH: I’ve noticed you have a great vision when it comes to your own advertising, from your own youtube channel promo video to a huge client like McDonald’s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more quality jingle before in my life. It was just way too smooth. How did that opportunity come about? Are you going to be doing more promotions for yourself in the future?

Dwele: Yeah man, that was something that my management pulled together and made happen for me. I’m a person that likes challenges. I looked at the McDonald’s commercial as a challenge you know what I’m saying, Can I make a McDonald’s commercial hot? That’s kind of how I looked at it; I took it as a challenge. I think for the most part I did everything I could do to make the commercial as hot as I could make it, But we got another one coming out that I actually have to fly out to LA for, we’re shooting a second one, and it’s going to have a little different vibe to it, so I’m looking forward to that but that’s really what it’s about man and it’s always a challenge for me. You know, I feel like I’ve conquered the soul scene, I’ve done that, so let’s see what else I can do. What else can I accomplish, and it’s not easy to get a commercial spot you know so I definitely need to pray and thank my management for giving me the opportunity to try it, It’s something I look forward to doing more of in the future and it does open up a lot of doors for me and like I said it turns a lot of people on to me who otherwise would have never heard my name let alone my music and that’s ultimately at the end of the day what this is about man, I’m trying to turn people on to real music

SH: Last year you were nominated for 2 Grammy’s. Were you blown away when you found out or was it something you always saw on the horizon. Did you see it coming at all?

Dwele: I didn’t see it coming man, I almost crashed my car when I got that call you know what I’m saying, and I had to pull over. I still didn’t believe it, I had to go home and check on the Internet before I believed it. But most definitely, that was something that I really didn’t see coming and the surprise was a beautiful thing you know. I got to go out to LA, to celebrate the Grammy’s and my birthday at the same time so it’s one of those situations when you go once, and you got to get back, I got to get back there man.

SH: The creativity you showcase through songwriting has been amazing in the past, did you have a heavy hand in the writing of sketches of a man? If so, where and when do you write best? What are some personal must haves when it comes time to write or producing you’re in the studio?

Dwele: I wrote the majority, wait. I think all the songs. I wrote every song on sketches of a man, almost positive. Every song.

SH: When you’re in the studio, is there a special drink you got to have or something that’s a constant?

Dwele: Ahh, not really man, What I like when I’m writing or producing is being at my mothers house in the backroom where I started off man, that’s where I’m most comfortable and it’s all about being comfortable, and that’s where mine is, in that backroom. I mean, a lot of that album I actually cut at my house, you know a little bit away from my mothers so it can be done elsewhere, but it seems like it flows a lot better and it a lot more comfortable and relaxed when I’m at home at my mothers house where I grew up. Other than that man, that’s pretty much all I need is just my comfort and a little bit of quiet.

SH: Here’s a pretty deep question, what are some things you personally want to achieve before you leave this earth. I know it’s a lot to ask.

Dwele: I mean, One of my goals that I’ve always had is something that I feel like to an extent I’ve achieved you know what I’m saying and that was just getting my music out there you know, past my friends and past Detroit, you know, across the world. And I feel I’ve done that to an extent, of course there is different levels of that but for me to be right here right now is a blessing and of course there are a lot of different levels so I’d love to continue with it and to make it bigger but ultimately man, I think we all get into music for a certain level of respect for what we do and that’s about it, Of course I want to make it comfortable for not only me, but for my family off of doing what I love so ultimately that’s one of my goals.

SH: What are some ways your fans or first time listeners can experience your work? Find out about live shows and that type of thing?

Dwele:I keep my myspace, and my facebook page updated with all the shows. My facebook would be….well, you know how to use facebook. It’s a fan page, so just search Dwele on facebook and you’ll find it. The myspace page is and they can also check out my youtube channel at dwele24, the youtube thing is probably the most fun and interactive because it’s updated and I try to do a video once a month without ever knowing what the videos going to be about. It’s always a surprise for myself, and everyone who gets to check it out. And of course now you got to have a twitter page, so to follow me just search therealdwele. That’s about everything right there.

SH: Before we wrap up, do you have any last words for your fans?

Dwele: I just really appreciate all the support thus far and I’m going to try to keep it moving and keep this music coming. A new album’s going to be coming very soon and is in the works now. Don’t have a release date but its definitely, other than that I’m in your area.

SH: Thank you so much man, I really appreciate your time. You are an amazing talent and I know you haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of your success. I wish you all the best in the future man; it’s been great talking to you.


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