Interview: By Being a Trendsetter and Staying True, Sisqo has Mastered the Music Business

Sisqo Summerstage Betsy Head Park 2014-8

When Sisqo released the “Thong Song” a decade ago after years of success as part of Dru Hill, he did something he had been doing from the start of his career; changing the game. After all, he was the first to bleach his hair in different colors and you can still see that trend living on in r&b today. It only makes sense that as he continues to have a career in music, he doesn’t feel a need to alter his style to change with the times. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, we have a better chance of seeing the times change with HIM. After putting off his next solo project in favor of releasing a new Dru Hill album in 2010, he’s now prepared to release “The Last Dragon”. YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with him backstage at a recent show in NYC and discussed what he’s been up to since Dru Hill’s last album, what to expect on his new solo album, finding success as a solo artist and with the group, if he felt “Thong Song” helped contribute to the downfall of the quality of r&b music, and much more.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Your last album with Dru Hill “InDRUpendence Day” came out back in 2010. Talk about what you’ve been up to since then.

Sisqo: Since then we’ve been touring the world basically supporting the album. I’m working on a new project called “Last Dragon”. I actually stopped working on my solo project to work on the Dru Hill project. We have not broken up, we’re still working, you can see us at a city near you. You can see Dru Hill at the Essence Festival. Myself, you’ll be hearing new music from me right around August, so be looking out for the new album “Last Dragon”. The single is coming really soon.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about the “Last Dragon” album because I know you’ve been working on it since about 2008 or so.

Sisqo: Yea, I stopped and started, stopped and started.

YouKnowIGotSoul: What kind of sound can we expect on there?

Sisqo: With my album, it’s been a lot of delays and pauses due to the fact that I have a standard that I must maintain with my solo projects. I have a multi platinum career thanks to you guys and I want to make sure I put my best foot forward. It’s not about when you come out in my personal opinion; it’s about how you come out. I want to make sure that I come out with a project that’s representative of the hard work and dedication to giving a quality product to my fans. Hopefully when it’s done and it comes out, you guys will like it. So far, those who have been getting little snippets from that I’ve done have really been gravitating to the music and giving me positive feedback.

YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve been a platinum artist with Dru Hill and also as a solo artist. How do you balance both and keep both successful?

Sisqo: It’s actually a blessing being a multi platinum artist in my solo career and career with Dru Hill. In the music industry, music is constantly changing; the face of music and radio is in a state of constant flux. Fortunately, when you’ve sold a lot of records, people like to hear those hits. I was blessed enough to be a part of those successful projects. Even when you don’t hear me on the radio, thanks to you guys, I’m still able to tour the world and sing the hits that people love.

YouKnowIGotSoul: You mentioned that Dru Hill never broke up, but a lot of groups that came before you and came after you have broken up. How have you managed to keep it together?

Sisqo: We’ve had a lot of different members for different reasons. But there is definitely a misconception out there, I never left the group personally and it’s all because the members of Dru Hill and even the newer members that came in and out have always been like family to me. My passion is basically geared towards the music. My passion is music, I love music, and I do the best that I can to stay true to music. For any new artists out there, I’ll just say what’s been the theme it seems like for 2012, is do you, stay positive and surround your universe with positive energy. Don’t allow anybody to tell you about you and what’s hot and what’s not. Look at me, when I came out with a different color hair, everybody was looking at me with the side eye, now everybody is dying their hair blonde. You never know, if you stick to your guns and stay true to yourself, you might end up starting a trend.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Something you mentioned on stage tonight, and I’m sure you were joking, but that the “Thong Song” may have contributed to the downfall of the quality of r&b music. Do you feel that way?

Sisqo: *Laughs* Not necessarily the quote unquote “quality” of r&b, but I think I was a pioneer in the whole singing/rap genre of music which is basically the standard of r&b music today. Everybody is kinda enjoying it along with pop music. That’s just kinda something that I started out doing, songs like “Got to Get It” and “Unleash the Dragon” and “Thong Song” and “How Deep”. It was basically like a sing/rap style that’s kinda popular right now. Music is living and breathing, it’s constantly moving and growing and changing, like I was saying earlier, good music can never die. Whether people are exposed to that music, it’s up to the individual. Most of the music that you hear on the radio is going through a corporate machine so it’s kinda pushed to your face whether you like it or not. Good music is alive and it never dies. It never gets old, it stays around forever. Like the songs that you guys have been supporting that we’ve done, even songs like the “Thong Song”. That particular song was a song that I did that I put my heart into. It’s actually a lot more complicated than face value, I made what I call “complex simplicity”. A lot of people felt that with this song, it was pretty gimmicky, but if you actually listen to it, that’s a live orchestra in the background. I actually hired some string players from Star Wars to play those live strings. I also wrote the string line in the background and I purposely sang the exact same verse three times in a row. I basically challenged myself musically to see if I could take one verse and make it sound sonically sound different three different times. It worked 10 million times over! *Laughs*

YouKnowIGotSoul: Do you feel that in this day and age with the way music has changed, since you came out in the mid to late 90s that you’d have to change the way you do things to be successful?

Sisqo: Well, at the end of the day, it’s called the music business, the word business is bigger than the word music. If you stay true to the music, so far it seems like the fans of real music will not let real music die. The business of real music changes. How people listen to music, how people vibe to music, how people interact with music, it changes with technology, it changes with music which is ever growing. Once again, I don’t follow trends, I’ve always been a trend setter. I don’t go chasing the biggest producer, I don’t go chasing people to do collaborations with. Every collaboration that you’ve seen me do, even if it started off as a label or artist asking me to be a part of their project, it always happened organically with myself and the artist. If it was a song that I didn’t like, then me and the artist would pow wow and get together and make the music matter. That’s why to this day, all of the music that I’ve been a part of, it’s still relevant. You play any of our classic music from back in the day until today, and people still rock to it. I just do the best I can to stay true to me and hopefully with the direction I’m going on my new album, making sure that the business aspect of it is straight. It will be facilitated to everybody just like it was before and everybody will get a chance to hear it.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?

Sisqo: Be looking out for new projects from myself and my group coming this year 2012. Year of the Dragon.

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