Dwele

Dwele

When Format caught up with Dwele, he had just finished giving a seminar at a public school in his hometown of Detroit — the culmination to a standard eight-hour workday. Grammy-nominated with a penchant for classical art, Andwele Gardner’s level of modesty is at once halting and refreshing.

Though he has collaborated with some of the greatest hip-hop, soul, and jazz acts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, his unassuming personality keeps his music inviting and comfortable. Behind his veil lies the brain of a multi-disciplinary genius. He may very well have shifted the paradigm of what it means to be an R&B artist for good.

“Make sure you’ve got some green lights in the crib; they like that. Make sure you’ve got lotion on your hands–that they’re not dry.”

Format: Your new album, Sketches of a Man, drops June 24th. Can you tell us a little about that?
Dwele: With this album I created an avenue for myself. It’s more hip-hop influenced than Some Kinda, while maintaining soul elements. Along with the songs, I’ve also included some of my artwork.

Format: How would you say your style and presentation have evolved from past offerings?
Dwele: In The Rize , there were no transitions. Since then, I’ve worked on my transitions and bridges. Also, The Rize was more hip-hop, whereas Some Kinda was jazzier. They all come together to paint a picture of who I am.

Format: Why did you choose to release this album on Koch, rather than Virgin Records?
Dwele: I had a two-album deal with Virgin, and nothing to base [an album deal] against. Now with an independent label, I get to compare the two. Also I have more creativity; it’s more hands-on.

Format: You list some of your older influences as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Musically speaking, who or what influences you on a contemporary level?
Dwele: All sorts of music: hip-hop and jazz, mostly. On an artist level, I’d say Roy Ayers, Eric Roberson, Musiq, and I even have some Lil’ Wayne on my iPod–that’s how it’s always been.

Format: What drives you on a personal level?
Dwele: Family, man. I gotta make sure my family is cared for.

Format: How has urban life impacted the way you make music?
Dwele: A lot of things in Detroit have influenced me. There are a lot of different vibes in this town; the city itself, “the beautiful dirt”–that’s a direct quote from my man Waajeed. I’m in touch with my surroundings, right down to the seasons.

Format: Can you describe your optimal recording conditions for us?
Dwele: The back room in my mom’s crib–that’s home–that’s what it is. When I’m there, you know I’ll be coming with that fire.

Format: Your bedroom anthems are untouchable. Any tips for romancing the fairer sex?
Dwele: [Laughs] Sure. Make sure you set the mood first. Make sure you’ve got some green lights in the crib; they like that. Make sure you’ve got lotion on your hands–that they’re not dry. Lastly, make sure you’ve got some Dwele bumping!

Dwele

Format: You play a handful of instruments, produce, and sing. How did you become such a multi-talented musician?
Dwele: It came about over a long period of time. When I was young, my father taught me to play the piano, and then I began taking lessons. I started playing trumpet in high school, and then picked up other things, like the guitar and bass.

Format: You’ve worked with some amazing artists throughout your career: Slum Village, Bahamadia, Jay Dee, and Kanye West, to name a few. Who was your favorite collaboration, and why?
Dwele: Surprisingly, Boney James. I was most at home with him, even in the studio. He would constantly crack jokes; you can hear me laughing in some of our tracks. I’ve had great experiences with everyone I’ve worked with, though.

Format: Your father was murdered when you were ten years old. Were the following years crucial to your musical development?
Dwele: Most definitely. He taught me the first few things about being a musician, and I keep a part of him with me wherever I go. I learned to put my emotions into music; it was my therapy. Eventually, I started adding lyrics to it. I’m constantly looking for different ways to express myself, from [music] to photography to poetry.

Format: Did they ever catch the killer?
Dwele: Yeah, they knew who he was. When they caught him, he pleaded insanity.

Format: Why do you think neo-soul is neglected, and what do you think needs to be done to popularize it?
Dwele: It doesn’t have the same money behind it as hip-hop does; it lacks the catchy hooks, glitz, and glamour. It needs more promotion. Neo-soul artists aren’t going super-platinum, but we’re still selling records. The music industry also needs to stop force-feeding [the public] bubblegum pop. I’m not hating though; like I said, I listen to some of that stuff. There also needs to be more balance on the radio.

Format: What is your next move?
Dwele: Following the album drop, I’m going to be putting together a tour. It will be international, and hopefully beginning at the end of June.

Format: Thanks so much for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dwele: I think that just about covers it. I want to thank everyone for supporting me and my music. Watch out for that tour! We’re doing it real big this year.

Im Cheatin – Dwele

Andrew Rennie

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5 comments

  1. super fly man……i’m said that i missed the opportunity to work with you when you came thru Memphis last year…….but 09 is the time! one love fam

  2. Yes this MAN IS SO FINE AND DEVINE HE IS DEFINATELY NOT OUT ENOUGH AND RECOGNIZED LIKE HE SHOULD BE BUT I WILL MENTION HIM TO EVERYBODY I KNOW OF HE SHOULD DO SOME CONCERTS OR SOMETHING CAUSE HE SOUNDS TO GOOD TO JUST GO AWAY LIKE THAT. IT’S GROUPS LIKE HIM
    MINT CONDITION, DONNELL JONES, JAGGED EDGE, MYRON AND SO MANY OTHERS WHICH DON’T GET THERE PROPER PUSH OUT THERE AND THEY JUST GO AWAY SO IT’S UP 2 US TO KEEP THEM ALIVE AND OUT THERE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AQUARIUS YOU GOT IT GOING ON U R 2 SEXY FOR WORDS.

  3. dwelefan4life says:

    People are truly sleeping on your talent. You are played everday on Pandora at work. Blessed to hear a talent like yours and sharing the same birthday is a special bonus! Dont stop what you’re doing. Thank you for real music.

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