Dwight & Nicole get to heart of their sound with new producer – Boston Herald
Some artists want a producer to reinvent them — think David Bowie and Nile Rodgers on “Let’s Dance” or Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ work with U2. Other artists just want to find someone who gets them, who has a deep understanding of their aesthetic, their soul.
Dwight & Nicole fall into the later category.
The Boston-bred duo of Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson has spent a decade blasting out a distinct mixture of soul, blues and rock. They’ve never been unhappy with their releases, and yet there was something missing.
“No one has ever got our live sound, that energy and spirit we have playing live, down on record,” Ritcher said ahead of the group’s two-night stand at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge this week.
Musical contacts in New York kept pointing them toward producer Joel Hamilton. Aiming for a little magic, Dwight & Nicole headed from their adopted home of Vermont to Brooklyn’s renowned Studio G.
“It was five days of blissful music and fun with this genius producer,” Nelson said.
“In past recordings, sometimes you missed those pops in our voices, our breath, whatever it is that makes us, us,” Ritcher said. “Joel knew what we wanted, and he was very efficient. We didn’t need to spend time wondering what amps or effects to use. He knew what was perfect.”
Hamilton has worked with the Black Keys, so he knows to capture raw rock. He’s also a student of hip-hop and soul and gave the sessions a kick of urban ’90s music. You’ll hear that production savvy and magic in Dwight & Nicole’s next single, “Wait,” which they plan to release digitally July 4. Later in the summer, “Wait” and a B-side will come out on a vinyl 45.
“In the fall, there will be an album or EP,” Nelson said. “We’re not sure yet. When we went into the studio, we were sitting on, like, 20 songs, so we have plenty of material. But we wanted to get something special out there in time for summer.”
Coming into summer, they have more than new music to share. The duo is now a trio. After the group’s Band of the Year win at the New England Music Awards in 2016, they rounded out their sound with drummer Ezra Oklan. It’s easy to hear what Oklan adds: a thumping backbeat and enough support that Ritcher and Nelson don’t have to fill every sonic space on their own.
“Lately we’ve found so many perfect fits, recording with Joel, and now playing with Ezra is another great fit,” Nelson said.
If you want to hear both the old and the new from Dwight & Nicole, make sure to catch the Atwood’s shows. They plan to open each show as a trio and tease new material. The second set will feature catalog tunes and loads of guests from their Boston days.
Dwight & Nicole, at Atwood’s Tavern, 877 Cambridge St., Cambridge, Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets: $12/$20; atwoodstavern.com.