Andwele “Dwele” Gardner is a multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer from Detroit, Michigan. I would describe him as an R&B, soul, contemporary, jazzy kind of a singer, with a hip-hoppy edge, if that makes an sense. He recorded his first demo, The Rize, in his bedroom and sold the copies right out of the trunk of his car. Catching the attention of Detroit’s own, Slum Village and their producer, J. Dilla, he was asked to sing the hook for Tainted.
Soon after, he began working with several other artists such as Lucy Pearl, London’s New Sector Movement, Bahamadia, Roy Ayers, Boney James and Earth, Wind and Fire. He also worked on one of my favorite Grammy-winning songs with Kanye West, Flashing Lights. Look out for his new album, Greater Than One in stores August 28, 2012. Order yours now!
After meeting Dwele on his What Profit video shoot in Detroit, in May of this year, I realized that this is a very inspirational guy. He just comes off so serene, mysterious, and different. I asked him a few questions about his life and music. Maybe he can inspire some of you to follow your passion.
The best thing to do is stay diligent to your craft, do it for the love, and if the opportunity arises, be ready.
1. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Detroit on the west side in the Joy Road area.
2. What type of music do you make? Who is it for?
I do everything from jazz to hip hop to house, but I’m known for doing soul music. I started off making music for myself. I still do; it’s a release for me, and I’m glad people enjoy it. I make music for anyone who needs music for their moment, whatever their moment is. I like to call my music the soundtrack for life.
3. Who/what inspired you to express yourself through music?
Before my father passed, he bought me a toy organ and taught me a few chords on it. I felt that sitting at that toy organ and playing notes was a way to keep a part of him with me after he passed. After a while I learned how to put my feelings into my music and lyrics.
4. Do you have a favorite singer? If so, who is it?
I’d probably have to say my favorite voice is Donny Hathaway.
5. What is your favorite song?
That is the most impossible question ever asked. lol
6. What are your plans/aspirations/goals for your music career?
My goal was to get my music heard outside of just my family and friends. lol. I feel like I have accomplished that. I think the beautiful thing about this industry is that you never know what’s in store for you in the future. I would have never guessed I’d get signed as a singer…ten years and 5 albums later…I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me. I’m along for the ride.
7. How do you feel about the competition amongst artists in Detroit? Is it all love? Is there hatred? How do you deal with it?
I don’t even look at it as competition. But the way I see it may be totally different from another artists’ perspective. It’s definitely all love from my stand point. I think it’s less of a hate thing in Detroit and more of a lack of support from our own people and stations more so than an artist to artist thing.
8. Any advice for people trying to get into the music game?
The game is a lot different now compared to when I got in. I think to get into the game now, an artist needs to take advantage of the fact that you do not need a label to create a fan base in 2012. In a way it’s a gift and a curse. The fact that you can do everything yourself, from creating a single to shooting a video, is a plus. The negative to that is, since anybody can do it now, everybody is doing it, which in turn creates more artists and less listeners. lol. In a way you have to go that extra mile to separate yourself or stand out, to show that you have something different to bring to the table than the rest of the artists. The best thing to do is stay diligent to your craft, do it for the love, and if the opportunity arises, be ready.