Dee Dee Wilde first gained recognition in 1989 for the soulful ballads "I Found You" and "No Way Out" -- both produced by her brother and fellow hitmaker, Eugene Wilde. Cool Million's 'Back for More' CD has afforded the dynamic duo the opportunity to collaborate once again, this time on a sleek midtempo jam simply titled "Loose"...
Dee Dee Wilde: How are you doing Justin? Long time!
Justin Kantor: It is really nice to talk with you. I was just thinking it’s hard to believe that it’s been 9 years.
DW: I know! I still have the bio that you made for me and I look at it all the time. I always say, “I wonder what happened to Justin” then I look in my email and I see your name up there.
JK: I got a pleasant surprise and thrill from seeing that you were involved in this project, and what happened was, David Nathan ,who owns the site SoulMusic.com, he forwarded me the information about the Cool Million – Back For More CD and he said, “Would you like to interview some of the artists that are taking part in it?” and when I saw your name I said, “I talked to Dee Dee when she had her last CD out, and it would be really cool to talk to her again.” It was so nice to hear, because I didn’t know if you were doing music right now or if you had gone into something else.
DW: No, I’m still around, trying to get back into things. I’ve been kind of like on the downslide for a while, but I’m getting back into it again. Not to say that I ever stopped, I just stopped recording for a while and just concentrated on raising my daughter and doing a lot of background work. I do a lot of jingles, commercials and things like that.
JK: What are some of the jingles you’ve done?
DW: Well, I do a lot of, like, Papa John’s Pizza commercials, some of the voices on that. I do a lot of different car dealerships. I do voice-over work for different car dealerships and things like that. You know, different commercial voice-over stuff.
JK: Well, that can be quite profitable, from what I’ve heard.
DW: Yeah, things are going great, and I still perform locally around town. I still have a pretty good name around the area that I live in. I work pretty steady.
JK: What are some of the places locally that fans can catch you at if they want to see you perform live?
DW: Well, I do the Addison, which is a beautiful 5-star restaurant resort; I work there a lot. I do a lot of private corporation events. There’s a club down here called the Blue Martini, and they have several locations that are popping up over different States, so I do that chain.
JK: Is this in the South Beach area, or somewhere in Miami?
DW: Yes, it’s in South Beach, Naples; they’re popping up all over the place. They have a lot of casinos popping up, and I do a lot of the casinos and some of the Hard Rock’s.
JK: Oh, some of the Hard Rock Café’s. That’s pretty cool. You said that you had experienced something of a downslide. Was there a particular change in the music industry, or an event that you had gone through that caused you to take a break from it for a while?
DW: Well, the thing about it is I’m not really happy with the music scene; I’m not feeling this new music. It’s got no heart to it.
JK: It’s not music.
DW: It really isn’t, and I feel that for someone of my caliber, I can’t compete with this. It’s more about the image and the look; the music takes a second seat back. I said, “When they decide that they want to hear real music from real artists, then I’ll resurface again. Until then, I’m just going to watch the young people do their thing.” I’m just not into it. I’m not feeling any of the music. Mary J Blige’s stuff is okay, but definitely not the Rihanna stuff and all that. I know she’s popular, but for me that’s just not what I want to be competing against. I will not do that.
JK: I understand. Some of the music is entertaining, but when you get down to it, it lacks a certain heart & soul, like you’re saying. Considering that, maybe when this opportunity came up to do the song ‘Loose’, not to mention with your brother Eugene Wilde, I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air for you.
DW: Oh, absolutely. I still perform with my brothers all the time. Even though we have not commercially released recordings, we still do record, and I still get a chance to work with them. We have our own supply of good R&B music in our family vault; I’ll put it like that. When the opportunity came for us to be involved in this project, because besides Eugene and I, my brother Al Broomfield, they both contributed songs, so I thought, “This will be kind of cool”. We helped each other in the studio on those songs. That was really cool to get involved with.
JK: How did the connection come about with the producers Rob Hardt and Frank Ryle for you guys that are doing this Cool Million project?
DW: I think initially, they got in touch with Eugene, through Eugene’s contacts in the UK, and then Eugene was the one who was talking to them. They were like, “What’s Dee Dee up to and the rest of your family?” He said, “They’re still recording. They’re still doing their thing.” They said, “We have this project. Do you think they might be interested in collaborating with us on some of the songs?” Eugene was like, “They would!” We have a soft spot for the UK. I love the UK, and any opportunity that might help me get back over there, I will do it.
JK: That was where you had your first breakthrough.
DW: Absolutely. It’s been a while since I’ve been back over there, so I’ll do anything for the European market.
JK: You had some records out there that are still really loved to this day when you did ‘I Found You’, ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Lap Of Luxury’. Actually, you mentioned that the family is still continuing to make recordings together, and what it brought to my mind was how much over the years, the collective works of all you guys has really had an impact on lovers of real Soul and R&B music. A few years ago on the Internet -- and this is after I first spoke with you, I started finding out about Al’s Gonna Miss You record. And you mentioned Audio with Vince, I had picked up his Romantic album, and you sang background on the title track. It’s an interesting family history' I think, because you guys have made so many recordings, but not necessarily all of them have been out there on a big scale. Is that intentional, or just that it hasn’t worked out yet?
DW: It hasn’t worked out yet. We just have not met that one person that can put us all under one roof and let us do what we do. It just hasn’t happened on the level that we would like it to happen. Sure, we have a lot of respect in the business, and we’ve done a lot of recordings, but to get out there in the mainstream, it just hasn’t happened like that. You know what? We’re still young, we all still look great and we’re gonna keep going for it. It’s in our blood; that’s all we know. We’re not going to stop; we’re going to keep plugging along. Me and Vince did some backgrounds for Lenny Kravitz a couple of weeks ago in the studio and that was awesome. He’s talking about us maybe going on tour with him all over Europe. Something like that would be a breath of fresh air, because Lenny has some good stuff.
JK: You’re singing on his new record?
DW: Yes, we’re going to be singing on his new album. We only recorded one track with him, but he wants us to do more tracks with him over in the Bahamas. He has a studio over there, and he wants us to come over there and record. It wasn’t just me and Vince. You’re familiar with Donna Allen, right?
JK: Oh, Donna Allen, of course.
DW: Donna is one of my best friends, so me and her, we still do a lot of background work together. As a matter of fact, we just did some work for a new group that’s coming out called Sea Creatures, and we did the background arrangements and work for that, which is a really cool sounding project; the lead singer sounds like Jim Morrison.
JK: From The Doors?
DW: Yeah! He’s got the coolest voice, and we did the album for him.
JK: Is it an Alternative Rock style, or how would you describe the music?
DW: I would say that his music is kind of like Light Rock; it’s different. I really can’t label it; it’s different. It’s nothing that I’ve heard on the radio, but it’s like a breath of fresh air. I think that once he gets it out there, people are definitely going to take notice.
JK: You yourself -- when you talk about different session work and styles, you’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented and legendary artists from a number of styles of music. I remember, I think you even did some session work with James Brown at some point?
DW: Yes, James Brown was actually the first artist I ever worked in the studio with. I was 16 years old. Imagine you’re just fresh on the scene, and you get an opportunity to sing with the Godfather of Soul. It’s unbelievable. That was the first time I ever walked into the studio, and I didn’t know what to expect. That was the Body Heat album.
JK: What were the circumstances surrounding that? How did you literally walk into that as your first gig?
DW: Actually, when that happened, believe it or not I was married at the time, 16 years old. What was I thinking? I was married, and my husband at the time was a drummer. He was performing with this jazz artist named Carmen Lundy; actually she’s a really good singer too. He was actually the drummer for her band, and the session came to her, and she didn’t know anybody, but she knew that I sang, so she said, “Why don’t you come do this session with me?” She asked me if I knew any other singers that I could call, and I knew this other girl who had never been in the studio either. To this day, that’s probably the only time she’s ever walked into a recording studio. Imagine, you get to sing with the Godfather of Soul, and you’re not even a professional singer and never did anything with singing ever again.
JK: It’s just sometimes being in the right place at the right time.
DW: Most definitely.
JK: What do you remember about that session? Was he in the studio when you did it, or how did that all work out?
DW: Actually, he was in the studio. To be honest, it was great recording, until it came time to get paid. They kind of went out the back door on us. My story has a happy ending, because six months later, he came back to town and my husband said, “Dee Dee, we gotta go get your money” and I’m, like, “I’m with it. Let’s go!” He was doing a gig at one of these big arenas or something, and me and my husband camped out and waited for the tour bus to come in, and when the bus came, the same gentleman that was in the studio that said he was going to pay us, he was the first person off the bus, and we said, “Do you remember us?” and he said, “Yeah, I do. You sang on James’ album, right?” I said, “Yeah, but guess what? You guys never paid me.” He was trying to give me the runaround, and then James comes off the bus and said, “Is everything okay? What’s the problem?” My husband said, “My wife sang on your album and she never got paid” so James said, “Pay the woman and give her tickets for the show.” So, he paid me, and I tried to get my girls’ money, because they had never gotten paid, but he’s like, “Tell them to get in touch with me and I’ll take care of them,” but I knew that they would never see theirs. I definitely got mine -- six months later!
JK: You were persistent and got right up there and followed through, and that’s what made the difference for you.
DW: I might be young, and of course it’s a thrill to work with the Godfather of Soul, but at the end of the day, it’s about the money. I’m sorry.
JK: That’s what it comes down to. You also worked with another legendary talent, Phyllis Hyman.
DW: Yes I did! Actually, me and Donna again, we sang on the ‘Don’t Wanna Change the World’ album.
JK: The Prime of My Life album. Wow! To me, that’s one of her quintessential albums.
DW: It’s the best! That’s what makes her death such a tragedy, because at the time, her album was #1 and she was doing awesome, and that’s why it was such a shock when she took her life, because everything was going great for her. It was awesome to be in the studio doing those songs. I think we did about five cuts.
JK: ‘Living In Confusion’, would that be one?
DW: Yes, that’s one of them.
JK: That was another single that did really well from that one. ‘When You Get Right Down To It’ was another one.
DW: That was another one, yes.
JK: So, you got all the singles; that’s really good. It’s sad, but it’s interesting that we’re talking about some legendary talents that have passed on, but another one you had the chance to work with was INXS, right?
DW: Yes, and I was hoping that you mentioned him, out of all the people that I worked with. That was a real honor, working with Michael Hutchence. It was a song for the Beverly Hills Cop 3 soundtrack, and I think about six months after we recorded it, I went to Europe and I saw him again. I was on a bus going into town, and when I was getting off the bus, he was walking by the bus stop, and I’m like, “Oh man, that’s Michael Hutchence! I gotta catch him!” By the time I got off the bus, he had just disappeared. I didn’t get a chance to reacquaint myself with him, but that was really cool, working with him in the studio, too. Another tragedy.
JK: With Phyllis and Michael, it was kind of the same thing with their deaths too.
DW: I keep waiting for someone to say, “This was the biggest publicity stunt.”
JK: If only. Well, onto a more feel-good subject, the song ‘Loose’, tell me about the song. Who wrote it, and what can you tell me about the feel of it and what you hope to get across with it?
DW: Well, like I said before, I’m hoping that ‘Loose’ re-introduces me and my family to the European market, and hopefully we get a mini-tour out of it. Me and Eugene co-wrote it, and the way it happened, Cool Million sends the tracks to different artists, they send the musical track, and then it’s up to the artist to put the lyrics on them.
JK: The melody too, or was the melody already on it too?
DW: No, the melody wasn’t on it. The only thing that was, everyone just got an instrumental track.
JK: So you guys kind of add your own style to it?
DW: Yeah, Eugene got the ball rolling, and I just came in and threw my two cents into it. His son actually also co-wrote the lyrics as well. My nephew is really, really talented and up-and-coming; sounds just like his father.
JK: What’s his name?
DW: His name is DuJuan. He’s very, very talented.
JK: Okay, so you’re doing ‘Loose’ and Eugene has the song ‘Back For More’ I think, the title track, right?
DW: Yeah, he’s got the title track. As a matter of fact, right now they’re trying to get him to come over and do a little tour. I just spoke with him yesterday about that, so they’re still trying to get the particulars together, so I think he’s actually going to be going back to the UK to do a little mini-tour on his own.
JK: It’s cool, actually the two songs -- well, your song with him, ‘Loose,’ and his song ‘Back For More’ -- they’ve actually put out on a 7-inch record released over in the UK.
DW: Yeah, I got the flipside, right?
JK: Yeah, the flipside is ‘Loose’, so I know that’s a thrill to collectors and longtime fans, and even for myself, being a vinyl junkie; it’s nice having that record to play. To me, what was cool about the song that you did with Eugene and a lot of the songs on this Cool Million album is that, while it’s kind of a throwback to the 80’s Funk, Boogie and feel-good songs, it also has a contemporary touch to it. It’s not following the trends, but it has kind of, in a way, a timeless feel to it.
DW: Which is what we all do. All the artists that are involved are 80’s artists, so you know you’re going to get some cool music. I can’t wait to get a copy of the LP.
JK: Do you guys still have the Wilde City family label?
DW: Oh yeah, absolutely.
JK: I know when you did your PG-13 CD, I remember that was one of the first things under that name. So, you mentioned that you recorded some other stuff recently, what kind of style are you doing now? What kind of stuff have you been recording?
DW: I’m going back to the R&B roots, because that’s one of the reasons why we actually did not try to commercially release PG-13, because when we finished the LP, we realized that this is not what the listening audience is used to from me, because I was trying to go more of a Pop style with that, and they’re good songs and everything, but I just think that for familiarity purposes, we just didn’t think it was suitable for what they’re used to hearing. The music that I’m doing now is more R&B. I just cut a song with my brother Vince that’s real classic Jazz-R&B, and it’s a really nice tune, so we’re hoping something happens. We’re recording and just trying to get back into some good, solid R&B, real songs.
JK: When you mention the UK, you had another record out there that made some noise for you, a cover of ‘Runaway’, the Loleatta Holloway song with Urban High.
JK: There’s another tune of yours that I enjoyed, ‘It Must Be Love’.
DW: Oh, right. Okay.
JK: It’s the feel-good, up-tempo R&B songs I like, and one that I always enjoyed listening to is ‘Whisper’ as well.
DW: Oh yeah, ‘Whisper’. I like ‘Whisper’ too.
JK: Going back to the first album, of course ‘I Found You’ to me is a classic, and even ‘Love'll Do Anything’.
DW: Those are my favorite songs, ‘Love'll Do Anything’, ‘Round And Round’, that first album is close to my heart, because some serious, serious blood, sweat and tears went into the making of that album and it really shows; the songs are great, the lyrics are great, the productions are great, and every song on there means something special to me. I listen to it all the time, ‘Lap of Luxury’, ‘Hold Me’ and all those songs.
JK: When you say that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it, do you mean in the actual recording of it, or was it hard to get the deal, or what do you mean exactly?
DW: I mean we spent a lot of hours writing it, and then doing the pre-production of it and the actual production of it, because when we recorded that album, like now it’s so easy to record songs, when we did that album in ’89, it wasn’t quite as easy as it is now. Everything was done in big, major recording studios, whereas now everybody’s got a home studio with Pro Tools and you can master it with CD programs.
JK: You’re not dealing with reels anymore.
DW: Oh God, please! I look at 24-tracks now and it’s so ancient compared to the formats they are using now.
JK: I know, because it’s not even tangible anymore, it’s just online in the air.
DW: Exactly! You’ve got to go through hell and back to find a recording studio that will even have a 24-track reel, if you ever want to transfer something.
JK: Do you think that the quality suffers at all from the newer methods? Is it better, worse or the same when you talk about not having those 24 tracks and everything?
DW: For me, I thought it was a lot better back then; I did. I thought it had more of a warmth to it.
JK: So, it’s missing something with the current digital format.
DW: For me it is.
JK: Is it just in how the acoustics come out, or how it sounds on your stereo? Do you not get as much of a feel for the vocalist or something?
DW: It’s just missing that warmth to me. It’s just a whole different sound, but what are you going to do? You gotta progress with technology.
JK: You roll with the punches, right?
DW: You gotta roll with the punches!
About the Writer
Justin Kantor is a freelance music journalist with published works in Wax Poetics and the All-Music Guide. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Business and Management program, he regularly writes liner notes for reissue labels.