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Over the past few years, Miami’s ‘305’ area code has been well represented in the music industry by both the city’s new school (Rick Ross, Plies) and old school artists (Trick Daddy, Trina). The only problem, however, is that the intense Florida spotlight has only been shining on hip-hop–that is, until now.
Using his crafty lyrical skill and his compelling vocals, R&B/Pop singer Qwote recently nabbed record deals with Miami based “indie major,” Slip-N-Slide Records, and prominent major player, Jive. Together, along with the assistance of Steve Obas’s Final Cut Records, the labels will release the Miamian’s debut album, “Qwote UnQwote,” later this summer.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” Qwote steps inside the booth to talk about why being signed to multiple record labels is an important benefit, why he recorded three versions of his debut single, and which iconic pop star he is most often compared to in the industry.
Listen to the Interview
Qwote Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is the newest addition to the Slip-N-Slide Records family tree. Ladies, he doesn’t wanna fight; he just wants to make love. Please welcome singer Qwote – how you doin’?
Qwote: Hey, Z. What’s goin’ on, man?
DJ Booth: Not much. How are you, my friend?
Qwote: I’m good, man. Life is great, just kickin’ it off right now.
DJ Booth: Let’s go back to school for a second. Just like in grade school, on the first day of class, the teacher would say, “Go ahead, introduce yourself to your classmates in three sentences or less.” So go ahead, introduce yourself to the world – who exactly is Qwote?
Qwote: Qwote is the actual new pop sensation right now, the actual R&B artist that’s going to make history. That’s who Qwote is. Qwote is big.
DJ Booth: I like that – clear-cut, straight to the point.
Qwote: That’s what I’m sayin’.
DJ Booth: Your label, Slip-N-Slide, has seen lots of recent success over the last few months, led by number one records from Rick Ross and Trina. How do you feel that your pop/R&B sound is going to fit in with your company, your labelmates?
Qwote: I feel like we’re gonna do a great job. I feel like we’re actually going to make history. It’s been a while since Slip-N-Slide has had an R&B artist, and at this point, really, this is a first for them, as far as a pop artist is concerned. So I have no doubt in my mind, I’m gonna take this to the next level, definitely. We’re excited, we’re all excited.
DJ Booth: You have a lot to be excited about. You openly refer to yourself as a pop artist, which is a stigma that a lot of R&B artists often stray away from. You seem like you have no problem with that, because you obviously want your music to be the popular choice. Talk about that.
Qwote: Well, to me, pop music is basically a popular hit song. I always say, my music reflects how I feel, and if it’s gonna be a pop song at that moment, so be it. If you wanna label it as an R&B song, that’s fine, too. But to me, like I said, a pop song is a song that’s a big song, a song that everyone likes. That’s how I categorize pop.
DJ Booth: That’s what I’ve been sayin’ for years. No one listens to me though, I dunno why. In addition to your relationship and your contract with Slip-N-Slide, you’re also signed to the Miami indie Final Cut Records, and you have your major deal with Sony/BMG-owned Jive.
Qwote: That’s correct.
DJ Booth: Do you think having three labels behind you, instead of just one, is an artistic advantage, or could be a disadvantage?
Qwote: I think it’s an advantage, because to have three labels behind you, that means you have three labels workin’ for you. You can imagine, while Jive is doing what they’re doing, then you got Slip-N-Slide, which is a big street team and big in marketing in the streets. Then you got Final Cut Music, which is also a big marketing team. I mean, I can’t lose. It’s a win-win situation.
DJ Booth: I’m gonna play devil’s advocate with you for a second – that’s also two additional people that have to say, “I like this record” or “I don’t like this record.” So, when you go about choosing what material will make your debut album, are you worried that too many people are going to have too much say on what makes the final cut?
Qwote: It’s like getting a focus team together, you know? You want as many opinions as possible, because you wanna make sure you’re putting out the best records. So if it takes a million people, or whatever, then so be it. I wanna make sure that when it’s time to release that album, that I have that album that everyone’s gonna like.
DJ Booth: It’s like me; when I go shopping, I usually bring a chick with to give me instruction and advice on what I’m selecting, ‘cause otherwise I might get he wrong thing, and then who’s the fool? I am.
Qwote: Exactly. And I love that fact. You know, my team’s a strong team, and we’re all on the same page, so I trust their opinions, and we’re all just trying to get to the same place.
DJ Booth: Definitely, which is the top. And the way you’re gonna get there is a hit single. And you have that in place: it’s called Don’t Wanna Fight, and it makes me think that you’ve had a much higher success rate than me, when I’m telling my ladies, “Baby, let’s not fight…” I’ve had very mixed results; what about you?
Qwote: Well, I think we’ve all had that situation. That’s pretty much the reason why I wrote the record to begin with. I wanted to write a record that everyone could use, that was universal, that the ladies would love, and the guys could use, and be like, “Baby, let’s not fight; let’s just make love. Let’s not fight anymore.” I think that [record] made the point. I love when people come up to me and they’re like, “I listened to the record, and I had my girlfriend or my boyfriend listen to it, and then after listening to the record everything’s cool. It helped our relationship out.” Man, that feels good!
DJ Booth: What would you say is your success rate? Are we lookin’ at seventy-five/twenty-five? Are we lookin’ at eighty/twenty?
Qwote: As far as to date, my success rate?
DJ Booth: As far as, with your lady, you say, “Hey, baby. Let’s not fight; let’s just make love.”
Qwote: Oh, one hundred percent!
DJ Booth: One hundred percent? [laughter] Okay!
Qwote: [laughter] One hundred percent, man!
DJ Booth: You recorded three versions of the song: one with Trina, another with Shaggy, and another with Pitbull. Was this the result of having fun in the studio, or was there a particular goal in mind when you decided to record so many different versions?
Qwote: Well, the first version, I was actually in the studio with Trina when we recorded [it]. She was more than happy to jump on the record. The second version, Shaggy and I go back, Shaggy’s a good friend, and, we asked [him] if he could do it, and Shaggy went ahead and said, “No problem,” and jumped on the [second] version. And of course, I wanted to please my Latin family. I asked my friend, Pit, if he could do it, and Pit had no problem. So I thought it was a great thing, to corner it like that.
DJ Booth: Do you have a favorite version, out of the three?
Qwote: You know, many people ask me that. Of course I’m biased, but I love all three of ‘em, I love all three versions. I get the same feeling from all three versions, and that’s a good thing for me.
DJ Booth: Is there a possibility of combining all three and having a mega-mix Don’t Wanna Fight, featuring Trina, Shaggy, and Pitbull?
Qwote: Well, yeah, that’s definitely in the works. We have a mix now, on a David Beretta mix, which features Shaggy and Trina, and hopefully soon we can go ahead and add Pit to that.
DJ Booth: That’d be great. Qwote, the first time I heard your material, I found there to be some R. Kelly influence in your vocals. Do you agree or disagree with my assessment?
Qwote: Everyone is gonna, for the first time, refer you to someone else that they’ve heard, so, you know, I can respect your opinion on that. And I respect the artist, too; I think he’s one of the most talented artists of all time, actually. Let’s just put it this way: I’m gonna take it as a compliment.
DJ Booth: Okay, well then let me ask you: who else, vocally, have you heard yourself compared to, that you’d say, “Okay, I could hear that, I could see that?”
Qwote: I’ve heard many people refer me vocally to Michael, Michael Jackson. Some records, when I hear it, I’ll be like, “Oh, okay, I can hear that.” And again, I’ll take that as a compliment. That’s a big artist.
DJ Booth: Well, if you sell a quarter of the albums Michael sold, that would be quite the successful career, my friend.
Qwote: Oh my God, that’s exactly the plan.
DJ Booth: Your debut album is going to be tentatively titled Qwote UnQwote, and my favorite quote, personally, is, “Engage brain before putting mouth in gear.” So now you need to tell me, from you, Qwote, what is your favorite quote?
Qwote: My favorite quote? “Don’t wanna fight, don’t wanna fuss, I just wanna make love.” That’s my favorite quote!
DJ Booth: Slowly that might become my favorite quote as well; I appreciate that.
Qwote: Quote me on that one. [laughter]
DJ Booth: Qwote, give everyone a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more, of course, about the current single, and your upcoming debut album.
Qwote: Definitely you guys can check me out on my MySpace; that’s myspace.com/qwote. And also I want everybody to go ahead and check out the video as well, the video is out. You can go on YouTube and check it out – just type, “Qwote,” look up the official video with Trina, and the official video with Shaggy.
DJ Booth: Definitely. I thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth. I wish you nothing but the best of luck on this huge endeavor, of course, the release of your new album later this summer.
Qwote: It was my pleasure, man, and I wanna thank everyone for the support.
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