Metro (UK) - - TALK - With Aloe Blacc IN­TER­VIEW BY SUE CRAW­FORD

How did you come up with the name Aloe Blacc?

Back in high school in the mid-’90s I was mak­ing hip-hop mu­sic and in hip hop we tend to choose a name that re­flects our style. I chose Aloe be­cause I thought my lyrics were smooth or heal­ing and Blacc be­cause dur­ing that time my favourite artists were en­gaged in an ed­u­ca­tional style of mu­sic around be­ing African Amer­i­can and pro-black.

What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Mat­ter protests?

It’s amaz­ing to see so many white al­lies – peo­ple of priv­i­lege – join in and take a stand for change in ways we haven’t seen be­fore. Un­for­tu­nately, it comes on the heels of an­other death of a black man by a racist po­lice of­fi­cer. Hope­fully, it will be the crit­i­cal mass that’ll change our so­ci­ety for the bet­ter.

He did it his way:.

Weren’t you wary about re­leas­ing a sin­gle with the same ti­tle as Frank Si­na­tra’s song My Way?

No. A ti­tle is a ti­tle, you can’t re­ally own it. The My Way that was made pop­u­lar by Frank Si­na­tra will re­main a clas­sic but it won’t be played as reg­u­larly as a new song by young mu­sic fans in this era.

What is your My Way about?

It’s a song about self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. In my songs I of­ten speak about tri­umph over ad­ver­sity and this is one of those songs where I’m set­ting out the dreams I have.

You record a lot of love songs too. Are you a bit of a softie?

With my pen, yes. I do ap­pre­ci­ate a love song. My first sin­gle for my next al­bum was called I Do and was a ded­i­ca­tion to my wife [Maya Jupiter]. We’ve been mar­ried for ten years and I thought it would be good to com­mem­o­rate that with a song. Luck­ily, she ap­pre­ci­ated it! But I feel like the ma­jor­ity of my songs are about af­fir­ma­tion, in­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion. I turned it into an acro­nym called AIM. Songs like I Need A Dol­lar, Wake Me Up or The Man fit into that.

Did you know from the start that I Need A Dol­lar would be such a huge hit?

I had no idea. When I started writ­ing it I wasn’t even near be­ing signed to my first in­die la­bel record deal. It was just some­thing I was in­spired to write due to my per­sonal cir­cum­stances and the mu­sic that I was lis­ten­ing to, which was field songs of chain-gang work­ers. I’d re­cently been laid off from my cor­po­rate job and it was a true and hon­est re­sponse to that re­al­ity in my life.

It’s amaz­ing to see so many white peo­ple of priv­i­lege join in and take a stand for change

How have you spent lock­down?

We live in Los An­ge­les and we have a pool so we’ve been swim­ming and we also have hik­ing ar­eas in our neigh­bour­hood. My wife and I di­vide the day so we each spend time with the kids and give the other the time to do their per­sonal work. I usu­ally han­dle most of the meals.

How did you meet your wife?

Mu­sic con­nected us. I re­leased my first solo al­bum back in 2006. She’s from Aus­tralia and she was host­ing a TV show. When I vis­ited Aus­tralia she in­ter­viewed me. When she came to the US a cou­ple of months later she in­ter­viewed me again. It was Valen­tine’s week and I asked her out on a date. It was nerver­ack­ing but I felt like I had noth­ing re­ally to lose. She was go­ing back to Aus­tralia so if she said no then it wasn’t like

I was go­ing to see her again!

The late DJ Avicii.

Has fa­ther­hood changed you?

It’s taught me more pa­tience. When I know how to do some­thing, then I just get it done and kids of­ten chal­lenge how quickly you can get some­thing done. It’s also made me more aware of how im­por­tant it is to spend time with fam­ily. My dad was in the mil­i­tary when I was grow­ing up so he was of­ten away.

What was it like work­ing with Avicii?

Our in­ter­ac­tions were lim­ited to work. He was tremen­dously ded­i­cated and pas­sion­ate about cre­at­ing mu­sic but he was con­stantly on the road so there was very lit­tle time to sit and just hang out. I think the work we ended up cre­at­ing [hit sin­gle Wake Me Up] was re­ally pow­er­ful and genre-defin­ing.

Were you shocked by his sui­cide?

Def­i­nitely. I’d say ev­ery­body around him was shocked. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions that we had prior to his pass­ing made me feel like he was in a re­ally solid place.

How do you un­wind?

I’m in­ter­ested in tech­nol­ogy so I’m al­ways com­ing up with ideas and busi­nesses. When I’m not mak­ing mu­sic, my brain is still try­ing to cre­ate some­thing out of noth­ing.

When are you at your hap­pi­est?

When I’m with my wife and kids and we’re all re­lax­ing. Sec­ond hap­pi­est is when I’m in the mid­dle of cre­at­ing a re­ally good song.

What’s on your bucket list?

A big am­bi­tion is to be on the Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame. It’s not like an an­nual pop­u­lar­ity con­test and you can’t buy it, you just have to do good work over your life­time. I’d also like to see if some of my hair-brained ideas as an en­tre­pre­neur will ac­tu­ally hold wa­ter.

Blacc’s new sin­gle My Way is out now

. . Pas­sion­ate:.

. . Frank Si­na­tra.

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