“Jazz Monthly Feature Interview” Candy Dulfer
Interview by Baldwin "Smitty" Smith
Jazz Monthly: It gives me great pleasure to have this wonderful guest joining me here at JazzMonthly.com. She’s had such a real deal appeal throughout her career and case in point is her great new record. It is just stuffed full with sweet funky grooves. You are gonna love this great record. It is called Candy Store. Please welcome the amazing Ms. Candy Dulfer. Candy, how are you, my friend?
Candy Dulfer (CD): I’m great. Thank you so much. I’m doing good.
Jazz Monthly: Great, and you’ve had a great 2007 so far.
CD: Yeah, it’s been fantastic from the start. I first started with the Smooth Jazz tour with Brian Culbertson, and then I did a tour with my hero, Sheila E, the television program where I interviewed all my musical heroes. I did that throughout the year. I did a European tour with my band, we did an American tour, and now we’re gonna go back and do another Japanese tour and a U.S. tour, so I can’t complain. It was great.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and like you mentioned, you’ve collaborated with so many great artists and it just had to be a blast to work with so many musicians and do your thing too at the same time.
CD: Yeah, it is because that’s what keeps everything fresh. I wouldn’t wanna be just a backup player for other people all my life and I also wouldn’t wanna be just a band leader for the rest of my life. It’s the combination that makes it so interesting and so I learn so much from it every time and it never gets boring this way so, yeah, I’m very lucky.
Jazz Monthly: Tell me about this television series. What was that all about?
CD: Well, it’s a series I—how do you say it? Thought up together with my best friend because we felt, especially on Dutch television, but anywhere nowadays, that there’s so little music and programs about music on television except for MTV and that kind of stuff, and I wanted to show people how many great artists that are there still out there that maybe aren’t in the hit parades all the time or haven’t got big hits at the moment but that are still really worthwhile checking into, especially for young people and kids, and the people that I chose were also people that I know and really think of as my mentors and my heroes.
So I went on and interviewed Sheila E, Maceo Parker, Mavis Staples, Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, Van Morrison—that was great because he never gives interviews—and then last but not least, my own dad, Hans Dulfer, and, yeah, it had many sides. I wanted to show people how nice these people are because somebody like Mavis Staples, I mean, in the States, of course, so many people know her, but in Europe, only the people that are really into music know her and I think that’s such a loss for the rest of the world, so I tried to make a nice portrait of her. Same goes for the other people and, of course, Van Morrison is somebody everybody knows, but they don’t know him like I know him and I thought it would be nice if that side from him came across, so it was a beautiful opportunity and everybody was nice enough to give us two full days of filming and that’s really extraordinary, and it was so beautiful.
It was very meaningful to me, very inspirational, and almost everybody I interviewed are good friends of mine but still, because I had to be an interviewer and had to ask them stuff all the time, I heard things that I’d never heard before that I didn’t even dare to ask before, and now I heard them and I was like, wow. Sometimes really a revelation, sometimes like small things, but it was so interesting, so I came away from each episode of filming totally revved up, energetic, and that’s what I wanted to achieve with it. I want people to go and see it and think, wow, this guy or this lady, she’s so great, I have to buy this record, or I have to do like she does, like doing all these projects. They’re all people that are like a little older and are still very passionate about music, and that’s what I thought was really special. They can all go and retire, but they all play and still love music.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, sounds very inspirational, wow. Well, that had to be very cool.
CD: Yeah, it was wonderful.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and I got to see you at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam and what a great show. Wow! You really rocked that crowd! We were bumpin’ N thumpin’ to your show. That was incredible!
CD: Yeah, that was a lot of fun because the North Sea is always special to me, although I’ve been playing there since I was 12 years old almost every year. Because it’s my home, my own country, but at the same time, that’s the audience that I most love to play for. They’re people that are interested in jazz but also look outside of jazz. On the same stage that night was me, Sly Stone and Snoop Dogg, and before that, Mike Stern, so you can see what a broad range and all those people were there and I love that kind of audience, so I’m always very psyched up about playing there.
And then because I know the organization now because I’ve been playing there for so many years, they allow me to do—sometimes they have special projects or these special things, and this time for the whole tour I wanted to bring on Rosie Gaines because I think she’s, after Aretha [Franklin], she’s one of the best soul singers of all times, but she sort of disappeared a little bit and not many people really know her. They know her from her work with Prince, but she seemed to sort of fade away a little bit in the background for the last couple of years, and I was so excited to bring her back and show people how fantastic she is, and also just to hear her sing next to me was really a thrill. And I got the chance to invite Althea Rene over, who you know very well.
Jazz Monthly: Yes.
CD: Which was also a dream of mine. I met her this January on the cruise with Brian Culbertson, and although I’m a female musician, I’m still blown away when I meet another female musician that’s really good because, well, first of all, it’s so rare, but second of all, there’s something that I have in common with her, I feel the same way, but I’m still, when she’s playing, when I saw her on the stage, she’s such a beautiful lady and she plays with such power and her musical abilities are so good that if you see it, you’re just overwhelmed.
Sometimes you have that with male players as well, but it’s just a beautiful combination seeing a beautiful girl that plays like any guy in the sense of like she’s so good that she could outplay any guy, and I was really excited to meet her and then we got to jam together on the cruise, and I thought we just have to find a way to do it again and then the North Sea was so nice to have her over there and have her as a special guest, so I was really, really pleased and I hope she liked it, but I think she did, and people loved it. They all go “Who’s she? Who’s she?” Because Althea is well known in the States and in Europe I think she would be if she was there more, so I hope this was the first of many gigs that she’s gonna do there. I know she’s been in Europe before, but the North Sea is a good high profile gig and I got so many reactions on her playing and they all loved her and her personality, so I would love to do it again.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, that was fantastic, I tell ya, and you two jell so well. The audience was so enthusiastic and loud. That was such a powerful show from beginning to end, and to have Rosie Gaines and Althea Rene there was just incredible with you, and your band, wow, it was mind blowing.
CD: Oh, thank you. Yeah, I’m very fortunate to be able to work with just the best people that I know. It’s incredible. I used to, although in Holland there are so many great players and I still play with Dutch musicians, of course, but I would dream about people like this, to have a drummer that knows everything, can do everything you want and still restrains himself and plays just the groove and knows exactly what tasteful thing to do the next. That’s so wonderful.
I always dreamed about that, to be able to ask people like that, or have Rhonda [Smith], who used to play with Prince. We were both in the band when we did Musicology. But even every day I would look at her on stage, even being on the same stage, I would just go wow and my mouth would just be open all night looking at her. And I never thought people like that I could have them in a band or something, but they are all so good—and I think our mutual love of music keeps us together. They are so in love with music that they will do tours. I mean, one day they’re playing with Prince and it’s all very luxurious and then the next day they come with me, which is, of course, a total different level, but they love it because they know that we’re gonna make honest and good music and that we try to do everything in our power to make it fun, and that’s why they come along, but I’m still very proud of that. I’m from Holland, hey.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, in fact, I had some time to just kind of kick it and hang out with the band while you were doing some other things, interviews, and they spoke so highly of you.
CD: Oh, that’s nice. (Laughs.)
Jazz Monthly: Yes, they just love being on tour with you, Rhonda and Chance [Howard], oh my Gosh, that’s my boy.
CD: Yeah, the funny thing is, I mean, I think we’re all in it basically for the music, otherwise we wouldn’t do all these things. That’s our life and that’s what everybody wants to do, and I couldn’t work with people who would be any way other than that, but I also think these great people, we all jell together because there’s no drama, you know what I mean?
Jazz Monthly: Exactly.
CD: It’s the same thing what I loved about Althea. When I met her, I thought, gee, she’s so down to earth, she’s passionate when she’s on stage, and that’s the same with Rhonda. She’s like a totally different person on stage when you see her, but outside of that, it’s no drama, it’s just the music, no egos, and there could be a lot of stuff like that because everybody has had high profile gigs and everybody knows what he or she’s doing, but there’s none of that and I think everybody appreciates it very much.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, that’s beautiful.
CD: And that’s really important, and it’s so funny to find people all over the world that have come to the same conclusion and go like “Oh, please, no drama. Just playing, having fun, enjoying and going with the flow,” but still it’s very rare, so I talk to people in other bands. They go like “Oh my God, it’s been terrible, we’ve been on tour and this has happened and this has happened.” We had nice dinners and we wanted to just to go out at night and we had great gigs, and that’s our experience and I think we’re all happy about that.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and it carries over to the gigs. When you jell so well away from the gig, man, when you’re on stage, it just all comes together. That love and the passion just comes out and it’s just so evident.
CD: Yeah, and sometimes people don’t have a clue what really touring is about and they think, oh, it’s performing the best every night. Of course it is, but the traveling and I’m sort of half famous, so sometimes I get this really luxurious treatment and then the band does and sometimes we’re in these weird, really small ratty hotels at strange gigs in strange countries with minimal stuff there like lighting or equipment. I love that variation because it really makes you appreciate it when it’s all very well arranged and it also makes you think sometimes like life’s not all about limos and dressing rooms and stuff like that. But in the end, you can only do that with people that just go like “Oh, okay, whatever, as long as we can play the gig.”
Jazz Monthly: Yeah.
CD: And it’s amazing to have people that have done so much different stuff that can be like that, and Rhonda’s like that, Kirk’s [Johnson] like that, Chance is like that, and my two buddies, Ulco [Bed] and Thomas [Bank], are like that so, yeah, we found each other in that aspect, really.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and that’s like you mentioned, very rare. It is something to never take for granted. I noticed that you’re sporting a different saxophone these days.
CD: Yeah, but I’m changing around because I figured at North Sea I’d play my new Inderbinen saxophone, it’s a Swiss-made saxophone, and it’s one of the few newly made saxophones that I like. I’ve always been in love with the Selmer. But in the meantime, people have built new saxophones and sometimes I couldn’t deal with the sound. It would be louder and it would be more in tune, but it sort of lost a little bit of the soul.
And then somebody, or actually, Tommy Inderbinen, who makes the saxophone, came to see me at a gig and he tapped me on the shoulder while I was sound checking and he said “I have this new saxophone.” And I was really not nice, I was a bit jaded, and I would say like “Well, whatever. Just give it to me and I’ll show you why I play my old Selmer.” I was just very grumpy, I don’t know, that day. I apologized later because when I played the first two notes, I was like “Ah! Excuse me, could I borrow this saxophone for a minute?” And at first I thought I had to eat my words. At first I thought, well, this is great to have a backup saxophone because that’s the fear of every Selmer Mark VI player when once it gets stolen or when it breaks down, you don’t have anything to replace it because there are no two saxophones alike in the old Selmers.
And so at first I thought that, but then I started playing it and I loved it so much. I have been playing it for the last one and a half years, or two years, and I just love it. I just have to go back to my Selmer now because it broke down, I dropped it somewhere, I’m terrible, but they’re fixing it now, so I’ll probably go back, and the Selmer’s great too. It’s just that the Inderbinen, it’s one of the few newly made instruments that are still made by hand like the Selmers used to be. It’s hand-hammered so, I don’t know, eight people are pounding on that thing for like four weeks. That’s why it takes a long time to get them in the shops because everybody’s asking about them and they never get any material because, yeah, it’s just a handmade thing. It’s like beautiful Italian handmade shoes. It just feels more special than one that’s made in the factory and there’s a lot of thought went into this and a lot of heart. You can really tell when you play it.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and he’s a sax player himself, isn’t he?
CD: Yeah, his father is the owner of the Inderbinen Trumpet Factory and that’s a very famous factory for trumpets, but he just wanted to try and make a saxophone and he tried everything. I think he worked on it for years and years, and he finally came up with a model that he says is sort of a cross between the Conn and the Selmer, and then he made some adjustments to it which he would like as a player, and he’s dead right. It’s just the warmth of a Selmer and a Conn, but it has the power of almost like a tenor. I get all these guys that are jealous. They go like “Wow, but the bell is so big. You sound so loud.” And I’m like “Yeah!”
Jazz Monthly: (Both laugh.) Oh, wow, and it’s a beautiful sound, wow.
Jazz Monthly: And you’re gonna be doing a U.S. tour in October, right?
CD: Yes, yes. Please check on my Web site for all the updates. This is actually a tour that came together—we wanted to do a bigger tour next year, but there were so many people asking for us to come to these places that we couldn’t refuse. It feels so good to be asked, and we have our new album out, so this is like a short tour, but we’ll definitely come back also next summer and then we’ll do a longer tour, but this is really exciting and I’m going to a lot of places that I haven’t been before, so it’s gonna be nice.
Jazz Monthly: Yes. Okay, I can’t wait any longer. Let’s talk about this new record. It is called Candy Store and I will tell you, I will say this to every music fan out there, you have got to get this record. And the title is so appropriate. You get the candy store with this one for so many reasons because not one song sounds the same, they’re all different, there are some dance tunes on here, there’s a little Latin groove on here, there’s some chill down tunes on here, I mean, everything is here, and I can tell you did this one your way. Wow.
CD: (Laughs.) Well, I’m so happy that you like it because this is an album that came together by sheer love, I think, first of all, because, I mean, we were just writing songs just for fun because I was finished with my old record company and I didn’t think I was gonna be signed fairly soon, so I was just thinking, let’s just make songs so that we don’t end up with such a situation that once you have a new company and they want stuff, they always want it fast and then you have to sort of rush an album, and still that can be good, but I’m always a bit wary of that because I want to make songs with heart and not just feel I have to move so fast.
So that was the main idea, and then I came across Dave Love, who’s the President of Heads Up, and I’d met him before and he kept saying like “So you’re writing songs? So can I hear them?” And I said “Well, you probably won’t like this selection because it’s so diverse, it’s crazy, especially not for America, where things are pretty much formatted or have to be formatted for radio and stuff, and he said “Well, try me. Just send it to me.”
And after five minutes that he’d listened to it he called me and he said “I want this. I want the diversity.” And I thought that was very brave for a record executive because that’s not the trend at the moment. The trend for me has always been diversity because I don’t even know what my favorite music style is. People always ask me and I’m like “Oh, I don’t know. I can’t choose. I love jazz, I love funk, I love hip hop.” I couldn’t live with any of those things. I would hate to live just in a world where there’s just pop and funk music, and now jazz or fusion, and on the other hand, jazz and fusion is just dead.
There’s so much more, so for me it’s very natural, but I think for a record company it’s very brave, and then because the songs were also made with a lot of fun behind it, with good people, with Chance Howard, Ulco, who’s been with me for ages, and Thomas, who has also been with me for ages. We just had a great time and I think you can hear that in the songs, and I’m just happy that people dig it. I even was a little bit afraid that people have trouble with diversity because you hear that so much nowadays. You get almost brainwashed in thinking that people wouldn’t be able to deal with different stuff, but they are.
It’s just that some radio stations, and maybe not even the stations, but their sponsors can’t deal with it, but for us it’s so natural and, I mean, there are even styles lacking on the album that I would love to do. I love house music and I play a lot with DJ’s over here in Holland and it’s just the most exciting music and I can mix it with my jazz background and my pop, funk and fusion background, so there’s so much more and I’m just excited that the people aren’t going like “Oh, what is this?” Everybody loves the diversity or they don’t like the whole record and that’s fine, that’s just a matter of taste.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, well, I tell ya, if you have music taste at all…
Jazz Monthly: …you gotta love this record because…
CD: Thank you.
Jazz Monthly: Oh, yes, I tell ya, when I put this record on, the first song, “Candy,” Chance is telling everybody the party’s on, you know?
CD: Yeah, that was such a fun song. We needed that because I wanted some high energy stuff and he said “Well, I have this groove and then we can do this on that” and he just made it in like ten minutes and played it for us and we said “Yes, this is gonna be the opening of the album and this is it.” There’s some stuff you can decide in seconds, and Chance was also a great addition to the album outside even from his producing because he played all the bass parts. He’s somebody who’s known for his synth bass playing and I knew he played electric bass. I just didn’t realize how good he is. He’s amazing. He can play anything. So we started off with “Well, maybe Chance can try some bass on this one track” and then when he was finished, we said “Why did you keep that secret from us?” And then he just did all the songs and it was amazing, and then he started playing bass live with us. We’d known this guy for like four years and I never really heard him play bass. Only on a jam session real quick, but never for real, and he’s now my favorite bass player aside from Rhonda.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, he’s great and he just has such a voice, you know?
CD: Yeah, and he’s a lovely person to have around. He’s somebody who’s seen it all, done it all, and still he can be really excited about little gigs and audiences and good people, good food, good fun, and nights out. He’s really somebody who enjoys life and really appreciates things, and that’s lovely. He had to stay here in my house, he stayed in my guest house cottage. And there’s nothing to do here, just sheep and cows, no Burger King, nothing for American people here.
Jazz Monthly: (Laughs.)
CD: And he just loves it and he’s here and he eats whatever I make for him and he says it’s the best food I ever made, so he’s a wonderful person to have around, but I still think it’s really great that he came all the way here and bunked with us for months.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, he’s a great guy. I love hanging out with him. He’s fun.
CD: Yeah, he’s cool.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and I love so many of these songs. I was trying to find a favorite and it’s rare that I can’t just select one song because I love ‘em all.
CD: Oh, thank you.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and they all can create such a mood and an ambience and a vibe regardless of what you’re doing. Like “Soulsax,” man, I love that song and “Smokin’ Gun.” One of my standouts, though, I have to say, is “If I Ruled the World.”
CD: Oh. Oh, good.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and I mean, that song you can get so retrospective and just really get so involved in just thinking about so many things. I just love that song.
CD: Yeah, some songs give you sort of an image with it and for everybody it’s different, but they each get an image. I have that with that song and with “L.A. City Lights.” It’s just a very visual song in a way because you just immediately start thinking images or memories and stuff. That’s funny and other songs just like in all kinds of music, just grab you because you like the music or the groove, but sometimes something makes you think back to some moment or whatever. It’s funny. I have that with both those tunes, but “If I Ruled the World” is really an atmospheric kind of style song.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, and if you want to get up and dance, you gotta listen to “La Cabana,” “Summertime,” I mean, those are great dance tunes. All these songs are just fantastic. And please tell Thomas he did a fantastic job.
CD: Ahaha, I will say that. Yeah, he really did. He’s the producer and programmed everything, played all the keyboards and all the other instruments, and he’s really somebody who likes to wander past the studio and go like “Oh, this is maybe a nice idea and then I want to go out again and do other fun things.” And some people have to stay in after work and I’m so glad that I have Thomas to do that and has the energy and the patience for that. That’s really a tough job, all the programming, sitting there, thinking of the arrangement, getting all the musicians in, making them comfortable. Thomas also recorded everything, so that’s a double job and, yeah, he did a great job. I’m very proud of him.
Jazz Monthly: Absolutely. Well, Candy, let’s see, the record’s release date?
CD: Yes, it’s going to be out on September 18th in the States, but it’s out in Europe and Japan already.
Jazz Monthly: Cool. Well, I will say to anyone, if you want some sweet funky groove, you’ve gotta come to Candy’s store.
CD: Well, thank you for this advertisement. We love that.
Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed, and thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful project and my hat’s off to you, your entire band, your entire team, because you really put something great together, and I think you’re gonna love working with Dave Love. He’s a great guy and they have a well-oiled machine over there at Heads Up.
CD: Yeah, they do. They work really hard and the funny thing is I tell everybody this: I’ve never had a boss of a record company that was so involved with the whole process. It’s ridiculous. I can send him an e-mail like on Sunday night my time eight o’clock or whatever or in the morning here and it’s the middle of the night there, and without fail I get an e-mail back in like three minutes, and I think that’s incredible. I told the studio guys in the office and I said “Does Dave Love ever sleep?” And they said “No.” (Both laugh.) Well, for them it might be harder, but for me it’s just heaven because I used to work with record companies, and some of them were really nice and did great things for me, but it’s almost like you have two goals. The record company wants to do this and the musician wants to do that, and that’s how it is in life, but it just seems with Heads Up that we’re much more working together for the same goal and that everybody’s a little bit more in love with music than the regular record company.
Jazz Monthly: Yes. Well, I think you’ve scored a hit on all levels in everything you’ve done this year, and congratulations on everything that you’re doing, and I certainly look forward to seeing you when you come to the States.
CD: Well, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you and thanks for saying all these nice things about our record. (Laughs.)
Jazz Monthly: You are so welcome. All right, we’ve been talking with the incredible Ms. Candy Dulfer. Her new record is called Candy Store and, trust me, the title is totally appropriate. You will love this new record. Candy, thanks so much, all the very best to you in 2007 and beyond, my friend.
CD: Same to you, same to you. Thank you very much.
For More Information Visit www.candydulfer.nl/candy/ and www.headsup.com
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