Still Doing It Her Way – Goapele Interview

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Singer/songwriter, Goapele broke out of the Bay Area in 2001 after releasing her first release, Closer, her debut single and album of the same name. She has never looked backed. We had the pleasure of speaking with her recently discussing the beginning of her career as well as her upcoming performance at SOB’s on September 8th in NYC. Continue reading to see what she has in store. Continue reading to learn more about the Goapele interview.

Parlé Magazine: Let’s get right into it. You have a new fan. I was listening to your music this morning and I was quite impressed. “Play” is nice.
Goapele:  Aww! Thank you! It’s always nice to like what you’re working on. Huh?

Parlé:  Yes. “Play” is really nice. I like that song. I really love your style. I was impressed.
Goapele:  Thank you! “Play” was produced by an emerging production group, (Teddy Thunderbolt & Dan Electric) out of the Bay Area.
Parlé:  What age were you when you knew you wanted to sing?
Goapele:  Well, I was in the 2nd or the 3rd grade when I knew I wanted to sing. And I was probably sixteen in high school when I knew I was going to follow through with music as my career.

Parlé:  Did you have a lot of support in the beginning?
Goapele:  Yeah. I think my family is all music lovers and I grew up with albums constantly playing in the house so I feel like it wasn’t a career path that I had to struggle with my parents about. And, they’d take me to see a lot of live shows growing up and some friends of ours were South African artists that used to perform locally and around eight years old, my parents would let me get on stage with them and sing and it was comfortable and no pressure. I felt like music was treated just like any other career choice that I would’ve made. I would sing at community events and just basically wanted to touch people and interact with people that way.
Parlé:  I’ve heard many times that being a woman in the music business definitely has its challenges. What challenges have faced and what would you say to a young girl or woman that is entering the industry with little knowledge?
Goapele:  I would say think about what’s really important to you and what’s the biggest reason that you’re doing music for and then surround yourself with people that are going to support you with music that you believe in doing. And I think for some people, that’s performing, for some, that’s performing their own songs, for some people that’s writing, and there’s even some female producers out, there are female engineers out there too. I think we’re just kind of representative women but all you have to do is DO it. Take yourself seriously and don’t be afraid to be called the “B” word just because you’re strong.

Parlé:  Goapele-it’s my understanding that you release your projects under your own independent label, Skyblaze. Besides wanting to be hands-on; how did you make the decision to not want a machine behind you (the majors)?
Goapele:  Well, you know what; one of our slogans was, when we put out the second album which was actually put out by Sony but SkyBlaze was still involved was, “Big things start small.” I think we always were really hands on but we wanted to present ourselves like we’re competing with larger companies out there. Like taking ourselves seriously and really trying to give the best quality work even though in the beginning it was with very limited resources. And I think for me starting on a family small label gave me more of a perspective of what all it takes to build a record, to promote, to reach people. And one of the first shows I was doing, it was all people I knew that were passing out flyers, (laughs) putting up posters, stapling together posters, walking around getting email lists—just very hands on, figuring out how to get the sound right and working with the lighting person. All of that and really doing a lot of live shows to build a fan base so that there were people out there that would support the music I was doing so that it could be decided by the public rather than just program directors at the radio stations. It’s built a strong foundation and has allowed me to have longevity.

Goapele parle mag interview
Goapele for parle mag

Parlé: You have a show coming up at SOB’s in New York City on September 8th? What’s it feel like preparing for that and your other upcoming shows?
Goapele:  It feels great! I’ve performed a lot at SOB’s over the years and other rooms in the New York area. It always feels good to go back to a warm room like SOB’s in a place that is so historical. It has featured so many other artists that I’m into so I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to getting back out to DC as well. I’ll be performing at the Howard Theater for the first time, which I’m really excited about. I’m looking forward to getting back to Atlanta. I’m going to be doing The Music One Festival with a lot of other acts. And also, hitting Charlotte and places that I haven’t got to go and do new music in a lot of those places.

Parlé:  Do you ever get used to the love from your fans or is each time like the first time?
Goapele:  I think what I’ve gotten more used to is getting on stage and doing shows even if I’m nervous. I think the response that I get from the audience is something that depends a lot more on the moment so a lot of times that feels brand new because you never know what you’re going to get and what the energy exchange is going to be. It feels awesome to walk off stage and feel like we were really in a moment of time together.

Parlé: What else can we expect from Goapele?
Goapele:  I’m working on a new album now that should be coming out early 2014. And people should go out there and pick up Break of Dawn or Break of Dawn Deluxe if they already haven’t. And, I’m also working on new music for film and television. There’s a song that‘s going to come out next month when “Baggage Claim” comes out—a hot romantic comedy with Paula Patton. I did a jazz ballad with my friend Ricky Minor. It’s called, “Is it Love.” It’s going to be in there. I look forward to doing more music in film. It’s always exciting when there’s a visual for the sound.

Parlé:  Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Goapele:  I would just say that people just visit It always has when I’m doing shows if they wanted to be added to the list of when I’m coming to their area; that’s a good way to keep in touch.

Parlé:  Thanks again for doing this interview, much continued success on everything. It was my pleasure speaking with you.
Goapele:  Thank you too. Have a good day!

You can find Goapele on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram by simply searching her name.

Main image by Brigitte Lacombe for Miu Miu

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