Growing up in the state of Virginia, D.Folks knows what it’s like to start from the bottom and work his way up all by himself. Born Duane Fowlkes, this R&B singer/songwriter is not wasting anytime in the studio. “Home,” his single from his upcoming album, is already hitting airwaves.
Both Prince and Hathaway have had a tremendous influence on D.Folks, but he cannot forget those artists he has met personally as well. D.Folks has worked with some of today’s hottest artists including Floetry, Faith Evens, Nappy Roots and even performed in front of Erykah Badu.
With a ‘timeless’ sound and labels knocking at his door, D.Folks is definitely on the radar.
Singersroom: You’re from Virginia?
D. Folks: Yes, I’m from Richmond, Virginia.
Singersroom: Do you feel any pressure because of the amount of successful talent that comes out of Virginia?
D. Folks: No pressure at all. I feel like we haven’t had enough talent come out of here. I mean, we have a lot of talent as far as producers, but as far as what I do, I feel like the only other artist that has dropped out of Virginia, or out of V.A., would be D’Angelo that’s close to what I’m doing. Everybody else is doing something totally different.
Singersroom: Speaking of Virginia, you were featured on a song for the Re-Up Gang mixtape. How did that come about?
D. Folks: We did two or three songs for the Re-Up Gang mixtape. Just because that’s family. My manager, Anthony manages the Clipse and the Re-Up Gang. That’s family right there.
Singersroom: Can we talk about “Stacey Love?”
D. Folks: Oh, yeah. That’s my favorite song.
Singersroom: Yes, mine, too. Is the situation from a personal experience?
D. Folks: Let me tell you what happened. I was in New York about a year ago, me and the producer of the record, a guy named Nate Smith. While I was there, he was like, “Oh, by the way, I started another joint for you.” He plays the piano for a little bit, had the little strings in it and I freaked out. So, I put it in my iPod, left the studio and went walking around New York. I was walking around and you can see New York has so many types of different women. From Latinos, black, to white, you know everything. Asian. So, all the women in New York, they had this swagger and I just came up with the name Stacey Love. It sounds like a Prince record. So the song is about a play on love but she also can’t fall in love because she’s one of those chicks that’s moving. You know, in and out of area codes, men for different things. She might have a lawyer friend, a doctor friend, musician friend, athlete friend, but she just doesn’t commit. It’s cool for men to be like that sometimes; that’s how the world sees it. But when a female is like that it’s just unacceptable. That’s how we look at it. When I wrote the record it was just kind of like I saw a lot of the females in New York when I was walking around like they would be like that. Kind of like independent, not really worried about this and that.
Singersroom: Is that why the end is like that; the “call me” part?
D. Folks: Yeah, I’m trying to be hard and ignore her. She’s the type of female â you don’t hear from her for like two or three days and you’re like, “You know what, I’m not even calling her.” And then as soon as you see your phone ringing you’re like, “Oh, that’s her.”
Singersroom: When you say we in “Jupiter” are you only speaking for other artists that are like you or are you talking about people that are labeled as different in general?
D. Folks: When I first wrote the song I was thinking about other artists who don’t get credit for what they do. You can think of a slew of artists, there are only a few that get recognition. Like Lupe, John Legend, or Kanye West. But then you have other artists like Gnarls Barkley or Kenna that’s on Star Trak; you have N.E.R.D., their just getting some buzz even though Pharrell’s in the group. When you do something outside of the box, sometimes it’s rated as being so different. Like, “Oh, okay; we don’t understand.” What I’m saying is all my peers and all of the musicians and all of the people that really know me, they’re like, “That song is so dope.” But the industry is like, “We don’t understand that. How many spins did you get? How many records have you sold already?”
If you heard that Kanye and Jay-Z were turned down, you wouldn’t believe that now. You would be like, “What? They couldn’t get deals at first?” They were rejected, so it’s kind of the same story.
Singersroom: For the most part, artists that are labeled as different generally don’t sell. Would you rather be an artist that stay true to your music or one of the mainstream, “made it big” type?
D. Folks: I think I can overcome that with the type of music I’m doing. I think, honestly, I found a real way to ride that thin line of staying true to my art and also pleasing the masses. And that’s why when you hear my stuff, you really can’t compare, like, “Who’s this cat sound like?” I think I’m going to have the kind of impact that only a few artists have. You see that with artists like Alicia Keys; you see it with Kanye; you see it with those artists. They just have something different. It’s the same thing when you bought a Prince record back in the 80s, you could say, “Is Prince rock, is he soul, is he R&B, is he funk?” No, it was just Prince. I feel like I’ve developed a sound that when my thing takes off, like it’s taking off now, people would just say, “Oh, that’s D. Folk and he’s dope.”
Singersroom: How was “Home” chosen as your first single as opposed to something like “Stacey Love?”
D. Folks: We actually threw “Jupiter” out there first. “Jupiter” caught a real big buzz because we shot the video to it. But since it’s at urban radio; I am an urban artist, they’re scared of records like that. Usually, when you try to break a record like that you have to break it first to a white audience, a top 40 audience. It’s like that with the Gnarls Barkley song, “Crazy.” Urban wasn’t playing that at first and then when all the top 40 stations started playing it, urban jumped on the band wagon, like, “Okay, we’ve got to play this record now.” Samething with the Sean Kingston single, “Beautiful Girl.” You didn’t hear that at all. He was already up to a hundred and fifty some spins a week before urban started playing the record; it was on top 40 and pop stations.
I feel like it’s one of those records where you have a song that lays the foundation and develops you as an artist and then from there “Stacey Love” comes after that; it’s just that Grammy award winning record. It’s one of those records that’s a concept record, so you wouldn’t want to come out with it first. You want to come with something easy to the ears. You want to dumb them up, like, “Oh, “Home;” it’s a dope record. I’m feeling it.”
Singersroom: What has been the feedback that you’ve been getting from “Home?”
D. Folks: I’ve gotten all positive feedback from “Home.” We have over 200 spins nation wide, it’s in full rotation on Music Choice, a bunch of stations all across the USA, it’s in full rotation. I just received a call, I’m not going to say what label, from someone from a major label today. It was just like, “Hey, just wanted to let you know we saw you on the radar, we’re watching your fans and seeing what they’re doing.” I’m getting calls every week from different labels that are hearing “Home” and watching my fans.
Singersroom: So, you’re still looking for a label home?
D. Folks: Yeah, we have Soul Provider Entertainment. Me and my manager, we started Soul Provider Entertainment, which is the label portion of his management company.
Singersroom: Since you went back in the studio, does that mean your album will be delayed?
D. Folks: I don’t know if it’ll be delayed. Right now we’re done and the album is mastered, but I’m definitely going to put at least two or three of these tracks with Bink in because they’re crazy; they deserve space on my album. So, I’m in the process of recording now so we’re still good, we’re on track. Like I said, we’re still getting calls and offers.
Singersroom: How do you describe the sound of your album?
D. Folks: Laid back, a lot of energy. I think you can fall in love with all of the records. Just like you said, “Stacey Love” is the record that you’re feeling, it’s not just one record. I feel that every record makes up the album “Home.” I named the album “Home” and for those same reasons I told you before, home is where everything starts. It’s a feel good record; they’re all feel good songs.
Singersroom: How important do you think it is for an artist, or for you personally, to write your own music?
D. Folks: I think it’s real important. I think if you don’t write your own music then you are cheating the consumer. I’m not going to call people out but there are a bunch of artists, and we all know who they are, they have deals and yeah, they can dance, they can sing a little bit, but if you’re not a true artist where you at least produce or at least write your stuff, I think you’re cheating the consumer.
Singersroom: If you were to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
D. Folks: It would be “ready.” I’m ready to go.
Singersroom: Okay, how about one word to describe your music?
D. Folks: Timeless.
Singersroom: You mentioned Prince and Marvin Gaye before, but who are some more of your musical influences?
D. Folks: Fela Kuti, he’s an African jazz musician. He’s dope and a lot of people pull from him, like the Soul Aquariums, Questlove, D’Angelo, Common from the Water for Chocolate album; a lot of the grooves on there were Fela grooves. The Police, the Beatles, Donnie Hathaway; definitely because I grew up listening to that brother.
Singersroom: What’s next for you?
D. Folks: Finishing this album. I’m in the studio right now finishing my album. Getting with my music director, his name is Ken Friend. He plays with Ledisi, Byron Cage, a bunch of other people; getting with him, putting my show together. And just getting this deal done. Like I said, if we have to put it out independent on Soul Provider Entertainment, we’re prepared to do that. But I think I’m stirring up enough buzz right now; we’ve got a lot of offers, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on so it’s just any minute now. And when it does go down, it’s going to be quick because the album is done. Whoever picks it up, all they’re going to have to do is distribute it. —— By: Interview By Bethany N