DJ Ron Slomowicz
The first time that house-heads heard “Gypsy Woman,” it was love at first listen, as it was for just about everyone with the infamous “la da dee, la dee dah” hook. Crystal Waters is a true house legend and one of the rare artists who has achieved international pop success (“Gypsy Woman,” “100% Pure Love”) while maintaining a loyal club following. Productions with Alex Gaudino (“Destination Calabria”), The Scumfrog/Dutch (“My Time”), and Chris Cox (“Oh Mama Hey”) are just a few of her dancefloor anthems that topped club charts around the world. This is a woman who featured Dennis Rodman on a record, such is her ability to bring dancefloor power to any project she tackles. For its 20th anniversary, Crystal rerecorded “100% Pure Love” with Armand Pena and has a lot of new releases in the works with everyone from Stonebridge to the Murk Boys, as well as a role on a notorious TV show.
RS: What inspired the new version of “100% Pure Love?”
Crystal Waters: I knew the 20th anniversary was coming up and I had never resung the vocals for anyone before. When I was working with Armand a couple of years ago he said that it was his favorite song and that he had to redo it. I told him that if he sent me the right track I would sing it for him. When he sent me the track I started singing to him over the phone and said “let’s do it.”
RS: Do you ever get tired of performing that song live?
Crystal Waters: No, I don’t, because everybody is still so excited when they hear it and as long as people are still excited, I am still going to sing it.
RS: That works. You have another new single out called “Be Kind,” how did that come about?
Crystal Waters: I always wanted to work with StoneBridge because I have always loved his European sound. We finally got introduced to each other at Amsterdam Dance Event in 2010 and we hit it off like we were brothers and sisters or something. I went up there 3 or 4 times and we recorded about 14 songs. That one was always his favorite and always his baby, and he said “forget it, let’s just put it out” because he loved that song. We decided to do it this summer and there are some great remixes on it.
RS: You said 14 songs, was that supposed to be an album project?
Crystal Waters: Well, the idea was to work on an album and we were just having so much fun and songs were coming. We weren’t trying to go for a hit or a specific type, so there were a lot of different styles. Stone was just here in DC this weekend and we talked about it and decided that we have to go back and do all those songs and fix a couple. I am working on an album and I basically told him that he is my A&R and that he going to executive produce the whole project. We want to go back to those songs and find a couple and revisit those.
RS: I think one of the songs from that session was “Standing In Your Way,” the one that you did with Jonathan Mendelsohn, what was it like collaborating with another vocalist?
Crystal Waters: I was over in Sweden with Stone and he played that song at the club. I thought that there was only one thing missing and that it needed a hook for people to sing along to, because the crowd was really into it and just wanted to sing along. I started singing him a part for the hook and they played it for Jonathan and everybody and they all loved it, I just jumped in on the end of that one.
RS: I also saw a picture on Twitter with StoneBridge pointing at the Mayflower Hotel, what was that picture about?
Crystal Waters: He was here this weekend and he said that I had to take him to where the gypsy woman used to sing. She used to sing out in front of the Mayflower Hotel; my sister actually worked at the hotel. I used to walk by at least once a week and see her. That was the first time that I have ever taken anyone to see it, I never even thought about it and I don’t think that I have even taken a picture in front of it.
RS: Speaking about “Gypsy Woman,” you were recently involved with Vassy and the “Hustlin’” video, what is the story behind that one?
Crystal Waters: I met Vassy through Dave Aude and she told me that she wrote a song that was an ode to me and she wanted me to be a part of it. I told her that I had already sung the song and I thought that I did it pretty well the first time, but go ahead. I told her I would be in the video once they got the mixes done. I was out in LA doing something else and she kind of just grabbed me and we went into the studio and just winged it. She is a sweet girl and I think that she is going to be big, she is very determined and a great songwriter. I told her that I wanted to do something original with her and work with her again.
RS: Speaking about Dave Aude, is there some sort of project with you, Dave, and Andy Bell coming along?
Crystal Waters: They did ask me to write something for an album and I met up with Andy in Miami, but I never had time to do that. I really wanted to try and do something with him but I think that they finished the project before I could get involved.
RS: I saw another picture of you on Twitter where you had this amazing long honey brown hair with a belt chain coming from your waist and your eyes were closed. What was that from?
Crystal Waters: That was from a photo shoot that I did a couple of years ago and I have never used that photo because I wasn’t particularly fond of the blonde hair. I believe my photographer put that up; I have a whole shoot with that hair and everything.
RS: I love it. Talking about your songs coming back again, about a year ago you rerecorded “Say Hey” as “Say Yeah” with Reloud.
Crystal Waters: A friend of mine called me and said that the song was very doing well. A lot of people released my vocals without permission. I usually have to send cease and desist letters once a week. I decided that if it’s doing well and it’s underground, it would be fun to be a part of it so I went in and I did the vocals really quick. I thought that it was fun to meet the younger people coming up and I wanted to stay involved and stay relevant. We did that, and I actually wrote another song with them. They just got signed with Sony in Italy and they went on a producer contest reality TV show and they won with one of the songs that I wrote. Hopefully they will be releasing that song as well.
RS: You work with classic producers, but you also work with up-and-coming producers, how do you find the new talent that you work with?
Crystal Waters: Usually people come to me and I go through a vetting process and I ask people about them and call everyone that may know something about them and make sure that they are actually talented. If they send me a track and I like it then I do it. I go to the conferences and everything that I can to meet the up and coming people. That is why I like working with Armand, he is still passionate and excited and he has all these new fresh ideas and I like being around that.
RS: I also hear that you are working with the Murk Boys.
Crystal Waters: Yes, Nervous Records contacted me and said that they had a hot track. I will say that it is hot and a little bit to the left, but I guess that is what they do. I can’t wait for it to come out and see how everybody likes it.
RS: Speaking about hot, I also hear that you are on a project about climate change, what is that all about?
Crystal Waters: It is a project done by the Hip-Hop Caucus; they put together the album to bring awareness to climate change. It is featuring Ne-Yo and Common and it was produced by Malik Yusef, who is one of Kanye West’s producers. It is an album full of covers and I did a cover of “Children of the Ghetto” and Malik produced it. The album is sponsored by Apple and they plan on a ten city tour, we just did DC and I am hoping that New York is next.
RS: Is that what you did with The Bad Yard Club back in the ‘90s?
Crystal Waters: No, that was Philip Bailey’s “Children of the Ghetto.” I just came back from the studio recording a new track for David Morales which is really hot. I haven’t worked with him since The Bad Yard thing so I am getting ready to go in the house now to play it for him.
RS: You also had a #1 hit last year with Chris Cox and DJ Frankie, “Oh Mama Hey.” That started as a track, and then did you come in later to add vocals to it?
Crystal Waters: Yeah, Chris said that he had put it out for a couple of months and everybody said that it needed a vocal. I flew out to Vegas and we went into the studio and I kind of ad-libbed and came up with something, it was a really fun vocal and we had a good time with it.
RS: A little birdie told me that you were also going to be on a TV show?
Crystal Waters: I am going to be on R&B Divas LA for a couple of episodes. One of the girls wants to do dance music and they called me in as a consultant so I have been flying back and forth doing that. They are all singers trying to have comeback careers. You should check it out, I hear it is a really good show.
RS: You have such a dynamic and unique voice that you sound good with just about any kind of genre from EDM to house; what is your take on the whole UK NuHouse movement?
Crystal Waters: I am a little confused by it. I got a track from somebody and they called it house, but there was no bassline so I am a little bit confused about what Nuhouse is. I always tell this story, when we were doing it back in the ‘90s they told us our music was bullshit and that we needed to go find something real and that it was going to be a fad and that it was going to pass quickly. I am very happy that the sound is still around and strong 20 years later; I love being a part of it.
RS: Let’s go back to that and say if you could talk to your 18 year-old self, what advice would you give yourself?
Crystal Waters: A whole bunch of advice like being more confident and believing in yourself and not being afraid to fail. I look back on the years and if I had spoken up and had a little bit more self-confidence I would have gotten a lot more done.
RS: Your songs have been remixed and reworked with bootlegs and mashups. What is your favorite bootleg or mashup of one of your songs that you have heard?
Crystal Waters: I don’t care for bootlegs; it’s illegal, it is copywritten property, and I have a problem with that. I do understand, though, and it keeps it alive and valid, but I can’t tell you of any bootlegs that I know of.
RS: I put it out there to my friends for some questions to ask you so here are five questions that your fans want you to answer. What is it that makes you happy?
Crystal Waters: Peace of mind and feeling satisfied and fulfilled what I do, that wakes me up every morning excited about the day.
RS: Is Crystal Waters your real name or an alias?
Crystal Waters: That is my real name; my real name is Crystal Jo Waters. No one even thought about it until I had a hit record but they said that they just wanted to name me Crystal. I have the same initials as my father and brother.
RS: What is it that you really need?
Crystal Waters: I write a lot about that in my songs, I would say validation and I think that everyone needs to know that what they are doing is worth something.
RS: Is it true that you dated Freedom Williams from C+C Music Factory?
Crystal Waters: Yes, I dated him on and off for like 18 years, I am kicking myself because it was a waste of time.
RS: This is from me, what does your lyrics “oohie ooh, oohie ooh” form “Making Happy” mean?
Crystal Waters: A lot of times when I write, it is basically melody first and then I put the lyrics in so just like “la da de la de da” that came first- I couldn’t find any words to fit it so I just kept it. I think I did the same thing with “Happy.”
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Crystal Waters: Keep checking me out, I have a lot of new stuff coming. I am on Facebook (IAmCrystalWaters), Instagram (CrystalWaters), and Twitter (@CrystalWaters1) and come see me at my shows. I love you all and I enjoy what I do and I hope that I pass that on to my fans.