Aloe Blacc's latest hit single is called The Man, and the California soul singer is definitely living up to the title with a successful album, arena tours and for being the voice of arguably last year's biggest single, the bluegrass meets dance stomper that is Wake Me Up.
The 35-year-old is taking all the attention in stride. Speaking before tonight’s performance at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre as part of the inaugural Blended festival, Blacc is satisfied that success came after 10 years of being in the industry.
“It’s better this way,” he says. “I got the chance to grow older and learn about the business. It also gave me the chance to refine my character as a person in order to understand why I do what I do.”
The last time you were in the UAE was in 2012, performing club shows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Now you’re headlining festivals and performing in arenas. How has the change been for you?
Indeed, a lot of things have changed since then. I had a great time in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on that occasion and since then my career went through lots of changes and, of course, the song I did with Avicii, Wake Me Up, became so successful that it made a huge difference in my career.
Before Wake Me Up you also scored a global hit with the 2010 single I Need a Dollar. What’s the fame like this time around?
It is a different feeling in the sense that Wake Me Up is Avicii's song. I Need a Dollar was different in that this was my song and people were requesting that from me.
Did the success of Wake Me Up influence the direction of your new album Lift Your Spirit?
I was already in the studio working on songs for my album when I worked with Avicii and Mike Einziger (the co-songwriter and guitarist for Incubus) on Wake Me Up. That song became successful because it spoke to everybody. It also has that feeling of nostalgia that everyone could relate to. That was also my goal with Lift Your Spirit, to create music that could really inspire people – and I was able to do that.
What made you take on a more positive attitude with this new album?
I would say that I was just in a happier place than on the first album, Good Things. I wanted to create an album that was different; the last album was very political and wasn't as happy and bright. I wanted Lift Your Spirit to sound positive so that when you hear it, you can feel joy.
Lift Your Spirit has a stripped-down acoustic version of Wake Me Up. Were you concerned people would be sick of it by now?
When we first recorded that song it was only vocals and guitar. I always wanted my fans to hear that acoustic version of the song, so when it came to my album I added that in there. I think my version is about the songwriting, it is about the lyrics and the melody without so much depending on the dance music and the style.
This time around you’re coming to Dubai with a band. What’s the full-band experience like?
It’s going to be very exciting with lots of energy. One thing that I like to do in my live shows is that I want them to be inclusive. I want the audience to be singing and dancing along with me.
Now that you’re back in the UAE, any experiences you want to try again?
My favourite experience was the dune bashing. That was really fun and I am telling the band who are coming with me that they gotta do that.
• Aloe Blacc performs tomorrow as part of day one of Blended, which also features Xavier Rudd and Joss Stone. On Friday, Elvis Costello will perform with Diana Krall. Day tickets start at Dh350 from www.timeouttickets.com
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