Aloe Blacc

Play it forward

Words: Florian Obkircher
Photo: Brian Dowling/Retna Ltd.

Aloe Blacc is in the Business of infectious good vibes. can we all just Be happy for a moment?   

It’s been a good year for Aloe Blacc. His hit Wake Me Up sold three million copies and topped the charts in 22 countries. After this excursion to the world of dance pop, a new album, Lift Your Spirit, sees the Californian musician returning what’s closer to his heart: soul music as practised by the likes of Al Green and Marvin Gaye.

The 34-year-old sees himself as a mediator: just like he discovered his soul heroes by listening to hip- hop when he was young, he hopes that kids today will discover the classics through his music. Here Blacc reveals five finds of his own. 

Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life

“When I was kid, his music was always playing at home. It’s virtuosic and catchy at the same time. stevie Wonder also taught me that it’s ok to write good-mood songs. This hit, especially, just overflows with positivity. I get my artistic credo from him: make one person happy with your songs, and they will pass that happiness on.” 

Eugene McDaniels - Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse

“I’ve known McDaniels since I was young, but I didn’t know it. That’s because hip-hoppers like A tribe Called Quest sampled his music; I discovered this record two years ago. A friend gave it to me while I was searching for inspiration. I fell in love with this psychedelic soul-jazz, which I took as a starting point for my new album.” 

Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi

“My biggest heroine. the way Joni mitchell can bring together a pop sensibility and a political consciousness in her songs is fantastic. In this song alone, she takes on issues of consumer culture and urbanisation – issues I dealt with on my last album [Good things] – because really good pop music also has a social conscience.”

Cat Stevens - Father and Son

“I discovered this song on tv when I was a kid. Cat Stevens was looking very seriously into the camera. His singing, and the lyrics above all, instantly had an effect on me. To this day I can’t think of a more beautiful song about parent-child relationships. I wrote my own song, Mama Hold my Hand, as homage to this masterpiece.”

D.J. Rogers - It’s Good to Be Alive

“I heard this song coming from my housemate’s bedroom and was so excited that I transferred it from vinyl to mP3. Hardly anyone knows Rogers, unfortunately. In this soul gem he sings about social problems, and at the end he realises that despite all that, it’s good to be alive: a phrase which is now my motto for life.”

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12 2013 - 01 2014 THE RED BULLETIN

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