Cape Town – Ahead of his performance at Oppikoppi this weekend, US soul artist Aloe Blacc sat down with us for a chat.
Aloe, born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, visited South Africa in 2008, but he didn’t get to see much and experience much of the country as he was in the studio most of the time. "This time, just driving in, I was able to see much more, and I visited Robben Island yesterday, for the second time as well. I was greeted with a day full of inspiration."
Speaking about inspiration, we asked Aloe why he named his daughter Mandela. "My wife, my Jupiter and I, are what we like to call artivists, activists and artists. We enjoy participating in the community and help create positive social change. So we want our daughter to have a sense of a connection to the rest of the world, a sense of her connection to humanity. And I think naming her after Nelson Mandela, and the legacy of the Mandela family, will help to remind her of her place in the world and what she’s capable of doing."
Aloe also plans to visit Table Mountain before he heads to Northam to perform at the 20th annual Oppikoppi music festival.
And is he prepared for all the dusty craziness that is Oppikoppi? "I'm excited because I enjoy festivals, I love being able to share my music with a new audience. At a festival you have the challenge of winning over new fans, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.
"There’s a festival in the Nevada desert called Coachella, it’s very dusty, it’s a summer festival that gets very hot as well, so I think I’m familiar with what I’m looking forward to."
Aloe started making music from a very young age, and it all started with a trumpet. It was also only a hobby for him until he was laid off from a corporate job. This led to his hit track, I Need a Dollar and to Aloe taking on music in a full time capacity.
His most recent success came with the track Wake Me Up, which he co-wrote with Swedish DJ Avicii. "He needed someone to do soul vocals on his album, and he invited me," says Aloe. "We got into the studio with Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, he plays the guitar on the track, and it just all came together."
Aloe has released three albums of which the latest one, Lift Your Spirit, was released in November 2013. Although music is his big thing, Aloe is also an aspiring actor. "I have a small cameo in the upcoming film about the life of James Brown, Get On Up. I would love to do more acting in the future."
1) One thing no one knows about you? - "There’s a million things…"
2) Favourite drink? - "Cranberry juice."
3) Perfect date night? - "That would be with my wife. Cooking a nice meal after I’ve put the baby to sleep. Eating it on the balcony while the sun sets."
4) Favourite song to party to? - "DJ Rogers – It’s Good To Be Alive."
5) Favourite instrument to play? - "Piano."
We asked Aloe to define a few proudly South African dishes for us. This is what he had to say:
Melktert: "A milk dud?"
Koeksister: "Some sort of chicken dish?"
Biltong: "A beef dish?"
Lekke: "It’s when something is not cool."
Catch Aloe Blacc live this weekend at the Oppikoppi music festival. Get all the details here.