10 Questions with ... Keith Sweat
October 18, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Before I made it in the music business, I was working to earn a decent living, but my dream was to be an artist. I took the money I made from the commodities market at the New York Stock Exchange and used it to record demos. Elektra Records heard a demo and started me off with a single deal, and then it became an album deal. By November of 1987, "Make It Last Forever" debuted and the rest is history.
I still feel incredibly blessed. People work toward their dreams every day --ome make it and some don't -- but I knew I had to do whatever it took to make mine come true.
1) What was the name of the first nightclub where you were discovered in 1987?
One of the first nightclubs I performed in was the Mark Four on 145th Street and Convent Avenue in Harlem.
2) Did you know right away that "Make It Last Forever" was going to be the huge hit it became? Was that the defining moment that made you decide on a music business career?
I had no idea the album "Make It Last Forever" was going to be as successful as it was, but it felt good while I was recording it. I knew I wanted a career in the music business ... and recording the album made me want it even more.
3) Following your own success as a solo artist, tell us about moving into the producing side of the business and how you discovered the group Silk and went on to produce their first album, which resulted in a #1 hit back in 1993.
When you get into the music business, you always want to be known as someone who can do more than one thing. I knew I could sing, and I produced my first album along with Teddy Riley. Even though I had my own successful career and people knew I could produce and make hit records for myself, discovering Silk was something I really wanted to do to show people I could do the same for someone else.
4) Tell us about LSG with Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill and who are some of the other artists you have produced?
After successful solo careers, Gerald, Johnny and I formed LSG in 1997 and released two albums: Levert.Sweat.Gill. and LSG2. Silk, my girl group Kut Klose, Dru Hill, Ron Isely, The O'Jays and IMX, also known as Immature, are a number of groups I have had the pleasure of producing.
5) In addition to your night time syndicated radio show, "The Sweat Hotel," you also have a television show entitled "Keith Sweat's Platinum House" on the Centric Network. Elaborate on that.
The Sweat Hotel is a way for me to connect with my audience -- and it's still a form of music entertainment. Like I said, when you get into the music business, you want to show people you can diversify and do things other than sing or produce, so I tried my hand at doing a reality TV show, which featured Dru Hill. I showed people I wear more than one hat.
6) How did you feel initially about being asked to host a nightly syndicated radio show? What were some of the initial challenges it presented? Were you still recording and touring while you were doing "The Sweat Hotel?"
When the opportunity came, I was reluctant to take it because I had never tried my hand at it. I didn't know if people would take me seriously as a radio host. Initially, it was a little difficult and uncomfortable, but once I realized it was all a part of entertainment -- it was me reaching out and talking to my listeners and fans -- it became more comfortable for me. It became second nature. One of the great things about hosting The Sweat Hotel is that I can still record, tour and work on other projects.
7) How did you come up with that name - "The Keith Sweat Hotel?"
It was easy -- in a hotel, people do whatever they want to do behind closed doors. So coming up with The Keith Sweat Hotel, it just sounded like a catchy idea. When you check in, you don't want to check out, and anything can happen behind closed doors. So that's how it goes down inside The Sweat Hotel, baby.
8) Tell us about a couple of your latest projects, First, the album, which you changed the title to "'Til The Morning." And you have a single, "Make You Say Ooh," which should be top 10 by the time this interview hits. And then we want to hear a little about "The Dru Hill Reality Show."
"Til The Morning" -- which was initially called "Open Invitation," but Tyrese had that title -- is more Keith Sweat than some of my previous albums. "Make You Say Ooh" is the perfect Keith Sweat song, because it still talks about making love and the things I know about, which is getting a woman excited and making her feel good about herself, and those types of things.
"The Dru Hill Reality Show" came about because I wanted to show how most music groups have problems because of their different personalities. I knew Dru Hill really well because I produced two songs for them. I thought it was really important to show people what groups go through in the music industry and why they break up.
9) And how close are you to completing your relationship book, titled "Make It Last Forever?"
I'm very, very close to completing my first book, "Make It Last Forever: The Do's and Don'ts." It's about what you should and shouldn't do in your relationship to make it last. I've gone through both scenarios, so I know what goes into a successful relationship and what can make it end abruptly. The book is very close to being finished -- and hopefully, I'll have it out in the next three months.
10 ) Of all the skills and experience you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve or something else you would like to do?
I think I'm really tapping into all the things I really want to do. I've improved vocally since I began; I think I have a great live performing show; I've produced successful groups; and I'm in 49 markets on the radio. I think I'm doing very well. Of course you can always do better, but right now, I'm feeling good about myself, where I am in my life, and the projects I'm working on.
Besides Keith Sweat, which new artist(s) will radio still be playing in five years?
Of the new artists, I think radio will still be playing Trey Songz and definitely Chris Brown in the next five years. Those are two talented brothers.
What would people who think they know Keith Sweat be surprised to know about you?
People would be surprised to know that I'm a homebody -- I don't like to go very many places. I like to chill at home and not go out. I don't do a whole lot of partying, so that's why most people don't really see me out and about. I'm very, very low key. I think people would not know that I'm an introvert who likes to keep to himself.
Describe your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is baked chicken and salad. I don't eat beef or pork, and I try to eat really healthy. The one thing I cannot resist, though, is Twizzlers -- I'm addicted to them.
Who do you consider to be your mentors?
Gerald Levert was definitely one of my mentors, as well as Eddie Levert. They were two major influences in my life; they were the people I looked up to, and I feel that they enhanced my career. They helped drive me to be better, and helped me achieve new levels of success.
Best career moment(s)?
My best career moment was when I hit that stage and performed at Madison Square Garden. I always imagined performing there, but I never thought I would. Once I got there, it was a dream come true. Growing up watching the Knicks play basketball at Madison Square Garden, and seeing a bunch of other people come through the Garden, I never thought people would come to see me perform on that stage. It was one of my best moments ever.