ONE-ON-ONE With Canada’s R&B Singer and Songwriter DRU
He first arrived on the Canadian scene in 2004 as part of a music group called Essence. Four years later he released his solo project. DRU is still on a mission to have his voice heard worldwide as he gets ready to release his new project this year. Let's bring love and emotions back into r&b music.
ONETEN Magazine: Please let our readers know who you are? Hello, my name is Dru and I'm an award-winning Rnb artist from Toronto, Canada.
ONETEN Magazine: What drew you to the music industry? When I was 9 years old my older brother told me I had a good voice, I was hooked ever since.
ONETEN Magazine: Now you got your first taste of success as the lead singer of an R&B group called In Essence. How did you guys come together? I was singing in a talent show in the 10th grade when I came off the stage a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be in his group, I didn't hesitate for a second and I said “yes” right away. From then myself and Oba Hyacinth aka TOuch went to look for the other members. We auditioned about 10 people before choosing the final group of 5. We always knew it would be 5 of us because we based it off the new edition.
ONETEN Magazine: You guys released your debut album “The Master Plan” which earned a JUNO Award, MuchMusic Award, and a SOCAN #1 Award (for the club hit, “You Will Never Find”) in 2004. How did that feel coming out of the gate? It felt amazing, we were so happy it felt like we had finally proven ourselves, and we were taken seriously.
ONETEN Magazine: You released your first solo album in 2008 called “The One”. What made you want to become a solo artist? And what did you learn from being in a group that helped you as a solo artist? I had always planned to do a solo project, but when BMG dropped their whole urban roster I had to make a choice quickly. I had just had a baby girl and I was worried about providing. So I took the chance and recorded a solo album independently. I grew up a very shy kid, so being in the group helped me break out of my shyness and really, take this solo career by the horns. It felt great to take complete control of my career and my life.
ONETEN Magazine: Who are you inspired by? I'm inspired by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Jay Z, Biggie, Usher, Frank Ocean, Boyz2men, Jodeci to name a few.
ONETEN Magazine: Please explain your creative process: I like to really, feel the moment. Me and my producer / Biz partner Steve Dorego aka Hollywoodpro usually choose a concept to write about based on something in our lives, then we start messing with sound ideas for the vibe of the song. As soon as we get some chords going and some drums, I start freestyling out loud, I go in the both and continue freestyling on the mic not overthinking lyrics at all, just melody. We listen back to the melody then start to place lyrics in for the chorus. Usually, after the chorus is recorded the rest of the song just writes itself. If ever we hit a roadblock we stop and move on, we never spend too long trying to force an idea.
ONETEN Magazine: What’s an average day like for you? I wake up usually around 7 am, I meditate for an hour, I work out for about 45 mins. I check emails and voicemails, I contact Hollywoodpro and management to discuss what's on the agenda for the day. Depending on what time of the year it is my days can vary, I could be recording, having meetings with the Effortless Ent team to plan the next release, planning marketing and roll-out of the new album THE REBIRTH 2020 or we could be editing the new video for YNF which will be released 1st week of May 2020. We are also in the middle of planning my European tour. I'm also a single Dad with a 15-year-old daughter so you better believe I gotta have a cooked meal on the table for dinner, so I also like to cook. My day ends with another meditation before going to sleep. My days vary so much but I like to get the most out of every day.
ONETEN Magazine: What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why? I love to create, making something out of thin air. You walk in the studio with an idea and leave with a song, it's like magic. I’m not a big fan of social media, and as an artist that has to focus on building a brand, it's very important to be active. It's a constant struggle pushing myself to talk to a camera on my phone but I'm working on it.
ONETEN Magazine: Who would you most like to collaborate with? I would love to work with Stevie Wonder, he is an ICON / LEGEND.
ONETEN Magazine: What are some of the challenges you see you have to overcome to get to the next level? I don’t see things as challenges anymore, if I stay consistent and stick to my guns I will get to where I need to be. As artists, we now have almost everything we need to succeed right at our fingertips. It's completely up to us, how bad do you want it?
ONETEN Magazine: What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career? Good question, I think I would probably be in the Cannabis Industry.
ONETEN Magazine: You just released your new highly anticipated single “YNF” what does that stand for? Also, tell us more about the single. IN Essences biggest hit was our song “ You’ll Never Find” released in 2000 in the US, its the 20th anniversary of that song, so to page hommage to our cult classic I remade it and rewrote the verses to be relevant for today and made it my 1st release to start the rebirth and named it YNF. You will never find another love like mine, it's pretty self-explanatory what the meaning is lol.
ONETEN Magazine: When are you looking to release a full body of work? My new album THE REBIRTH 2020 aka TRBMMXX will be released June 2020 off EFFORTLESS ENT / Foundation Media.
ONETEN Magazine: You have been in the industry since 2004 and have seen a lot of changes. Do you feel the internet has impacted the music for the good or the worse? It's a bit of both. The same reason its great is the same reason it could be bad, meaning with the internet we have complete control over how we can get our music to the masses and we can reach the world from our laptop, but we have to put in the work. If you don’t put in the work you could completely disappear and seem to not exist as an artist. The record label used to do all the marketing etc now it's in our hands. Some artists just wanna be artists and not have to worry about everything else.
ONETEN Magazine: You recently wrapped up a European promo tour of 15 dates, hitting 10 cities in 7 countries and was a contestant on “The Voice Russia. How was that experience in Russia? Europe was amazing, fans out there don’t care about your Social media numbers they just love discovering new music and new artists. The Voice Russia was a crazy experience performing for 40 million people every week out of this world. The stage was huge and the band had some of Russia's most talented musicians. I made it to the semi-finals and gained some new fans.
ONETEN Magazine: With the impact of the world’s healthy pandemic with CONVID-19, how are you keeping yourself busy and sane? Well, I'm a little disappointed I can’t tour but the Effortless ENT team and myself are still releasing music and music videos and I'm planning an online show very soon, work has slowed down but has not stopped. We will get through this together and will be stronger on the other side of all this COVID stuff.
ONETEN Magazine: What is the best advice you’ve been given? Rupert Gayle, one of my writing partners from my first solo album “THE ONE” used to say when we were writing a song, “ the song is already in the room we just need to pull it down”. That always stuck with me because I see music as a miracle, it's not work, it's spiritual and if you see it that way the universe will guide us as we write, we are songwriters for a deeper meaning than just entertainment, a song could touch someone in a way that we could never know or understand, so it's our duty as songwriters to stay open and free as we create.
ONETEN Magazine: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? I feel like the urban music industry is losing emotion, I want to change that. I want people to feel something when they hear music. It's getting very empty, with all the songs about different drugs and complete disrespect for women, love is needed in the world today more than ever, RnB music is all about love and I'm gonna hold on to that.
ONETEN Magazine: What’s next for you in the next year once we can get back on track with life again? Like I mentioned my album THE REBIRTH 2020 aka TRBMMXX will be out June 2020, a lot more music and videos will be released and I'm looking forward to seeing the fans when we hit the road again. THE REBIRTH 2020 EUROPE TOUR
ONETEN Magazine: Thank you for taking the time out and doing this interview and nothing but great success with your upcoming project!
Photos provided by Artist/DRU
More About DRU
Determined. Revolutionary. Unstoppable. These are fitting words to describe Dru (Andrew Grange), whose musical influences include Usher, Frank Ocean, Marvin Gaye, D’Angelo, Jodeci, and Stevie Wonder.
Dru first tasted success as the lead singer of the R&B group In Essence, whose debut album The Master Plan earned a JUNO Award, MuchMusic Award, and a SOCAN #1 Award (for the club hit, “You Will Never Find”) in 2004. Working with a team of hit-making songwriters and producers motivated Dru to take his talent to a new level and increased his desire to reach a broader audience, both as a singer and as a songwriter. The One, Dru’s first solo album, was released in 2008 to critical acclaim.
The first three singles, “The One”, “Stay with Me (Always)”, and “Seasons” garnered strong chart positions at CHR/Top 40 and Hot AC radio across Canada, peaking at #10. The One was also released in Japan on DRU JVC. Dru demonstrated his versatility as a vocalist when he was featured on Doman & Gooding’s high energy Dance hit single, “Runnin” in 2009, which earned him another JUNO nomination for Dance Recording of the Year.
Rupert Gayle (Maxi Priest), producer Alex Greggs (*NSYNC, Britney Spears, Shakira), and platinum songwriter Evan Bogart (Beyoncé, Rihanna) co-wrote a number of tracks for Dru’s second album On The Brink in 2014, which included his smash hit singles “She Can Ride” and “Gettin It In” – which both sold over 50,000 digital downloads each. The third single from On the Brink was “Love Collision”, which earned Dru another JUNO nomination in 2014 for Reggae Recording of the Year. In 2015 Dru put out the single “Deja Vu”, produced by heavy hitters Baseline and Kuya Productions. “Deja Vu” earned Dru another JUNO nomination for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. www.drugrange.com