Aloe Blacc has been evolving his own musical genre. “I fell in love with hip hop,” says Blacc. “But I found my way to soul music and folk music. That’s what I feel I make now; a hybrid. I feel like folk and soul is where my lyrics and voice rest.” Perhaps it’s hard to pin the smooth instrumentals and silky soft bass lines of Blacc because each and every one of his songs started not with a traditional grouping of a genre’s instruments and beats, but with a feeling. For Blacc, that feeling sparks the creative process.
“Every song is born in a different way.” – @AloeBlacc
Blacc started as a hip-hop artist, often sampling jazz chords and folk tunes in his work. He kept exploring, and began to think outside the box – leading him to fully express those original feelings that spur him into writing and creating. “I think the reason why I took a break from hip-hop was to be more expressive lyrically and find ways to approach different kinds of emotion that I thought were almost taboo or restricted in hip-hop,” says Blacc. “I feel like what I miss in hip-hop, I’m able to integrate into songwriting in other forms.”
“I want to use my music for positive social change, and I want to use my music to create harmony.” – @AloeBlacc
The feeling that Blacc hopes to transcend across his music is one of optimism and unity. As an artist, he directs his talents to impact positive social change. “We can all work together to make this a better place for everybody. Music makes people happy. My goal is to use my music to give people a chance to play. Everybody gets the chance to be part of a harmony.” Ultimately, it’s about building harmony through the music, and through the world of the listener. To Blacc, the listener is the final piece of a perfect harmony.
“Harmony requires two notes, and we all resonate a note.” – @AloeBlacc
Blacc as an artist is thorough, collaborative, and mechanically studied with his craft. He’s inspired by – and surrounds himself with – musicians who are precise and deliberate with their lyrics but also very unique in their sound. The albums he plays again and again are from musicians of the past, he says, who took risks for the sake of their art and whose work inspires him to want to be a better artist.
“The artists that have inspire me are the ones who have the strongest lyrics with the most unique melodies.” – @AloeBlacc
This influence is apparent in his sound: “I think ultimately what will make people fall in love with my artistry is that they know that they can get something that’s high quality and something that’s different every go-round,” says Blacc. As a firm believer in reinvention, he knows that his fanbase will require some consistency, but as time goes on his work will evolve based on new inspirations, technique, and the players involved. “But there may be something that’s similar, and perhaps that’s my voice. My voice won’t change. It is what it is.”
“We never want to play something the same way twice.” – @AloeBlacc
Blacc has been working with the same band for the better part of a decade. His collaborators are, like him, risk takers, and together they make a harmonious team. “When it comes time to go into the studio, we just get into the world of the music. I think that’s really what keeps it together is being able to shut off at a certain point and to take all the madness that’s going on outside and sort of rearrange it in the studio without being affected by what’s going on in the outside world,” says Blacc.
“Recordings last forever and this is what history is going to remember of us.” – @AloeBlacc
It’s that energy of collaborative creation, and that need to keep evolving that keeps Blacc constantly moving forward, exploring, and writing. Always writing.
“I can’t not write. I wake up with songs, and I go to sleep with songs.” – @AloeBlacc
Peel back the layers of an Aloe Blacc song, and beneath every carefully placed note, you can find the social message, and ultimately the feeling that started it all. “For some reason after going back and extrapolating the message behind most of my songs it has to do with the struggle of the underdog, the common man’s plight, and the idea that there is a better tomorrow, if we can just make it through today.”
These layers resonate with perfect clarity in Blacc’s song, Love Is the Answer. “I wanted to sum up all of the solutions in one statement,” says Blacc. “The answer is love. I don’t think you can slice it any other way.”
Love Is the Answer is a song with a message of optimism, created in the spirit of harmony and collaboration, and based on numerous sources of inspiration and creative input. This song and Blacc’s process inspired us to collaborate on a re-recording of the work and a groundbreaking interactive performance that allows the audience to explore the song from various views and stories.
Peel back the layers, and watch the reimagined “Love Is the Answer” here.