10 Questions with ... Wyclef Jean
January 20, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) How are you, what's going on with you these days?
What's up, family! Good to be back, baby, and to the music space, you know. Yeah man, good to be back. Those who have really followed me you've seen that over the last four or five year, I was heavy into helping Haiti. I even ran to be President of my country. After that, I became part of helping elect a President to my country. After I came back to the States, I decided to get back into music but I wanted to do something different, so in the winter I went to Stockholm and got with Avicii and Ash and the whole camp. I embarked on a new sound of sonics that I was looking for; Avicii calls it CLEFICATION! Just started writing again, and producing and look forward to putting out a lot of new music.
2) "Divine Sorrow" is the new single that you've put out with Avicii. Can you tell about the song and the cause?
"Divine Sorrow" is one of the songs we recorded last winter. We are both real cool with Bono; Bono is like our rock star. Bono has the Red Foundation, and HIV is their main focus. The whole idea of the song was that it was right for the campaign, we felt that "Divine Sorrow" went real well with the campaign because the idea is that no matter what you're going through, you can overcome it. We call it: the song of life. Right now, there's probably a girl listening who thought she was going to get married, and it didn't work out, so it's "Divine Sorrow;" no matter what you're going to find that new guy. You can have someone who's locked up; you miss them, that's "Divine Sorrow." There could be someone with the worst disease, and you don't think they're going to come back, go see them in the hospital, that's "Divine Sorrow." A hundred (100%) percent of that download or however you purchase it, goes to eradicating HIV, the global fund! We are very, very, very excited abou that, me and Avicii.
3) You said you were working on an album with Avicii; did you think that when you first started with The Fugees that so many years later you would be working with a globally famous known DJ doing Dance music?
If you follow my career, the 1997 classic album, The Carnival, I was experimenting the same way Avicii experiments with EDM today -- if you recall the "Wanta La Mera" and "Staying Alive." So for me, what a lot of people don't know is that my first Dance song was in 1989, before the Fugees. I was signed to Craig Kallman and a House label.
4) On Big Beat?
On Big Beat Records!
5) What was the single?
I'm about to fuck your head up right now ... You're about to get completely fucked up right now ... You can look it up online, the album is called Africala and the single is called "Out Of The Jungle." It goes, [sings] "Out of the Jungle, Here we Go! Way O, Way O, Way..." it was one of the hardest songs in the underground. The thing about this song is that this is what's funny, if you've seen that movie 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' that's like what happened to me. At the time, House producers had these beats and they would have these vocalists come in. So I would come in, hear the beat, write the song and then leave, you feel me? It wasn't until years later that my man was like, Yo. there's this record that is in the underground and it's on Big Beat called, "Out Of The Jungle" and this dude sounds just like you, you got a twin! And when he plays it, I say, "That's ME!" That's how far back I go with the music.
6) I'm going to have to home to go through my record collection, I'm going to look for that Big Beat single.
You're going to trip out and say Oh Shit, 'Africala', that's Clef! We are classified: Avicii is classified for EDM, Wyclef is classified for Reggae, Hip-Hop and R & B. But when we get in the studio, we're classified for nothing! We're just classified as two producers. That's how we attack the records. When asked what does that mean ... What happens when acoustic guitar meets electro? That's what's happening in the studio.
7) In the 25 plus years that you've been doing music, is there a favorite song that you've done?
I like a lot of the new stuff that I'm starting to embark on, but one of the songs that takes me back is probably "Going To November" with the idea of the Philharmonic Orchestra. The fact that Bob Dylan showed up for my video is the coolest thing. I love that record and it means a lot to me; losing a lot of family when I was writing that song makes it real.
8) Any guest vocalists on your new album we can also look forward to?
Man, this album is going to be very, very crazy. I'm really excited because I'm signed to a new label, Heads Music. And with PRMD. I love what Ash is doing! Think he is incredible. Love what Madeline Nelson is doing. I wanted a fresh start.
Right now, I'm working with Emily Sanders ... very excited about what that's gong to sound like. Also, have a record with Push-T. So we have a lot of sounds. The best way I can describe it is think of the album, The Carnival of 1997 leaping into modern times, 2015-2016.
9) Are we looking at 2015?
No, we are looking at the summer of 2016. The first single, "Divine Sorrow," then we're going to drop the second single, and the third single will be with the album and ready to go! I'm just really excited to be back, doing music. Not too many people that can do what I did and come back. I'm very fortunate.
10) What was it like running for President [of Haiti]?
For me, it was like following John Lennon. I really adore Bob Marley, Bono. I felt like as musicians you can't just sing about it, I felt I had to try and do something about it. [Wyclef sings...]
For me, running for president was a reality check. I went from being loved at a concert and people screaming for you, to 'Fuck You! You shouldn't be doing politics!" But for me, when we had strong leaders like JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr, at the end of the day I didn't want to be like Harry Belafonte. I wanted to stand up. It was definitely worth it, coz we got a president. You know, my thing is that I was born in Haiti and the Fugees stands for Refugees. If you look at the time when we came out, whether it was Tibet with the Dali Lama, or Brazil, NYC, Africa, Rodney King in California, or protesting the grand jury decisions, we are there. The idea is we always have to stand up for the truth!
1) On the lighter side of things, with all the performing that you've done, is there a favorite city or country that you've performed at?
I would say that one of the coolest things is that, my daughter is nine years old and recently I got a chance to perform at the American Music Awards. I was performing with Magic, doing a mash-up of "Divine Sorrow" and the Magic song, "Rude." I love the band. It reminds me of The Police/Sting vibes, you know. I just think that band can keep up, and I think three CDs in and they're going to be really heavy. So the coolest thing for me is that my daughter doesn't know The Fugees, so the coolest thing was when she saw me with Shakira. So when she saw I was going up to sing with Magic, she said, "Daddy, you know that Magic is a Reggae group, so be sure you do your part good!" So that was me realizing we are definitely in new times. Exciting!