Music

A few words with socially conscious crooner Aloe Blacc

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Aloe Blacc.
Photo: Dan Monick

The Details

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

Crooner Aloe Blacc returns with his brand of socially-conscious soul Thursday 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.

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

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 on stage and it makes the show more exciting and makes me more energized in the middle of the performance.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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