Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Don-E: From infinity to beyond

Don-E Don-E

Where did the good stuff go? Have you turned the radio lately and thought ‘is this even music?’ Our radio stations are being dominated with pop, though it is being labelled as Hip-Hop and R&B because of the race of the artist.

Even respectable artists like Usher have become quite commercialised, producing forgettable mainstream tracks that seem to have lost every possible existence of a bass line. Don-E, one of the UK’s soul sensations from the 90’s has also noticed this discourse.

Don-E made an impact on the music scene with his single ‘Love makes the world go round’ in 1992, which was followed by his debut album ‘Unbreakable’, which made the top 20 in the UK and USA charts. Since then he has been song writing and recording with other artists like the Sugababes, D’Angelo and Cee-lo. I caught up with the soul legend Don-E for a conversation about the state of our music today.

NAOMI: I will get strait to you last album ‘Natural’, what was the reception like for that?

DON-E: It was better than the one before! The reception was much better and it seems to be a slow burner. It is still sells; people are still going out and getting it. So for me the reception was really good, and it is likely to be my favourite album out of all the ones that I have done.

NAOMI: The album sounded slightly different from the other albums, a little less soul and a whole lot more R&B. We all enjoyed it but why the change?

DON-E: There are a few sides to me so I tried to tap into the R&B side.

NAOMI: From growing up in the 90s, listening to the radio now and comparing it to then the music sounds so much different. Was that one of the reasons that you had younger Pop artists on your album, to try to fit onto the mainstream scene?

DON-E: I guess so for the kids and the youths now that know the Sugar Babes, to have a name like that on my album of soul. It’s just to let them know and so that every generation can have it.

NAOMI: I think that this generation needs it...

DON-E: Yeah and they really need it. I listen to the radio now and I think yeah... its okay but where’s the good stuff, where’s that good soul? The old tunes are always the best ones. So as for me I don’t care I’m still going to have make that old vibe, but to get it across to the I have to bring in current artists.

NAOMI: Yes that is so true, for the UK anyway. In the states you have artists like Kem who are doing quite well in the chars on the soul vibe, why isn’t it like that for similar artist here in the UK?

DON-E: In America you have a bigger audience, if one state likes your music and buys then, as an artist; you can live off of that. And there are more black people in America that will go out and buy your stuff, whereas there aren’t many of us here. And over here the way that the radio is set up, they dictate what you here. People who play me can only play me after 10 o’ clock at night.

NAOMI: What are you doing now? Natural was two years ago, can your fans expect anything from you in the future?

DON-E: I’m in the process of making my new album, as well as doing some production and song writing. I’ve been touring with Grace Jones, some sessions with Sean Kingston, Ceelo’s new single we worked on the remix for that.

NAOMI: So you have been busy then?

DON-E: Yes definitely, if you look on some of the back of your record you will see my name back there.

NAOMI: Would you want to break into the mainstream scene and become a household name again as a commercial artists like some others.

DON-E: I wouldn’t mind that would mean that I am making some money and I can’t say no to that. As long as I can keep the integrity and can keep it soulful and still do that then that’s great. But if it means that it is a slow burner then I wouldn’t mind, there is nothing else that I was put on the planet to do.

NAOMI: What about other genres, would you venture out to something else like soulful house?

DON-E: I love funky but, I do that as well but I wouldn’t turn to it but I am doing a project. I’ve done stuff with the fanatics to name a few; yeah I’m doing the house thing as well.

NAOMI: I can really image you on the scene as well.

DON-E: I’ve got a bunch of soulful house tracks that I have recorded and nobody has heard before, so I’m going to try to get them all on one project and put it out.

NAOMI: When are going to release the new album?

DON-E: I’m in the process of trying to do it for the first quarter of next year, I’m looking at April, get it out in time for summer in time. It works well in the sun, I wrote a lot of it in Barbados while I was on tour with Grace, basically everywhere we went was summer so I was writing and vybing.

NAOMI: What is this album going to sound like?

DON-E: This is going to more rare grooves, a lot like the track ‘stairwell’, more of that. But people that have heard it so far say it sounds kind of ‘Princey’. There are quite a few tracks for the lovers. Hopefully it will be out for the summer.
Words Naomi Phillip

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