The Australian Government provides us with incentives to reproduce, little do they know that all they have to do is bring Dwele down under and as soon as his lips hit the microphone the population will double. As I sit across Dwele, a very gifted musician who also likes to imitate Australian & British accents in his spare time, a reality check kicks in and I remember that he has worked with the likes of Slum Village, Kanye West and J Dilla. We’re at a venue called Jazz Café in London, which has a capacity of 350 people, where Dwele has already performed three sold out shows. Our background music is of his band members undertaking a sound check in preparation for their final show, and we joke around about how a fan ran on stage and grinded with him to break the ice. I interview Dwele about his upcoming strictly baby making album due to drop later this year, how a duck attacked him at the Australian Zoo and why he thinks J Dilla’s arm was an extension of an MPC. Margaret Tra writes.
How is the London tour going?
There were special moments in all my shows. The first show this chick ran on to stage and threw it on me. She almost knocked me out, the guard pulled her back off. She took the breath out of me. London tour is going fine, sad it’s ending. I love it here. I think we are coming back in September. London is like, I’ve been here, and I’m here every year. I am coming in September because the new album is dropping. I want to come to ‘Aussie’, make it happen.
How was the Australian tour you did with Brian McKnight?
Australia was cool; I spent the whole time tired. You know what I’m saying; I didn’t go out too much. The time difference was too much for me. So I didn’t really go out as much as I wanted too. We stayed for a minute. I finally got it together at the last city. We went out somewhere to a bar. The last night was fun. I got attacked by a duck at the zoo. I got that on camera, that’s going to be on YouTube soon.
You go to the Australian zoo to see the kangaroos and koalas, and you get attacked by a duck, what happened?
I don’t know what happened, he was mad at me. A duck attached me, a duck did. I was looking, filming the ducks coming out of the water, he walked up to me, and I was like oh he’s coming to me. And he attacked me. Tried to bite my shoe, then he was going for my pant legs. I was scared at first; I don’t know how ducks get down in Australia.
Did you understand everyone?
Yeah, for the most part. Ya’ll a little crazy with your r’s and o’s.
Tell us about the new album
The new album is in its beginning stages, I am thinking this time around I might want to make it super baby making. I want this joint sexy, all sex. This album is going to be all about all sex.
Tell us about “Dark side of the Mic”
Dark side of the Mic is something I did for London; it has little instruments I wanted to try out. I tested it, and in the process made a few joints and made it into an album. I just wanted it to be sold exclusively for shows, strictly for London.
Do the rest of us get to hear it?
I mean it’s not something I am putting out; I am not making it available for download. I wanted to make sure London got it first, now that I am going to different shows they will get it. As long as London gets it first.
Why is that?
Just because the whole album is about a story that happened in London, London is my home overseas. And London always shows a lot of love. So I wanted to do something back.
A lot of people were upset in Australia you just opened for Brian Mcknight and saw you just for that show. How does that make you feel?
Wow. I mean I had a ball in Australia; I would definitely love to come back to Australia with the band. It was definitely fun.
You recorded ‘The Rize’ in your bedroom, and now you’re doing sold out shows in London. How does that make you feel?
Crazy, it was crazy. I had no idea that doing that album would catapult a career for me you know what I’m saying. Like I always knew when I approached that album I just wanted to make 100 copies and sell it to my friends. Do a little side project. So I can go eat with it. That was the plan. I sold 100 and I was happy with that. After that 100 copies I was like I’m done, I’m good. I had an opportunity and I was young enough to still do it, and if it didn’t work out I could fall back into what I was doing. It was right place at the right time. When I made that album I was 20 years-old.
What was your fallback?
Triple A, I was in insurance. Actually I used to do trip tips. Before everyone had navigation, they would call this company if they were doing a trip to say London to Manchester. You would call in, say I’m going here. I would write the joint for you on this map, with a sharpie, not even a sharpie, a highlighter and I would route the perfect route for you to take. I get lost in Detroit all the time. If you need to go to Detroit to Kentucky I can help you, but once we are in the city I have horrible sense of directions. That was the worst job for me. I did learn as far as getting state to state, but in the city I am terrible.
What was it like working with Dilla?
Dilla was crazy; I always say that the MPC was an extension of his arm. It was part of him; I always said he was a court room stenographer too. They are the people that sit down and take the minutes in the courtroom. On an MPC his fingers were fly, you couldn’t grasp what he was doing. Definitely a talent and I learned a lot from him. If I ever got lost on the MPC, I would call him and be like “Yo I got a problem,” he’d respond with “Oh yeahh, fo sho, ffo shoo, what’s up? He got a stutter, “sssuuup.” He always had a solution, and he always knew everything. He might as well have made it himself.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of artists, Slum Village, Kanye West, Dilla to name a few, who was your favourite?
I come out of every situation better, learning a new way to approach a song. I think everyone approaches a song differently, I enjoy all of them.
It is a safe answer, let me think. You know what? I really had a lot of fun with Boney James. Boney James is a jazz saxophone player. I did some work with him on his album. We had a lot of fun in the studio. He’s a Jewish guy but he’s really black. At the time I used to wear braids, I always wore a hat. And we used to have competitions with hats, and he would come into the studio with his, and I would come in with my new joint. Like man, holler at your man. He was a lot of fun in the studio.
You dropped out of College; do you think it’s important for musicians to go considering how successful you’ve become?
Depends on what you’re trying to do with your music. I wouldn’t deter anyone who wants to go to college. Because I know at certain times I wish I did have the book knowledge behind music. But at the same time it’s about balance. If you can go to college and still have the creativity/originality then do it. But some people go to college and loose their originality. Its more fun operating when you don’t know it’s a box.
What stimulates your soul?
Music does stimulate my soul. Life stimulates. Situations. (Laughs)