The late producer also recounts working with Erykah Badu, being managed by Q-Tip, taking drum cues from Questlove, and changing his name.
Another rare interview with the late J Dilla has surfaced.
Uploaded this morning to Youtube, the 2001 chat between the legendary producer and NTS Radio’s Ross Allen outlines Dilla’s come-up in Detroit, how he navigated a mid-90s music industry anchored by club anthems and his ambitions as a future label runner. But tucked into the 30-minutes-plus exchange is a handful of signals that a Soulquarians album was once in the works.
The affiliated crew of hip-hop and r&b stars was a prevalent and era-defining presence in that late-90s and early-2000s. At the time of this interview, however, Dilla acknowledged himself, Questlove, D’Angelo, and James Poyser as the collective’s core members. “We got an album coming soon, maybe not too soon, though,” the producer notes with restraint when asked if there was anything on the way from the group. He adds, “there’s probably gonna be a lot of remakes and stuff like that.” Though members collaborated frequently throughout preceding and subsequent years, a full-fledged Soulquarians album never made it off the cutting room floor.
Elsewhere in the interview, Dilla discussed his family’s musical background, Amp Fiddler nurturing his fledgling beatmaking with a constant flow of new toys and sounds, how he was introduced to Q-Tip (who served a short stint as his manager,) why their joint album, Amplified, never became the commercial success many thought it would be, and the projects he was still looking forward to releasing, including a Kraftwerk remix album and a high-fidelity homage to Detroit’s unheralded history of pioneering electronic music.
Listen to the recently unearthed J Dilla interview from 2001 in full above.