Published on July 1st, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
The Hype Magazine Interviews: Crystal Waters
It’s been well over seventeen long years removed from your third and final self-titled studio LP — So, where have you been? And, what exactly have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, since your last solo outing?
I’m sure to the the Hip-Hop community (it) may feel I’ve been absent from the scene, but I would beg to differ. In the dance community, I have been very active. I’ve been very active in dance music conventions and songwriting forums. After my last album in 1997, I signed to Strictly Rhythm/RCA Records. Before I could finish the album, the label declared bankruptcy and because of contract issues it was (a) few years before I could record again. In the past decade, I’ve (had) several major European hits; including (Dutch’s) “My Time,” “Destination Calabria,” (from Alex Gaudino), “Blow” [a collabo with Harry Romero, Armand Pena & Alex Alicea] (and) “Say Yeah,” (featuing Fred Pellichero,) to name a few. Last year, I had a #1 hit on the Billboard Dance Charts with (Chris Cox & DJ Frankie’s) “(Oh) Mama Hey,” which was named one of the Top 50 Dance Songs of 2013. My recent release, “Be Kind,” with StoneBridge, has also started off very well. I have several singles being released in the upcoming months. I’ve been very active in dance music conventions and songwriting forums. I’ve spent lots of time walking the Halls of Capitol Hill with the DC Grammy Board, campaigning for music rights, specifically Bill HR8; the USA, China and Iran are the only countries that do not pay artists radio performance rights. Most recently, The Copyright Act, copyrights have been reverting artists who have songs prior to 1972 are no longer getting paid due to a technicality. We are talking money streams being cut off!
…From 2010 to 2013, I owned an internet radio station called ‘ClubHeads Radio,’ which featured mixes and interviews for Top DJ’s and Artists. I’m very active writing top-lines for other dance artists and touring. I also just recorded a track with Malik Yusef for the Hip Hop Caucus; a remake of Philip Bailey’s “Children of the Ghetto.” The album is called Home; the album is to bring light to the effects of global warming.
Although you’ve drooped a single or feature on someone else’s work(s) here and there, you have remained largely absent from the music scene –Why have you opted to take so much time off from doing your own music?
As for why I haven’t made an album is because it has been a singles market, album sales are low. The cost of spending a year working on an album was not worth the return. Because — in the dance world — DJ’s are the hot ticket, I purposely aligned myself with Top DJ’s to get my music out; which has worked very well for me. In recent months, House Music — which is my genre — has been making a comeback. With the success of the Disclosure album, I decided now might be a good time to release an EP, which is coming along very nicely. It will be an all House Music album.
How has not only the music business itself, but even more-so YOU, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into it?
Well, we know the music business has changed, keeping up with it is the tricky part…With digital sales and promotions, I’ve spent a lot of time online self promoting, even with a PR person. The new thing is streaming; no more downloads. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will work out well for artists. I think the revenue streams will be higher. It takes sharing downloads out of the equation. For my latest release “Be Kind,” we have focused on Spotify which are garnering great results.
…As for me personally, I’ve grown a lot. I enjoy being in control of my own career, I enjoy being an independent artist. I practice TM [Transcendental Meditation] daily, which has caused me to be more centered and focused. I still love music and being in this industry.
Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Longevity…Ha, Staying alive?! *Giggles* I think “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” has a lot to do with (it). The song is remixed, sampled and released at least once a year, if not more. The kids may not know me, but they know the song.
What has been the ultimate key to your success?
I get up everyday still hungry to write and perform, looking for something new…The key to my success? I would have to give it to God…Meditation, affirmations and positive thinking. I have to be centered in that to have anything work in my life.
Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Outside aspirations…Well, I’ve always wanted to write a book. One I have in the works is about my aunt, (blues-jazz-gospel vocalist and actress) Ethel Waters. There have been many books written about her, but none of the authors took the time to interview my family. I would like to present that side. I also have a jazz album that I’ve been working on.
On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of House/Dance? And, as an extension to this question, where do you “fit in” when it comes to the overall trending sound-scape of today’s music?
Yes, I’m very happy with the state of dance music; it’s always evolving. I give thanks to the EDM kids, because back in the ’90’s they told us, “Our music wasn’t shit, it was a fad, go do some real music!”…EDM and the dance music genres have proved them wrong. They are validating us. I’m very happy that I was a part of it, and plan on continuing (to be).
Since everyone either knows you already, or will become familiar with you, for and through your music, what would you want these same people to know about Crystal Waters that they won’t get from listening to your record(s)?
What I want people to know? I have big heart, sometimes too big…Also, I really, really love writing; I love wordplay. If you’re a songwriter out there, please study your craft; it is a gift.
What would these same people find you doing in your off/spare time, completely away from the music?
My spare time…Hmm…Interviews? *Laughs* I love hangin’ with my family, doing big dinners, game night etcetera. I try and take a class when I can; photography, painting, etcetera.
To date, what has been your biggest career moment?
My biggest career moment…Dont’ know if that’s happened yet. I’ve met a lot of great people and been around the world hundreds of times, but I think I really would like to win a Grammy.
Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
5 or ten years from now? I’ll probably still be singing “Gypsy (Woman)!” *Laughs heartily* 10 years from now, I plan on having the house by the beach with my feet up, maybe writing another book.
As for the immediate, what’s next for Crystal Waters?
Immediate future, I have the “Be Kind” release, the Home release. Also, I’ve remixed “100% (Pure Love)” for the 20th anniversary; got some big DJ’s on it! There is also another release called “Everyday” on Nervous Records with Murk.
Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?
Please come check me out…You can find me on: Facebook.com/IamCrystalWaters, www.Iamcrystalwaters, Instagram: CrystalWaters and Twitter/CrystalWaters1.
By: Todd Davis