Inspired. That’s still the sentiment resonating with Andwele Gardner, a.k.a. Dwele, when he visits’s office. And he should be. After 12 years in the biz the neo-soul crooner is officially an industry veteran. The singer opens up to about his new album, Greater Than One (out August 28th), living in Detroit and actualizing his dream.

EBONY: Tell us about the new album.

Dwele: I rented out a spot in downtown Detroit and put all my equipment in it. I record the majority of my albums in Detroit because that’s home. This time around my music has more of any 80’s feel. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but once I sat down and listened to four songs I said, ‘this is 80’s’. So it happened naturally.

EBONY: It’s great that you still work in your hometown Detroit. Why is that important?

Dwele: There are a lot of misconceptions about the city. It is turning around, but it takes time. You can see now there are a lot of new businesses and there’s more tourism in the area— more movies are even being filmed there. I try to use Detroit in all of my videos.

EBONY: What’s different about this project?

Dwele: I show a more sensual side in some songs, think “50 Shades of Grey”. I was nervous because I’ve never really shown that side of me before in music, but the response was good. Every album I like to include a song that you can lower the shades and put on repeat.

EBONY: You’ve been in the business for more than a decade. What’s the biggest change?

Dwele: I feel like the industry is set up more for the independent artist now, where before being on a major was the thing to do. I am now on E1; I call it a major independent. I feel like I have more creative control over my work, and that means a lot to me.

EBONY: Work obviously keeps you busy, but what about your dating life?

Dwele: I love to date, of course— I have to draw inspiration from somewhere. I’ve been dating my album.

EBONY: What kind of ladies do you like?

Dwele: My ideal woman would be someone who’s natural. I like a woman who doesn’t have the 15-feet eyelashes and the super weave down to her ankles. I want a woman that can go in the shower and come back out, and I know who she is. 

EBONY: And where does personality fit in?

Dwele: I like a girl with a good sense of humor, spontaneity, and someone who is witty… and I’m a little corny with my jokes so she has to be willing to laugh at them. I also like a woman who makes me want to be a better person. In some relationships I don’t really feel challenged, everyone is comfortable but then some women make you look at yourself and think about what you could do better. I like that. I like to be challenged.

EBONY: You’re also known for your style. What’s’ your biggest tip?

Dwele: Every outfit should have one star piece; it might be shoes or a tie. I like labels, but it should subtle for example, if I wear Gucci shirt it won’t scream Gucci.

EBONY: Should we expect a fashion line or are you working on other business ventures?

Dwele: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I have a few ideas for apps. And I’m getting into acting. I’m going to Los Angeles to take classes in a few months.