Wednesday, August 24, 2016

8/24/16 Just Reflecting with Dexter Kendrick

Written by Anwar Curtis

What is ones reasoning to pursue a dream, its purpose and even their end result? I had the opportunity to sit down with Dexter Kendrick, an independent recording artist, and as we talked about July’s Singer’s Lounge show, we both found out that we had something in common. Both Dexter and I understand how relationships and culture are molded and why they are so important especially when one is living his or her dreams. Sit back and while Dexter Kendrick just reflects on his past and present musical journey.

Anwar Curtis: You have been an indie recording artist for over a decade. Seasons have changed along with technology. Has platforms such as social media helped with your success when looking at you building your brand and relationships with DJ’s both nationally and internationally?

Dexter Kendrick: Right after I released my first big project “Galaxy a Memoir” in 2011, I started working with a management company in Washington D.C. Delonte Briggs began booking shows for me in the indie circuit up and down the east coast. Delonte would push my material to certain people like Bola Sonola, and Lagos, which is a Caribbean neo-soul movement. He would also submit some of my material to Deejay Yella, a London DJ. Yella would then hit me up to see if he could spin my music and for promo drops. Also Neo the Soul based out of London became part of my network. I found out that most of the dj’s were all connected and with their help that’s how music gets disseminated.

Anwar Curtis: Do you believe in the degrees of separation and its theory when it comes to your career as an indie artist?

Dexter Kendrick: It is so important and extremely realistic. Now a days you don’t have to wait on labels. There are mainstream artist who are getting kicked off labels so there really is no safety nets available anymore. Artists do not have to wait for someone to give them permission to create, if so they are “waiting valuable life-time.” The most important part of being an indie artist is giving yourself power to make your music and then get people to like your music. But honestly, the first important thing is to like your own music. When I released “Prelude” May 2016, I did not know the market because I took such a long hiatus. In 2005 Instagram wasn’t big, as a matter of fact we just got done with Myspace. So when I released Prelude, it was not for instant success. It was a pure introduction to this next project Dexterity, which I will begin releasing music fall 2016.

Anwar Curtis: You have so many musical sounds. What inspired Preludes body of work?

Dexter Kendrick: Beautiful’s fist verse and chorus was written in 2003 and then what thirteen years passes and it is now being released which tells me that creativity comes in waves. Just because a song is written today doesn’t mean it needs to be shared today. It’s all about climate, timing, and feeling. I wanted to make music for this next resurgence to say hey guys I’m still alive. I’m back and get ready for something big. I wanted those five songs to have a movement in themselves. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and get in tune with the sound of the 70’s. Jaren Tucker helped me finish writing Beautiful, and he explained to me having something slow on this project is something you cannot forget about. With that he took one day and completed the song.

Anwar Curtis: With the body of work you have been releasing and your work ethic in the Harrisburg market, are you happy with your progress as of late? You headlined your own show back in 2014 at the PM BISTRO & LOUNGE. How was that experience?

Dexter Kendrick: We had 180 people at that event. I had not released a project since 2011 and for that crowd to be in attendance I kept saying to myself, all these people are not here to see me, but I was the headliner lol. I was extremely humbled and touched by that. I didn’t know that many people knew me. Even when I perform now, when people are clapping I’m saying to myself who are they clapping for! I am an internal type of guy, so it takes me a few days to get the external feeling.

Anwar Curtis: Ok, so we have to talk about your latest performance. July’s Singer’s Lounge 90’s edition you performed along with other stars that have been helping with the show. Melissa Wilson went right before you and I noticed you grooving as always but this time it was different. I assumed because the 90’s era, being your era had so much to do with it lol. Explain what was going through your mind during her performance and the emotions during yours.

Dexter Kendrick: Honestly ever since February I have been the biggest fan of he Singer’s Lounge and my colleagues. I’ve gotten on stage every month not for people to look at me, but because I don’t want the event itself to die. This city has not had a showcase for individuals to perform soul music, not to an instrumental but live. For the entire house to be busting out of the scene in population, it means the city has been hungry for that for a while. So for the 90’s show lol, for me to get on stage during the second verse of Jodeci’s “forever my lady” and the words stop coming to me for those ten seconds and my background singers to be looking at me like deer’s in headlights, I just used my teleprompter which was my phone and kept rocking. A lot of singers use teleprompters during their performances and you never know.

Anwar Curtis: What were your thoughts the next day?

Dexter Kendrick: Funny because I didn’t want to talk about the performance the next day. Keya Wilson who has real love for me put up a video and tagged me which was the best 50 seconds of my performance so unless you were actually there, would never know the hiccup that occurred.

Anwar Curtis: Being a musical activist in your hometown, do you feel like Harrisburg is finally catching on and people are ready to support their hometown musicians?

Dexter Kendrick: I think the people and artists from Harrisburg are reclaiming their power and saying we are here. Socially that’s a conversation many different communities are having. I do also see the roadblocks to claiming your expression and freedom, which is also socially happening in a number of communities and Harrisburg, is not exempt from those movements and struggles, with the singer’s lounge included.

Anwar Curtis: Agreed. Now I wanted to talk a little bit about Dexter Kendrick the person and Dexter Kendrick the artist. Before social media hit, people could only imagine who their favorite entertainer was outside of lyrically content and movie roles. Is there a difference between you as an artist and a person?

Dexter Kendrick: Of course there’s always a personal touch when creating something and that would be Dexter Kendrick the person. I am an artist and a storyteller so there is some embellishment always because you have to fill up three minutes of space lol. From past experiences I have learned a lot about marketing. I use to go to photo shoots and the photographer would ask me what type of shots I would like and my response would be what do you think I should. That’s when I realized as an artist I had no direction. In 2015 I got a new manager and the first thing he asked me was, if I could be any type of character who would it be. Meaning I needed to embody something for the public to reference. So the character I’ve embodied is James Bond. He doesn’t break a sweat, he has swag, appeals to the ladies, and high class. My music is still my music. For instance the Marvin Gaye cover “what’s going on” I released; an online magazine used the song to give more love to Orlando right after the shooting. I recorded that song originally because of the tension both social, community wide, and globally posing questions to our civilization as human beings and that song ended up being used to call awareness that musicians are also concerned because we are human beings. Also situations like Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray ETC, impact me directly, maybe not today but who is to say one day I wont end up on the six o’clock news because of the type of shoe I’m walking in that day.

Anwar Curtis: Do you see yourself being more political with your music moving forward?

Dexter: Kendrick: If it is needed. If it is warranted than that is a conversation anybody with a platform is obliged to cover even if it’s minimum. Rather it be an interlude, outro, poem, or what it is that illustrates the artistic climate of the culture. Yes, if you want your audience to patronize you or bend their ear in your direction. People were coming for Beyonce for her Freedom and Formation song. One blog said she was leaving her “white girl status” for her “black girl status” in regards to her black girl problems. That conversation was warranted. She has many male family members that are affected by these issues. She’s a businesswoman and she used her platform to discuss the current topics.

Anwar Curtis: You touched on a lot and I don’t see you slowing down with your music career to say the least and you actually care about your music’s stigma. Now I like to end my interviews with this last question. If you could give one characteristic of you to the world through your music what would it be?

Dexter Kendrick: I want people to feel like it’s Saturday morning in 1979. Their parents cleaning and them watching Soul Train, turning the volume up and just letting it rock. Every album of mine, I want it to be a production and not just putting songs together. It’s telling you a story with the attempt to move the listener’s body even if they do not know the words. The stories I tell are all our stories and that’s what I want people to take from all of my projects.

Like What You See? Well Follow Dexter Kendrick Here