On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing neo soul/ jazz and RnB singer Dwele, who is currently in London to promote his fifth studio album Greater Than One – that he will plug with a string of live gigs at London’s jazz cafe this week.
Dwele is most notable for his hit singles Find A Way and Hold On featuring Eric Roberson, and of course his features on Kanye West’s Flashing Lights and Power.
We sat down at the Holiday Inn hotel in Camden in the upstairs café and discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from what to expect from his live Greater Than One tour, his take on the UK urban music scene, the use of social media and an interesting hobby of his he is currently looking into turning into an additional career outlet in the UK.
I love London, this is my 9th or 10th stay here, this is like my second home; the Jazz Café also feels like my second home too.
Talking about what fans could expect from his upcoming London gig, he replied:
With my shows I try to cover all the different bases. I got a lot of albums that I gotta cover, so I try to include something from every album.
I’m gonna give you that feel good music, the baby-making music, give you something to dance to throughout the show. No matter the size of the crowd I’m gonna make sure there’s something for everybody.
Dwele has been doing music for the better part of 10 years, and he discussed his time in the industry and the experiences he had:
I’ll definitely say that it’s been well rounded. I’d say that I’ve experienced the major label, I’ve experienced indie labels, I call it major independent which is who I’m with right now E1 records.
I’ve experienced a lot, I got a chance to travel the world, I’ve met a little bit of everybody, I’ve done a little bit of everybody… done a little bit of everybody? Wow! I’ve done songs with a little bit of everybody, so you know it’s definitely been an experience.
In his time in the music industry, the 35-year-old has worked and collaborated with a high caliber of artists such as Eric Roberson, Slum Village and Kanye West. When asked if he had any future plans to work with Kanye again, Dwele said:
Our first time ever working together was on a remix to Hold On from the Subject album, he did a remix of it and him and Consequence did a verse. From that we did shows together and then he called me out to Slum Village to work on Flashing Lights and Power.
I’m waiting for the call again (grinning). Hopefully we’ll be able to work together again in the future.
He then went on to discuss the recent controversy that’s surrounded his friend Kanye in the last few years:
I mean, yeah I see a change [in Kanye]. Just like, judging off of what I see on TV, but I think he’s smart, he knows what he’s doing.
He knows how to do certain things to keep his name out there and any publicity is good publicity.
He’s a different type of famous, I mean there’s certain things you gotta do that other people won’t understand and might look at as uppity. We all know, I think he’s a good guy, a talent and I know him to be a good guy personally.
Dwele has been open with his fans throughout his career, previously saying, “I learned to put my emotions into music” the singer has revealed that he was deeply affected by the fatal shooting of his father outside their family home, when Dwele was just 10 years old.
I definitely think it [the shooting] played a major part into me being who I am right now… After a while it just became a habit, it just became something that I did and I couldn’t wait to get out of school so that I could finish a song that I started the day before.
Or I couldn’t wait until Baseball practice was over so that I could get back to music.
Since he was spending time in the UK, I asked Dwele about his thoughts on the music scene over here and if he’d ever consider working with any artists himself. He responded by saying that Adele was “killing it” and he’s previously worked with UK artists and would do so again.
Dwele has stayed true to his neo-soul genre throughout the duration of his career, so I wanted to know his thoughts on the direction that urban music was currently going in:
I feel like music right now, you never know where it’s heading, it’s always something new every two to three months, always something out of the blue.
As of right now, I’d say Hip-Hop and RnB are wearing a lot of different hats right now. Even in Hip-Hop alone, you got your Hip-Hop that works in the club, your Hip-Hop that’s more conscious, you got your Trap.
I think they all make sense in their own arena.
Dwele DJs in his spare time, and when asked if he’d ever further that career he told me:
I’ve been doing a lot of DJ gigs, I’m trying to set something up over here so I can come over here and do something.
It’s a lot of fun, I feel as though it’s another form of expression and for me really apart from being on a stage and doing something other than performing, like it’s a break from working, it’s a release for me.
Despite Greater Than One being the album that Dwele is promoting in his time here, I wondered if the singer was currently working on his follow-up:
I always have ideas, I haven’t started working on the album after that yet but I’m always putting down ideas, I have a studio at home.
When I officially start working I see that songs that I have and place them back to back and see what makes sense. At the end of the day I have about six or seven songs and I see what fits together and try to build a story around that.
And seeing as he’s spent some time in the capital of England, has Dwele embraced the slang and food of London?
Streets terms, ah man… let me see… no(laughing). I feel like it used to be good, my cockney used to be good but no, I need to brush up. Probably before I get on stage.
I’m gonna have to go get that Nando’s when we’re done! Gotta get that Nando’s and the Jazz Café do great food too.
And as a last note, Dwele discussed how he would be like to be remembered in another 10 years:
I wanna be known as that person that was the soundtrack to people’s lives, I wanna be apart of the episodes that people go through.
Dwele’s latest album Greater Than One is available on UK iTunes now.