Catching Up With D Maurice
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with singer and songwriter D Maurice. The Chicago native, who’s most often referred to as DMo, is an artist that you should definitely have on your radar. There’s a good chance you’ve already heard his voice because not only does he sing backup for Eric Roberson, but he has worked with several other artists including Little Brother, Anthony David, Angela Johnson, Dave Hollister, Algebra and Commissioned.
D Maurice describes himself as the consummate background artist. He truly enjoys making layers and layers of music behind the lead line. But, it’s no surprise that an artist of his caliber wouldn’t be in the background forever, as he recently recorded the song DMo’s Joint! (In Honor of Mary…) for SoulBounce’s Men Love Mary tribute to Mary J. Blige.
D Maurice and I had a great conversation about his musical experiences, his upcoming solo project and future plans. Here’s the conversation.
Mimi Soul: Your biography says that you hope you’re being true to your purpose. How would you say your music fits into your purpose?
D Maurice: Very good question. I think where my music fits into my purpose is that it is an honest interpretation of what I’m going through or what I’ve been through. I think most artists should be able to truly reveal themselves. For me, being true to my purpose is opening up and allowing people to see the faults and things that I’ve done. Hopefully by doing that and being true to the purpose, I might be able to help somebody in their journey, struggle or whatever they’re going through.
I think one thing that a lot of us don’t realize is that we’re truly all connected. And, with that connection, we share a lot of similar experiences. But, a lot of us think that we’re just going through things all by ourselves. I think the best thing you can give anyone is to open up and share yourself so that they can say “Hey, he’s going through something that I’m going through as well.” I mean, there are songs that I’m writing for my upcoming project that I think people would be very shocked to know. So, I hope it will allow people to just see that I’m truly walking what I’m singing and talking about.
Mimi Soul: How do you want your music to influence others?
D Maurice: I’m hoping that people can connect to what I’m singing and writing about. Whether they’ve personally gone through that experience or whether they’ll go through that experience in the future, I hope they can relate on some level.
Mimi Soul: You’ve also said that music is about honest interpretation. As we know, sometimes honesty brings criticism. How do you deal with the tough critics of your music?
D Maurice: Well, Erykah Badu said it very completely. We are sensitive about our mess. I’m going to use the other adjective (laughing). It’s true. We’re quite sensitive; especially when bearing ourselves and our soul. It’s a hard thing to take criticism. But for every person who doesn’t feel your particular vision, there’s gonna be someone else who may love your honesty. I understand that criticism comes because we have to set standards for what we like and dislike. So, I try to accept it as graciously as I possibly can.
Mimi Soul: Have you ever felt pressure to compromise the creative integrity of your music to make it more relatable?
D Maurice: No, because I’ve always walked a different line. Sui generis is a word that I like because it means original. And I think that’s exactly who I am. I can’t really conform to what everyone else is doing because that was never me in the beginning. I always move to the beat of my own drum.
Mimi Soul: What’s the best advice you’ve received in your musical career thus far?
D Maurice: The best advice for me has been to not rush the process. That advice has been the best for me personally because as an artist, you feel like you’re under pressure to get the product out to the masses. But, sometimes it doesn’t go as quickly as you would like it to go. So, that advice helped me to pretty much create at my own pace. I won’t rush it. I’ll allow it to happen in the time it’s supposed to.
Mimi Soul: You mentioned that you have gospel roots. Have you ever considered doing any gospel projects?
D Maurice: Well, interestingly enough, my very first project was a gospel project. I sang with a group called Gideon back in the early 90’s and we put out an album called II or More on Tyscot Records. It was a really good experience and it really taught me the business. We worked really hard on our live performances and I’ve seen how that transfers to what I do today.
Mimi Soul: I really enjoyed the Men Love Mary project. How did DMo’s Joint! (In Honor of Mary…) come together?
D Maurice: Well, as you may know, Men Love Mary is a tribute to Mary J. Blige’s My Life album. So, she had a song on there called Mary’s Joint and actually, it was one of my favorite songs on the album. I definitely think I could’ve put a good interpretation on all the songs for the project that were still available when I chose the song. But I chose Mary’s Joint because I was trying to be strategic. To be honest, I loved the fact that I could change it and make it my own joint. So, it was a little strategic. I loved the song and I thought I could apply some of the things that I do as a vocalist that I don’t usually get to do when I’m performing live or backing up Eric.
Mimi Soul: Speaking of collaborations, I have to ask how many comments you’ve received about your part in the video for the Eric Roberson & Lalah Hathaway song Dealing. How was that experience?
D Maurice: (laughing) It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. The video was done here in my city, Chicago. It all worked out really well and Chris and Blaq from Impakt Studio were amazing. They’re some of the best directors and videographers in the industry. I’ll say that a lot of the comments I get are very interesting. I think I’m just really famous right now for my facial expression in the video. Someone captured that expression and sent it to me (laughing).
Mimi Soul: What else can we expect from you in the next year?
D Maurice: I will be releasing my solo project this year. I’m very excited about it and I’m hoping that people will receive it well. I’m going to be doing a few more solo shows as well. I don’t do many of those but I think this is really my year to start branching out and trying some things. The last three or four years working with Eric have been an invaluable experience. He’s my brother and friend. He’s also a great mentor, teacher and just an awesome lyricist. It’s almost overwhelming to watch him because I’m working with such a phenomenal artist.
We have the Men Love Mary show coming up in New York on January 20th at SOB’s for Sol Village and that’s gonna be a great show. I’m gonna do a couple songs there and I have a couple of other things working in the pipeline. I believe this year will be a time for me to step out and test the waters a little.
Mimi Soul: That’s great. So, which three words would you choose to describe the sound that we should expect on your upcoming album?
D Maurice: I would say that this album will be love, angst and setbacks.
Mimi Soul: That’s quite a combination.
D Maurice: Absolutely. I think you’re gonna see all facets of love, you’re gonna see some angst and you’ll see some things that I’ve done that set me back a little. I’m definitely exposing myself and wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Mimi Soul: Cool, so how can we keep up with you in the meantime?
Mimi Soul: Ok, so I can’t end the interview without asking a fun question. If you had to part with all of your music except three albums, which three would you have to keep?
D Maurice: Wow…I’m a huge Stevie Wonder fan. So, it’s a toss up between Songs in the Key of Life and Musiquarium. But, I’m gonna lean toward Songs in the Key of Life. Those songs just speak to me. I also like Glenn Lewis. World Outside My Window was an amazing album for me. And, Lalah Hathaway’s Self Portrait. She is killing the game with that album.
Mimi Soul: I see you were struggling with choosing just three, so you may pick an honorable mention album.
D Maurice: (laughing) Ok, well my honorable mention would be Carmen Rogers’ first album. I used to wear that album out.
Thanks D Maurice for a great interview! I’ll definitely let you all know when he releases his new project. As we wait, here’s his song DMo’s Joint! (In Honor of Mary…) from the Men Love Mary project.