360 Degrees of Dwele

8 02 2009


How many talents can one person have and be good at them all????

For those people who are still sleeping on this incredibly talented man! WAKE UP!

He goes by the name of Dwele, a Swahili name meaning ‘God has brought me’. He is the deliverer of outstanding albums such as ‘Rize’, ‘Subject’, ‘Some kinda’ and ‘Sketches of a man’. This Detroit native weaves you into his world from the jump and you’ll find yourself lost in the groove of his soul as he takes you melodically and lyrically to places you never want to leave. He is a wordsmith, a poet and an old soul all wrapped up into his trademark hip hop swag but, this young man has many more strings to his bow.

Creatively he executes many forms of art to express himself and he is not afraid to step outside the box. He sets trends, he’s an innovator and he has all the credentials and ingredients that it takes to make the long haul in this often difficult industry but, he didn’t get there the easy way.

He is the true definition of a hip hop entrepreneur, the multi talented, Singer,Songwriter,Producer, multi instrumentalist, Grammy award winner, DJ, artist, rapper and short film/ music video producer/director Dwele does it all.

He has kindly taken the time out of his crazy schedule to talk to us and share some of the things that make him the artist that he is today. Young cat’s coming up, take notes!

Fyza: Hey, thank you for taking the time out to talk to us, how’s things?
Dwele: Everything is good. Taking some time off from the road, at home watchin’ youtube clips with my dog rockstar, tryin’ to stay warm. . . it’s so cold in tha D

Fyza: Ok, let’s talk about the music for a minute.
Four albums deep, a Grammy in the bag, features on two number one albums in 2008 with ‘Flashing Lights’ (Kanye West) and ‘The People’ (Common), the release of your fourth album ‘Sketches of a man’, it’s been quite a musical journey for you thus far, how do you manage to consistently deliver at such a high standard?

Dwele: I try not to make music on request, but rather make it when I feel it. I think in a way it keeps it more natural and from the heart because it’s not forced. Other than that, I just make music that I like or that makes me feel good, and I’ve been blessed that there’s people out there that feel and enjoy it with me.

Fyza: You even put some soul into Mcdonalds with their latest campaign for the new McCafe drink. For those of us that don’t know about it, tell us about ‘Liquid love’ and how that came about?

Dwele: haha! Yea that was something that management put together for me. They came at me with the McCafe thing and I said “as long as I can do it my way!” So the company gave me a few words that they wanted me to include in the songs, “liquid love” being one of them, I thought it sounded a lil’ freaky so I decided it would be fun to make a seductive coffee commercial with some double talk in it! All in all I enjoyed the process and think it turned out well. It was a lot of fun working with Conya Doss on 2 of the 3 commercials, and there’s talk about possibly making one a T.V spot.

Fyza: You started out as a rapper, when did you fall in and out of rhyming and can we expect to hear you rap on future cuts?

Dwele: Ha! It’s funny you’re asking this question now, I just made one 2 days ago! I started rhyming seriously when I got to high school, thanks to my god-sister Kindra, classmates Tony or “Big Tone, Terrel or” Ta’raach, and a few other people that I met that were on their hip hop. I did it up thru high school, college, my first job at a pizza spot, when I started working at AAA insurance in 97′ 98′ is about when I started experimenting more with vocals. I always did vocals but it was concentrated more on hooks until that time. I would love to put out a rhyme joint but it has to be done right, I would probably have to put it out under an alias, so people wouldn’t be thinking “singer” while they were listening to it.

Fyza: How old were you when you first discovered your ‘gift’?

Dwele: You would have to interview my mother for that one! I remember being really young banging on the piano over my grandmothers house, every now and then I would hit a few notes together that would sound like it was supposed to be, so I’d keep hitting them. Then I remember getting a toy harmonica and playing the ABC song or something simple on it. Around the age of 9 or 10 I got my first keyboard

Fyza: Who are you feeling musically? Who inspires you?

Dwele: I’m inspired by all types of music and artists. My inspirations from the old are Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayers. When I got into hip hop, I was listenin to Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, and Slick Rick did somethin’ for me as a kid too. Today I listen to all types of music from U2 to Lil’ Wayne to people I’m in the soul grind with like Eric Roberson , Muhsinah, Musiq, Bilal. Inspiration can come from going to a club and seeing the people move to a certain joint, watching a ‘on the come up’ rock band in a hole in the wall club, from a sunrise or even a dream. I try to stay open to all of that so I don’t miss it when it comes.

Fyza: You recorded your first album ‘Rize’ in a home studio and then went on to sell copies on the street and sold out within a week. The bootleg express caught onto it and the world got it’s first taste of your sound. Would you say that was the motivation behind pursuing the whole music thing on a bigger scale?

Dwele: Oh yea, that was it. Even though it was just 100 CD’s, it felt good and it was an accomplishment for me cause I didn’t know how people would react to my music, all I knew was that I liked it. When the opportunity came to actually do music, I jumped on it because I was at a point in my life that if it didn’t work out I had a secured job to fall back on. I was blessed, right place right time.

Fyza: What advice would you give based on your experiences now to somebody who’s just starting out in the same way you did?

Dwele: The music game is a lot different now than it was in 2000, shit. . .it’s a lot different now than it was in 2008! But I think the one thing that never changes is, you have to do something to separate yourself from everyone else, you have to find your groove, YOUR some kinda,ha! Take advantage of the fact that technology allows you to create an album and put it out without the use of a label. Do your research musically, find out what’s out there, figure out what you can bring to the table, and bring it!

Fyza: Your current album ‘Sketches of a man’ is a continuation of both ‘Subject’ and ‘Some kinda’ in that you tell a story that bounces from one album to the next kind of like a book, the albums being the various chapters. Was that intentional or did it just happen like that?

Dwele: I think it just happened that way. I love when I talk to people and they look further into a song or a concept than I did initially, that tells me that my music or my art makes people think, which is a beautiful thing. It also shows that music or lyrics don’t have to be dumbed down for everyone to get it. One thing that I HAVE noticed is that all of my major label albums have started with the letter S, I don’t know how that happened. . . when I get asked about that in interviews, I never know how to explain it. . .haha, all I can say is I’m making a conscious effort to start the album title with a different letter next time!

Fyza: The music industry today requires many artists to compromise their sound in order to be more main stream and radio friendly to the masses. How do you manage to retain YOUR sound and still be able to reach such a mixed crowd?

Dwele: I’ve been blessed that some like what I like! I try to add different elements in certain songs that might pull in a different audience, but I make sure to stay true to what I do in situations like that , so that my feel wont get lost in it.

Fyza: Your lyrics and word play take the listener on a magical journey, you make people think. Would you consider yourself a complex songwriter? Do you get a kick out of making us use that part of our brain that’s constantly set to ‘chill’ mode? (lol)

Dwele: Haha!Yea it’s fun watching people go from hating a song to loving it, all because they didn’t really listen to it the first time (I’m Cheatin’). Or songs like Down Jimmy where the song was out for 5 years before people realized that my voice was changing in the song symbolizing my journey from 4th grade to college. It keeps the song relevant and gives it a new breath after it’s been exhausted. I would like to think I’m not a complex writer, I try to write so that everyone understands it. . .eventually haha.

Fyza: Which Dwele song is YOUR favorite and why?

Dwele: I heard a musician say once “my latest song is always my favorite”, that holds true with me too. So the hip hop joint I was talking about on Q#3 is my favorite right now “Soul Singers Dream”. . . dammit there I go wit them S’s again!

Fyza: You’ve collaborated with so many different artists, if you had to choose your favorite collaboration, which one would it be and why?

Dwele:   It was always fun working with Dilla. I miss the late night sessions at Studio A where we would just stop working and have fun. Dilla on the drums, Waajeed on the boards playin some wild shit, Frank on the bongos, me on the fretless bass soundin’ like the Fat Albert intro but makin’ it work, Dank singin’ in the background, Todd Farrel mixin’ the session on the other side of the glass laughin’ his ass off. . .damn I gotta find that cassette tape.

Fyza: You tour a LOT… Does this feed your creativity and help you to write and create more or does it sometimes block your creativity?

Dwele: Inspiration can come from touring and traveling, but I can’t write while I’m out. I find it more comfortable creating and writing at home. It’s like, you travel the world and experience different foods, but you don’t feel comfortable at the hotel, you gotta come home to shit!

Fyza: I’ve seen your shows and watched you grow as a live performer but, what do you really enjoy the most about being on stage?

Dwele: The freedom to do whatever I feel. To an extent , the label controls the music you make, the radio controls what’s played, and what the people hear, but on stage its my time to do what I want and play what I want. They may have words afterwards, but it’s already done, cant take it back.

Fyza: A lot of people don’t know that you also DJ, how did you get into that?

Dwele: I had been talking about how I wanted to learn how to dj so I could start doing gigs after my shows. My manager goes and books a dj gig for me and tells me about it after the fact. . .mind you, most start off dj’s first gig’s are at a family barbeque, or a cousins backyard party. . . my manager books me to do the Senators after party for the International Auto Show black tie affair. . .and I had never touched a wheel in my life!!
I had to leave for New York the week before the dj gig for studio work. Before I left, I bought Serato, a cheap mixer and a couple cd’s and took them to NY with me. After my studio sessions, I would go back to the room and shed with the tables till I got back to Detroit for the gig. It was pressure, but I loved it! Couldn’t wait to do it again.

Fyza: What should people expect to hear at a Dwele Dj gig?

Dwele: I touch on everything from the ole school hip hop to classics like Prince, MJ, to club bangers. Of course I do the soul music too. At the end of the night I always get complaints that I didn’t play any of my music. I don’t quite know how to fit that in yet without seeming vain.

Fyza: You also sketch and paint, I’ve seen your work, it’s DOPE! I know you have showcased a few sketches on the sleeve of your latest album but, can we expect a Dwele art gallery exhibition anytime soon?

Dwele: The plan was to have album release parties at art galleries and showcase the pieces and the art work, but I bit off a lil’ more than I could chew with that one. Painting is by far not my profession so I’m not fast with it. It’s something I like to take my time with and enjoy. Putting a deadline on painting is something I didn’t want to stress myself with so I just stuck to putting a couple pieces in the album.

Fyza: Your latest thing is shooting short films and videos. This is really inspirational to people coming up in the music game that might not have a big budget to make a video. You’ve proven that a dope video can be done in a much simpler way and that you can actually do it yourself! In fact, you are doing your own music video for your next single ‘A Few Reasons’, what is the concept going to be for that video and when can we expect to see it?

Dwele: The video for “A Few Reasons” is going to be made by the Myspace, Facebook internet friends. I sent out a bulletin telling all of my friends to send in video of themselves singing the song and dancing or doing whateva. . . that was a lot of fun for me seeing what they came up with! The concept for this video is crazy, and it is just a concept in my mind right now, hopefully I can pull it off convincingly being brand new in this video game. But if it works, its gonna be that hot shit for 09 haha!

Fyza: Will you be shooting video’s for other artists in the future?

Dwele: I would love to. I think I need to try a few more videos with myself and with friends before I feel comfortable being work for hire, but the video game is something I’d love to break off into.

Fyza: Are there any other areas in the industry that you would like to move into for example, acting or managing other artists maybe?

Dwele: I don’t know about managing other artists right now, that seems like a stressful job, but acting is something I would like to try. . . actually that’s my goal for 09, to be in a movie. . .so we’ll see what happens.

Fyza: Any more talents that we don’t know about? Lol… Can you cook? Lol?

Dwele: Ha! I CAN cook! They call me Chef Boyardwe! Pastas are my specialty.

Fyza: So what’s next for Dwele?

Dwele: Got a lot of touring coming up, always working on the next album, and I have a few other things cookin in the pasta sauce. . .but I don’t like to talk about my ingredients before the meal is ready to eat. . .

Fyza: I’m looking forward to what you do next!!!  Thank you once again for taking the time out to share pieces of yourself with us, it’s appreciated and good luck with all your future endeavors.

Dwele’s current album ‘Sketches of a man’ is out NOW, cop that! The new single ‘A Few Reasons’ will be dropping very soon with a video made by the man himself, look out for that!

Check him out live at a city near you. You can check his Myspace page for tour dates, dj sets etc.





6 responses

9 02 2009

Nice one Fy.

10 02 2009
Farahnaz - Deep Honesty


I didn’t know that u make interviews but well, i just add u to myspace some days before so that’s why i didn’t know about you. You’re so talented girl!!
I loved the interview.

The more i know facts about Dwele, the more i admire him.
He’s so talented! I think he can be the best at whatever he want to do.

Anyway, i become a fan of ur interviews with this one.

Take care, 😉

10 02 2009


10 02 2009
Farahnaz - Deep Honesty


I didn’t know that u make interviews but i have to say that u’re so talented girl!

By the way, the more facts i know about Dwele the more i admire him.
This man can be the best at whatever he want to do, for me he’s the best and the most talented artist.

Anyway, I love this interview and i have to say that since now i’ll keep an eye on ur interviews.

Take care!

10 02 2009

Excellent interview. I liked the DJ’ing question. Looks like the lost art of DJ’ing is slowly returning. Keep up the great work!

11 02 2009

Very good interview Fyza!! It’s good to see another side to Dwele and that DJ thing was so funny! Thats something I’d do to myself, put myself under pressure like that. AND I like what he said about not talking about his ingredients before the meal is ready, I’m gonna steal that 🙂

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