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December 19, 2014

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Q+A: Socially conscious crooner Aloe Blacc brings a little heart and soul to the Cosmopolitan

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Aloe Blacc.

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Aloe Blacc.

If you go

Aloe Blacc
Thursday, July 26, 2012, 7 p.m., $20
Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool, 698-7000

Crooner Aloe Blacc returns with his brand of socially conscious soul today at the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool. We caught up with the singer, who’s been likened to Al Green and Marvin Gaye, to discuss performing, his next record and why he believes in music with a message.

Andrea Domanick: You’ve spent the past year and a half touring relentlessly since your last album "Good Things" came out. Do you see yourself as more of a performer or a studio artist?

Aloe Blacc: Right now I am more of a performer. We’ve done so many shows at this point that I really enjoy that creative process. When we get onstage, my band and I really tend to perform for each other, which is one way for us to keep the energy and the excitement centered and focused on the music. We have a lot of fun, and the material that we play is so familiar to us now that we can mess around with it.

There are times where the band, in my absence, might rehearse something that they didn’t tell me about, so it’s a nice surprise onstage, and it makes the show more exciting and makes me more energized in the middle of the performance.

A.D.: Do you write on the road?

A.B.: Yeah, that’s one of the good things. Motion helps keep me inspired, so I’ve created a lot of song ideas for my next album on the road. But then there’s no time to record them, so I’ve spent the last month putting everything into a form where it’s ready to record when I get back.

A.D.: When might we hear a new record from you? And what can we expect from it?

A.B.: My hope is before winter. Right now it’s a mixture of soul music and some elements of classic rock that I like and some elements of hip-hop, which is my foundation in the industry.

A.D.: "Good Things" was very much inspired by the social and economic context of the recession and the past few years. In terms of that, how will we see your music evolve on the next record?

A.B.: I continue to write songs that are topically related to social, political and economic issues of our time, but I also recognize that onstage, I have a lot of fun and audiences have a lot of fun, so I’m trying to package the messages in music and sounds that are fun to perform and fun to listen to. It’s almost like when Michael Jackson sung “Black or White.” He was making a huge political and social statement, but it was one of the biggest pop songs of all time.

A.D.: There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not music today can have the same kind of cultural impact it did in the '60s and '70s, whether it can still be a tool to get a message across. Clearly you think it can. Why?

A.B.: In school, I studied psychology, linguistics, neuroscience. I understand that there is a real lack of respect for the brain. We develop social systems for the handicapped, but when you’re handicapped in your mind, society doesn’t handle those situations well. I think we don’t recognize or acknowledge the power of messages and how deeply affected we all are by the messages we receive from the media.

Music, especially as an adolescent, helps to build identity because that’s when people start developing a sense of self. You can kind of tell based on what music a person listens to what kind of person they’ll be pretty much for the rest of their life. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m gonna bet on being right and making good music for people that can reinforce positive ideas and ideologies.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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