Before the term “EDM” even existed, Crystal Waters was paving the way for every vocal track we hear in dance music today. Since her first single in 1991, Waters has had four Hot 100 hits including “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” which peaked at No. 8 and “100% Pure Love” which stayed on the charts for a nearly a year in 1994. She has two certified gold records and eight Billboard No. 1 singles to her name.
Her newest song “Blow” is a collaboration with Miami-based producer Armand Pena and released through Subliminal Records, the label helmed by DJ Erick Morillo – an old friend of Waters’. Though the track sounds at home in today’s EDM world, its roots can be traced to the vocal house of Waters’ early career. Watch the premiere of the video exclusively here:
The origins of “Blow” are somewhat unusual. Pena began working on the base track as a remix for another tune but when Morillo heard it, he suggested it become a stand-alone song. Pena says he had Waters in mind for the vocal from the start, he just needed to convince her to do it.
“I had her contact info because we had worked together before,” Pena says, referring to when Waters performed at an event for him in Miami. “I reached out to her but she was super busy at the time so I kept my fingers crossed.”
“I’ll tell you what he did, “Waters interjects, laughing. “He bugged me. I was like, ‘Who is this kid?’”
Kidding aside, Waters found an exciting challenge in the prospect of working on the tune. “I was really looking to do an EDM thing, so it was something exciting for me,” she explains. “It’s a whole different songwriting style.”
Waters wrote and recorded the topline in her home studio, sent it to Pena, and producer Harry Romero worked with Pena on finishing off the production.
“It’s totally different from 20 years ago,” Waters says of the recording process. “It used to take a lot longer. I remember mailing cassettes. I’m just so thankful for the Internet–greatest thing ever.”
“For me, it was a high,” says Pena. “There are songwriters and singers that think they can sing, but can’t. Working with a professional like Crystal made everything so much easier.”
“Blow” is not Waters’ first foray into contemporary EDM. Earlier this year she found herself in familiar territory, back on the charts as the featured artist on Chris Cox and DJ Frankie’s track “Oh Mama Hey.” But with her latest collaboration, she steps more into the foreground, not just as the vocalist and songwriter, but also as the face of the tune, not that she’s angling for a comeback.
“The DJs are the thing now,” she says humbly. “It wasn’t about me coming back and trying to be this big artist again or anything like that. I just wanted to write and be part of the scene.”
While it has been over two decades since “Gypsy Woman,” Waters is heartened by the success of DJ music today.
“EDM kind of validates what we were doing in the ‘90s,” Waters explains. “They told us what we were doing was bullshit and would never last. For [dance music] to come back and come back so strong kind of makes me proud.”
Waters is working on some of her own material but says other collaborations with Pena are also in the future. While she says an album might happen eventually, she’s happy working on individual tracks with other DJs and producers, focusing on the music rather than the business.
“It’s nice that I don’t have to deal with the labels,” Waters says. “I can just sit and write the songs. I’m kind of in a good spot right now.”