Dwele: The "Greater Than One" Interview with Melody Charles

In the twelve years that Dwele’s evolved from selling self-made demos in his native Detroit to becoming one of the most popular purveyors of Neo-Soul, the multi-instrumnentalist, producer, singer and songwriter has developed a devoted fan base, heightened his profile and continues to create incredible music, evidenced by the release of his latest CD, Greater Than One.

On the verge of a tour and enjoying the warm reception to his latest Top Ten R&B charting album, Dwele spoke with me from his hometown about the recording process, his most hated-on song and the lowdown behind his infamous panty purge…..

MELODY CHARLES- Congratulations at the Number Six Independent Charts spot and another Top Ten R&B hit Dwele, we’re loving the new CD.

In the twelve years that Dwele’s evolved from selling self-made demos in his native Detroit to becoming one of the most popular purveyors of Neo-Soul, the multi-instrumnentalist, producer, singer and songwriter has developed a devoted fan base, heightened his profile and continues to create incredible music, evidenced by the release of his latest CD, Greater Than One.

On the verge of a tour and enjoying the warm reception to his latest Top Ten R&B charting album, Dwele spoke with me from his hometown about the recording process, his most hated-on song and the lowdown behind his infamous panty purge…..

MELODY CHARLES- Congratulations at the Number Six Independent Charts spot and another Top Ten R&B hit Dwele, we’re loving the new CD.

DWELE- “Thanks, I really appreciate it; the response has been great about the album, I’ve even heard a lot of people comparing it to Subject and Some Kinda: nothing will ever be the first album because the first is always special, but to hear people say that it takes them back those sounds, it’s a good feeling.”

MC- There is a retro-type vibe to the music on this one, I get them on that point. Was that on purpose?

DWELE- “Nah, that wasn’t intentional; I noticed the CD having the 80s feel about four songs in, so I made about four more tracks that purposefully carried that vibe, and then I made sure the rest were outside of that era, just to round it out. I feel like each song has its own personality and its own identity, as opposed to the previous albums, where I was telling a whole story.”

MC- One of the songs, “Going Leaving,” was prefaced as a ‘true story.’ Can you elaborate on that for me?  

“Yes, that’s actually a true story and I felt like it was something that everybody could relate to, especially the guys who felt like they weren’t ready for something more, then wondered if they messed up by letting it go. In my case, what was once a romance turned into a great friendship, and it still is to this day.  At the time that it could’ve been more, I wasn’t really ready for more, so she moved on with her life. It got to the point where it was never gonna be what is whas before, but we learned to turn it into that different type of relationship, and that’s what we now have.”

MC- What’s the next single? 

DWELE- I’m feeling like it’ll be the one with Raheem DeVaughn, “What You Gotta Do,” a lot of people online are talking about it. Once I finished the concept, I just knew that I needed to reach out to him to help me on it.

MC-You and Raheem seem to work well together, will we ever see a full-length project from the two of you?

DWELE- “Oh yeah, we’ve talked about that a couple of times and we definitely want to make it happen, it’s just a matter of timing.”

MC- I’ve read that many consider you “The King of Neo Soul,” how do you feel about that?

“(laughs) I’ve been blessed to the type of music that I love to do and it’s even better that people are out here checking for it. I always make the music makes me happy, but I also try to make it the soundtrack of people’s lives. I listen to all of the other soul makers too, but if that’s what they call me, I’ll take that title all day.”

MC- Who else is on the come-up from the Detroit music scene?

DWELE- “The scene is big, yet still underrated, and it’s home to a lot of great and talented musicians.  We’ve got everything from gospel, soul, the hip-hop scene, the techno scene is huge and always has been. As for the artists I think you need to check for, I’m vouching for the ones who did background work on Greater Than One, like J Tait, Monica Blaire, L’Renee and Black Milk--- I’m in the process of putting some stuff together with them and those are the ones I’d put my money on.

MC-I’ll be glad to see you back on stage again Dwele: by the way, do you still get shade behind that 2008 “I’m Cheatin’” single?

DWELE- “(cracks up) Before we made the video, the first time I performed it in a venue, the older women just had a scowl on their faces like they hated me, so I thought, ‘Well damn, maybe I need to explain it.’ After I did, everybody had a good laugh about it, so from that moment, I learned that I had to explain that song everytime before I perform it.”

MC- Well, besides you making sure you keep the love, what else do you hope audiences get out of your performance?

DWELE-“With every show, I try to make it as intimate as I can, to make it feel like it’s in a small venue even when it’s not. I’m hoping they’re getting a cooled-out, laid-back vibe cuz’ when the songs get more party-like, I want them to get there and party with me, like the ‘Dodgin’ Your Phone’ song. Hopefully that’s what’s coming across.”

MC- A lot has changed in the music business since you pressed and sold your own music back in the day Dwele, so what kind of advice would you give a new artist?

DWELE-“Personally, I wouldn’t change anything that I did, but if I could’ve helped it, I wouldn’t have gone the major label route. Today you don’t have to do that to get a video or a single out. If you’ve got good enough equipment or a good enough eye, you can do that for free practically, so now I would urge artists to find what is is about them that stands out, situate that and do it for themselves, that way you can control everything.”

MC-You mean your singles, your musical input, or……

DWELE-“Definitely:  in some situations I went along with it: sometimes the label would say ‘We need you to cut this song,’ and if I didn’t like the jiont, they’d ask me to do it anyway and say ‘don’t worry about it, if it doesn’t work, we can take it off’ and they would still end up running with it. I’m not gonna say what particular song that happened with, but  it’s part of being with a major label because you’re under their control.”

MC-With you getting that TV exposure through your alliance with McDonald’s on their McCafe project, are you going to be doing anything else on the small screen?

DWELE- “Maybe. Possibly in the near future. We’ll have to see.”

MC- So something’s in the works I take it? Is it coming this year or next year?

DWELE-“(chuckles) Yeah.”

MC- Okay, keep playing it coy, I’ll get it out of you sooner or later Dwele. Before we wrap this up, I do need to clarify a few things for the single ladies out there: what’s up with the panty collection story going around on the internet?

DWELE-“Getting rid of my panty collection was not because I was locking down, so to speak, but because I didn’t want my moms trying to come in, clean up my place and find a whole bunch of drawers.  I would have to explain to her why they’re there and (laughing) ….I decided to go ahead and get rid of ‘em.”

MC- Okay, that makes sense. So that means you’re still single and ‘taking applications,’ so to speak?

DWELE- “OH yeah, definitely taking applications.”

MC- What will get your attention, and what would make you go get a restraining order?

DWELE- “I love spontanaeity; I like a girl that can be in sweats and t-shirt and still be beautiful, I like a comfortable and naturally beautiful woman. Now what will turn me off is if she doesn’t have anything going on, so she gets too attached and wants to be under me 24/7. When I have business to handle, I don’t want to be unable to do that because she needs me around just to get through her day. I’ve been through that already and that type of thing just really turns me off. A lot.”

MC- Can’t argue with you on that one Dwele, glad to see you still in the game and making the hits, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

DWELE-“Thank you for that, I appreciate it.” 

 

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