It’s an extreme honour to interview not only an incredibly vibrant soul but also an award winning vocalist that has remained at the very forefront of the industry for so many years. It flies without question, that she aptly deserves to bellow the immortal words ‘I AM HOUSE’ as loud and proud as a universal ambassador of the scene.
Following on from a behemoth new release we get to hear the views of one of the most talented song writers of our decade. Read on and learn a little more about the background of this definable diva of dance and how she approaches her music.
Welcome Crystal we really admire your contribution to the House Music industry. To be named one of the most successful dance artists of all time is quite an accolade. Gaining so many profile awards clearly shows your talent is widely recognised by consumers and industry has it been a hard passage or an easy ride to the top?
“Well I was really lucky that my first song Gypsy Woman took me to the top straight out of the gate. The hard part is staying on top, keeping up on the game and staying relevant. It’s also the fun part. I love dance music , I love the game and proud to be a part of it.”
Outside of music what would be your biggest achievement?
“My children. I’ve managed to raise 2 beautiful daughters that I’m very proud of.”
Would you say the music industry is as competitive now as it was in the 90’s with the sort of budgets that were on offer to major artists, and what has changed?
“I think it’s more competitive now because everyone can release a song. It’s much more easier to get lost in the mix. In the 90’s you had to spend a lot of money because you didn’t have the technology you have now. Back then a good video cost 150-250k. The same video today may not cost more than 10k.”
Your career has spanned multiple decades, what actually drives you and keeps you forging forward with a desire to share your skillset?
“Well I’m a songwriter, that’s who I am. It’s what I have to do or I’ll be miserable. So I’ll always be writing songs weather you hear them or not lol. I especially love dance music because it uplifts and brings people together. It’s also ever expanding. Other music genre’s basically haven’t changed in decades. Dance music as you know has expanded into many sub-genres. You have to remember when I started they said dance music was a passing fad, it would never last.”
Does it get easier to place records with labels once an artist gains a certain calibre or does the pressure and expectation build up and politics often get in the way?
“It never gets easy, your new song is always compared to your last hit, it better be bigger faster, stronger. So you have your own mindset to deal with and the expectation of others. You also have to place your song with the right label that fits what you want to do with the song, not just the label with the most money. Money does not always equal success.”
Outside of your own iconic songs what 3 house records would you say have either touched or influenced you personally or professionally and why?
“Barbara Tucker – Beautiful People, The Bucketheads – The Bomb, Dennis Ferrer – I Heard You Say (Hey, Hey) … Why? Because of the emotional connection I feel when I hear them… it’s hard to explain… House is a feeling.”
Basement Boys provided a poignant period in our scene, retrospectively revered to present day, was your early days working with them crucial to your style and also breaking through?
“Oh yes, they introduced me to House Music, without them I wouldn’t be here. They allowed be to be myself. I didn’t have the big gospel voice like everyone else but they believed in my uniqueness which caused me to believe in myself . They loved my style of song writing and didn’t want me to change for anything… still to this day.”
You seem to hold the perfect recipe to write Number 1 hits and with music that transcends time. Is there a certain element modern producers and artists should really try to master? For example your induction to the American Poetry Society was that your formation of song writing skills?
“Well I always say study your craft. A lot of people don’t know I studied poetry or that I come from a jazz music family. Music was always a part of my life. I see a lot of people just wanting to be famous or make a lot of money. I see people trying to outsmart everyone on the business side… waste of time.
You’ve got to love writing for the love of writing, for the satisfying feeling of doing your best. Once you do that it doesn’t matter if it’s a hit. Only way to do your best is study your craft, learn its history, learn music theory. It will give you legs to stand on forever.”
Do you let the producer or engineer do the work or are you very active in how the recording is captured and which components are kept?
“OH, I’m Very active lol… I usually receive tracks from DJ/producers. Lot’s of times I have to edit tracks to put them into song writing form. I recorded my vocals with one of my favourite engineers. I have a certain process that I go through to make sure I have the perfect tone for the song. Not every song should be sung at the top of your lungs, sometimes a whisper is more effective. Then I record and send the vocals produced, usually the DJ/producer can just drop the vocal into the track. I’ve found that some of the young DJ/producers are really just remixers and don’t know what to do with a raw vocal.”
Tell us something we don’t already know about Crystal Waters:
“I have a skincare line for men called Boyface… check it out www.boyfaceme.com”
How did your recent collaboration on Dopewax come about, and is this going to be an ongoing collaboration with Kidzblock?
“I Am House is a song I did with DJ/Producers Sted-e and HybridHeights. We were about to shop it when Kenny Dope heard me sing it at the #IAMHOUSE party we had at the ADE. He said he wanted it… and that was that. I love Mr.V I hope we do something else together.”
How do you approach vocal arrangements and do you have a set format or just vibe it out according to the song?
“Well, I get the track, I vibe to it. I count bars. If it’s not right, I’ll do an arrangement or an edit. I decide where the verse, hooks and bridge are. Then I go in for the melody, this may take days or weeks to get right. Once I get that, I go for the lyrics, this may also take days or weeks. Once I get all that done I leave it alone for a few days. When I come back to it and I still love it I book the studio.”
Tell us about either – your toughest issue to overcome or an inspirational quote you think will ignite others:
Inspirational quote “this too shall pass” Inspirational affirmation “things always work out for me”
We know you deliver RNB to Pop and also Dance, what is your favourite genre and would you revert back to your Jazz roots given the chance or do you think that actually underpins your vibe?
“I Am House… if you take a close listen you’ll realise my vocals are jazz vocals.”
You’re vocal hooks are second to none, do you write them independently or are these taken from ideas you have already penned awaiting the ideal backdrop?
“I write them.”
Do you believe in spending time on the dancefloor or steer clear of clubs if you aren’t actually performing or a special guest?
“I’m in the club just about every weekend and I dance!
Listen to the latest Crystal Waters performance:
Do you know house? When the dancefloor educates, you won't get homework, you get House-werq'd. Bring on the lesson! A woman that needs no introduction and iconic songstress Crystal Waters teams up with NYC producers Sted-E and Hybrid Heights for a righteous self-proclaiming hit! "I Am House" brings a special kind of pure 4/4 with a number of distinct mixes all by notable East and West Coast remixers to the forefront. Jacob Colon puts forth a slammin' tribal-Latin house jam full of native percussion a proper builds for some peak hour energy. Hip House impresario Mr V teams up with his bud Will Reelsoul Rodriguez to form the Kidzblock production duo offer an all out spoken groove as deep as a groove can get. All in all they compliment original producers, Sted-E & Hybrid Heights remixes of pure club goodness. The playful lot is crowned off nicely by the featured remixes that come courtesy of the legendary House duo and multi award winning producers Kenny Dope & Louie Vega, pka Masters At Work, who drop a no holes-barred smack down epic mix that's sure to be a bonafide crowd-pleaser. If you don't know House, you will after this!
Posted by Sted-E & Hybrid Heights Official on Friday, February 2, 2018
Still actively firing up the global charts, we’re seeing Crystal Waters latest feature on the almighty Dopewax Records remind us that house is well and truly alive and a commodity that has stood the test of time. If you haven’t already listened to the latest release then track it down [link below]and purchase as fast as humanly possible. Hopefully this is just the beginning for monumental lyrics returning to clubland.