Advertisement - Content continues below
Music

Aloe Blacc: ‘Working with Avicii was huge’

In the second in the video series, Aloe Blacc joined The Big Issue for The Music That Made Me to reveal the moments that shaped him. Watch the video interview here.

Aloe Blacc is a platinum-selling singer, songwriter, producer and activist who aims to use his voice to bring about change in the world. With his huge 2010 hit I Need A Dollar, Blacc captured a hand-to-mouth experience familiar to many.

He recently returned with his new album All Love Everything, an album he hopes “could be there to hold you and carry you and lift you”.

He joined The Big Issue on The Music That Made Me to explore the artists who inspired his transformative, emotional approach.

A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke

I am indebted to soul greats like Sam Cooke, who use their voice and their artistry in such a way to inspire a person like me to sing. When I had the opportunity to record with one of my favourite hip-hop producers [Oh No], I recorded an entire album of rap songs then there was one more beat left to record to and I decided to sing A Change Is Gonna Come. He was so impressed that he took it to his label and they were gracious enough to sign me – not as a rapper but a vocalist. And that started my career as a singer.

Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

Joni Mitchell’s voice, her musicianship, her lyricism – all of it is very unique and super inspiring. She is one of a kind. When she wrote songs, you could feel that the stories were genuine and true and deep. And when she sang those songs, you could really get a sense of her humanity. That, to me, is the hallmark of a great artist.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

Redemption Song, Bob Marley 

Bob Marley is an example of an artivist. He is an artist who used his voice in the way that an activist would push for change. Redemption Song is about the history of oppression, the history of servitude and subjugation that Africans faced in the slave trade. He was not afraid to put these lyrics into his music and to share that with the world. He knew he had a platform that could humanise his ancestors, his peers, himself and his descendants.

Lean On Me, Bill Withers

Another one of my heroes is the late Bill Withers. In his lifetime he accomplished so much but within his music career he accomplished so much in such a short time. Lean On Me is such an important message. When you’re feeling down, or you’re depressed, songs can lift you up. They are a playground you can play in all day long as they run through your head and give you a little bit of spirit. Whether or not you have a friend near to help you get through a tough time, a song can be your friend, the artist’s voice can be your friend, the melody can be your friend. That for me was very instructive, writing songs that can potentially be there to hold you and carry you.

Working with Avicii on Wake Me Up

A huge musical moment for me was writing and performing Wake Me Up with Avicii [in 2013]. There’s no telling what a song is going to do, where it’s going to go and how it’s going to affect people. You just have to know that it’s something that means something to you when you write it. And hopefully it’ll resonate with other people.

The deluxe version of Aloe Blacc’s All Love Everything album is out now on BMG. www.aloeblacc.com

Read Imelda May talking about how a U2 gig changed her life

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support your local vendor

Give your vendor a hand up and buy the magazine. Big Issue vendors are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. But, at the same time, they are micro-entrepreneurs. By supporting their business, you can help them overcome homelessness, financial instability and other social disadvantages that hold them back.

Recommended for you

Read All
Terry Hall: 'The Specials have always been about protest'
Music

Terry Hall: 'The Specials have always been about protest'

Shaun Ryder: 'It will always be one rule for them and another rule for us'
Music

Shaun Ryder: 'It will always be one rule for them and another rule for us'

Jake Bugg X Jamal Edwards in Nottingham: 'Younger people are suffering'
Music

Jake Bugg X Jamal Edwards in Nottingham: 'Younger people are suffering'

Nathan Evans: Wellerman star says Ed Sheeran made him want to sing
Music

Nathan Evans: Wellerman star says Ed Sheeran made him want to sing

Most Popular

Read All
Only 30 MPs turn up to debate cutting universal credit
1.

Only 30 MPs turn up to debate cutting universal credit

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick sacked in cabinet reshuffle
2.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick sacked in cabinet reshuffle

More than 70 MPs back motion to stop ministers lying in parliament
3.

More than 70 MPs back motion to stop ministers lying in parliament

Universal credit: What is it and why does the £20 increase matter?
4.

Universal credit: What is it and why does the £20 increase matter?