Een tijdje terug hadden we een interview met de Amerikaanse artiest Aloe Blacc, die je kent van dit nummer. We begonnen het interview met een envelopje. In het envelopje zat een dollar. Op die dollar stond: “Share your story”. Vanaf hier begon het interview.
A: Oh wow, that’s special. Clever! You see, guys don’t think of things like this. Do you want the long version or the short version?
R: What do you think?
A: Ok. One day way way back on a stormy night in Jamaica. There was a man who had a son, his son’s name was Edward Nathanial Dawkins His son would grow up in a land called Panama, where he would eventually work on the canal, just so the Americans could make a lot of money- shipping things in from China. The place where little kids make shoes all day! But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about Edward Nathanial Dawkins. It’s not about child labour and communism, it’s not about capitalism and the problems with it. It’s about a man in Panama who had 13 kids. And on his 10th child he had a son and he declared: “You know what? I might not have anymore kids I’m gonna name this kid Edward Nathanial Dawkins II. This kid is gonna be the smartest, the hardest working and the most aggressive of them all. He will achieve bigger and better things for his family”.
And that was my father. Later, he would leave Panama in search of the American dream. He established himself with my mother and they had me, Edward Nathanial Dawkins III- No, I’m not British although I sound like it!
I grew up in a really good family. My parents were happily married. My mother made sure the family settled in a nice neighborhood, where I could get a good education. I excelled in school, I was the only black kid in a neighborhood full of white kids so I was popular already. That really helped to build my confidence. Being smart and athletic helped me too- I was just a big bubbling ball of self-esteem. Then I got into hip-hop and I was good at that. And that also helped me to belief in myself. I realized at a young age that self-esteem was a really important thing and it’s good to have parents who treat you right, give you a good education and good opportunities. When I look at the world around me and at some of the folks that don’t have a lot. They have a barrier to success, a barrier for growth, they will never have the opportunity to feel good about themselves- especially poor people. My parents always wanted a different life for me, I didn’t have to go through the stuff they had to go through……. Well you said you wanted the long story!
R: So actually you’re spoiled, you think you could conquer setbacks?
A:I conquer everything that could happen in the future already! Look. This is life right. This is a theory and it doesn’t sound very practical. But this will work until it breaks. This is life. We are born, we get to experience breathing, eating, laughing and maybe sometimes fighting and then we die. So between birth and death we have to make it into whatever we want it to be. I’m writing my own chapters in life. Although you can’t always write everything, some things just happen, it’s how you deal with it- how you respond. My attitude is: If it makes me happy I will continue to do it. If it makes me sad I will stop doing it. If I have no control over it. I wont bother. Just let it be.
R: So the moment you needed a dollar, you turned it into something positive and started to write a song about it?
A: Well the idea for the song came to me before I really needed a dollar. But when I lost my job after being laid off from a big corporation I wasn’t worried.
A: I never worry, I don’t know, when I was in college my roommate would ask me ‘Are you afraid that you wont make enough money?’ My answer was no, I think I’ll always be able to eat because that’s what I need, food and shelter. Everything else is entertainment, like clothes. I’m happy I have these clothes because I think I look good. But it’s not necessary. And I’m happy that I can watch tv, because it makes me laugh sometimes but its not necessary. So my philosophy is so simple. My dad told me once, ‘I don’t need anything’ he said if ‘I didn’t have a house or a car, if I was living in the wilderness I would survive’. And I believe him because I know he can. He comes from Panama and he has been in the wilderness and he survived. I take this concept and think humans were able to do this before. If I have to strip it down to food and shelter it’s just fine.
R: You forgot love?
A: Love is the most important.
“I was the only black kid in a neighborhood full of white kids so I was popular already”
R: Isn’t it ironic that you are at this point in you life where you think you don’t need anything and you make a song about needing dollars?
A: I make songs about everything. Songs come to me as they are, I cant help it. With ‘I need a dollar’ just the chorus came to me one day. I thought ‘wow’ this is kinda fun. So I made the full song. I can’t help making music. Some artist’s when they draw they think arrrrrgh this is terrible. They screw it up and throw it away. I never throw away a song. I make songs and they maybe terrible but I keep them. Even if it’s not good to me, it maybe good to someone else and even if its not good to someone else it maybe good for me. Everything has value, so I try to give it it’s place.
R: So, when did you learn this ‘lets love life’ theory?
Probably at high school. I had compassion for people who didn’t have it as good as me. I feel just lucky really lucky. Lucky I have good parents, lucky to have had a great education.
R. So, worst case scenario- What if it doesn’t go as you want with your career, what are you gonna do?
A. Worst case scenario?
R: This interview sucks!, you’re such a positive person how can we get to the bottom of this?
A. Haha. No No No, there is no worst case scenario. If I work with people, I’m already happy. When I was a business consultant I didn’t particularly enjoy my job but I enjoyed the people I worked with. There are a million ways to accept your condition. I really accept my condition right now. If you can find what you love to do, whether you get paid a lot of money or no money then that’s what you should be doing. At the same time you have to figure out how to eat.
R: How do you wanna help the people who cant figure out how to eat?
A: Well, I wanna earn a lot of money making music and give it to the poor people to level their surrounding. I don’t mind people who are extremely rich like Bill Gates, as long as while he is extremely rich there are no hungry, homeless, uneducated people without healthcare. If everybody has at least that. It doesn’t have to be the best but at least some. Then I’m ok with anybody getting as rich as they want. But if Bill Gates has 2 billion dollars in his bank account today and there are 2 million starving people today on the streets, then there is something wrong with that money being in the bank. That money is not serving any purpose. What is the purpose of money anyway? Money is a new sort of food. So, if that’s food inside the bank and these people need it, it’s in the wrong place. And my job is to become popular enough to figure out how to get that money out of the bank to give it to the people who need it. That’s my job.
“I make songs about everything. Songs come to me as they are, I cant help it.”
R: That’s a great job good luck with that.
A: I think it is possible, If I do well enough somebody could follow me, I like this conversation.
R: We do too. Lets go on. Which kind of person do you look up to in life?
A: I really like experts. I think I’m a person who is sort of good in everything but I really look up to experts, people who have mastered one thing in life.
R: Can you name one?
A: Quincy jones. He plays every kind of instrument. He understands music theory backwards and forwards, he makes amazing music. He has worked with what I consider to be some of the greatest musical artists of our time.
Outside of the music: Einstein. He perfected math. He developed concepts and ideas that were out of reach for other people I admire his perfection. He had a great philosophy on life too. Ok, visual art: I always believe Denzel Washington. There hasn’t been a movie where I didn’t believe him.
R: Ok you have a great philosophy, you seem like a stand up guy, why the fuck do you live in LA?
A: I tried to get out of LA. If you look at my last few twitters LA is not the place for me. What I love about Amsterdam is you have much less advertising. I know you have them but in LA they are everywhere. Capitalism is everywhere always pushing, you have no choice. I need to get out of LA.
“If you look at my last few twitters LA is not the place for me.”
R: Sounds like it and soon before they turn you into a Capitalistic Monster.
A: They can only change when I get into the system as a spy and turn the nob from fakeness to realness.
R:Which place do you really want to visit in your life?
A: The Himalayas. I want to go to the African jungle. I want to try and live off the land. Like my dad did. I want to learn what it is to really make food. The cycle of life. I want to know what humans should know. I know how to wear shoes, drive a car, sit in a airplane. I really don’t know how to grow a avocado. I know how to eat it but I should know how to grow it. I would like to go to a place away from any outside influence.
R:How old are you now?
R:When do you wanna do it?
A:In my 50’s but before than I have a lot of work to do.
R: Sounds like ‘Into the Wild’ – don’t eat the berries!
A: It’s an experiment, I wanna try. I wrote a song called ‘Before I die’ with all these things in it. And then the movie came out, I thought well wait a minute.
R: What is your biggest fear?
A: Physical torture. The strange thing about it is that I can feel that I can conquer it. I can hold a hot pan but maybe thats because my skin is thicker. I think its more about having the right breathing through it.
R: When do you think you have to deal with it?
A: I probably never will have to deal with it unless they catch me being a spy.
“I really don’t know how to grow a avocado.”
R: Tell us something about you wife.
A: She is a musician. We share the same things in art and life. We met when she interviewed me in Australia. We became friends soon after. We really enjoyed one another’s company. She made the move to LA for me. She is a lyricist and we make music together.
R: Where did you propose?
A: You got an exclusive here. We were in Mexico between the pyramids experiencing culture and history.
R: Sounds good.
A: I told you I’m lucky. I have to share my good fortune like Robin Hood.
R:Do you wanna have kids?
A: I want to raise kids, having my own would be nice but I definitely want to raise them. I want to build a army of happy people. I cant make them all myself, I had thought of establishing an orphanage. A places where I can raise children who have no parents and give them a proper education and make them more than they ever thought they could be.
“I want to build a army of happy people”
Aloe heeft een paar dagen geleden een prachtige cover van Michael Jackson gedropt. Check ‘m hier.