[INTERVIEW] Goapele Is In It For The Long Haul With Her Soulful Sound

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Goapele Talks Dreamseeker Project In Our Exclusive Interview

Oakland, California’s own pride and joy; R&B singer-songwriter, Goapele [which translates as “move forward” in Setswana; a South African dialect] has delivered her latest body of work, Dreamseeker.  Having already received critical acclaim from an array of reputable sources,  the EP is a perfect mixture of the chanteuse’s signature soulful style, that millions already know and love her for, sprinkled with a hint of modern panache and poise.

Goapele’s 2001 debut, Closer, yielded the iconic title track anthem. To date, it has racked up an impressive 6-plus million Spotify streams, and has steadily been sampled by everyone from Drake to Charles Hamilton to YG. In between rigorously touring the globe, Goapele has released four full-length albums and collaborated with a diverse array of heavy hitters; including Snoop Dogg, E-40, Eric Benét, Soulive and Jeff Bhasker. Outside of music, the 39 year-old Cancer, is committed to community activism and raising awareness for varied causes.

We caught up with Goapele for an interview to talk about the latest project and more.

Parlé Mag:  Let’s hop right into your latest single/video, “$ecret”.  Tell me about this particular track? And, how it even came to fruition?
Goapele:  I recorded “$ecret” way through the process. I was looking for a song to balance out the subject matter on the project. I wanted something sensual that had a hard-edge to it that could feel like a follow-up to the songs on my Break of Dawn album.

Parlé Mag:  “$ecret” comes courtesy of your brand new EP, Dreamseeker—conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Goapele:  Dreamseeker is what I am. I am someone that represents other people who are also seeking their dreams; change makers and other people that are trying to break into their passion. It feels like a lifestyle and a movement for me. I like titles that feel like actions and you can manifest something with them. I’ve kinda done that with all of my albums. The titles are not necessarily whatever the biggest song is, but they are the overall message I’m trying to get across at the time.

Parlé Mag:  How does Dreamseeker either differ and/or compare to previous Goapele efforts?
Goapele:  I think it’s in the vein of most of my albums and the roots that I started with. It’s a R&B Soul vibe with a Hip-Hop influence. It’s a hard edginess mixed with something more serene and beautiful to balance it.

Parlé Mag:  For it, of course, you teamed up with EMPIRE, what particular string of events actually led to this unification?
[Note: SKYBLAZE is her independent label]
Goapele:  Being an independent artist and having our label SKYBLAZE, we’ve partnered up with different labels each time. Working with EMPIRE was natural being that they’re based in the Bay Area. I feel like they understood my vision and sound already, and I like how they’re working with other artists.

Parlé Mag:  Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?
Goapele:  I’ve sung ever since I can remember. I used to go to these women and girls retreats, and I remember one time while introducing myself I was asked to do something creative and I sung a song. I remember some people smiling and tearing up, and how it changed the energy in the room. That is my first memory of seeing the direct effect that music can have on people. I wanted to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and music felt like a joyful way to do that that came naturally to me.

Parlé Mag:  Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?
Goapele:  Aretha Franklin just for her voice. Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder for creating timeless music, where if it was a love song or a song about politics it always made you feel good or sing along. Prince for his innovation and way of breaking any mode of a genre. He was so many things at once and it fit together.

Parlé Mag:  What do you want people to get from your music?
Goapele:  I want people to feel good, to feel uplifted. I want for my music to be part of people’s lives in those moments when they’re trying to get to the next level. I want to be a part of people’s transformations. I hope people make babies to my music! I like being the soundtrack to people’s lives. I hope when they put on Dreamseeker that they feel something, feel connected and feel like they have permission to be themselves or whatever they want to be.

Parlé Mag:  If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Goapele:  That is such a hard question for me. I have such a long list of people I want to collaborate with. I must say, I was happy that me and BJ (the Chicago Kid) could collaborate on “Stay.” I don’t collaborate with singers often, but I feel like he’s holding a great place in Soul music right now and it felt really fitting to get together on that song. It’s kind of fun to get to feed off of other people’s energy. I just worked with this artist Cassper Nyovest in South Africa. I’m pretty open, honestly, when the energy is good and the music is good I’ll collaborate. I just feel like you have to wait for the stars to align for it happen.

Parlé Mag:  If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Goapele:  I want to play Red Rocks! The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. I think it’s so beautiful.

Parlé Mag:  Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Goapele: For one, film. I got to dip into that world a little bit in working with Ava DuVernay, and on ‘Sparkle,’ and I just did this short film called Where Is Beauty. I would like to do more film and TV. Also, I love visual arts and I feel like fashion is a part of that. Right before this album I started a line called “Dreamseeker,” doing limited edition lifestyle fashion stuff that I would wear and maybe my fans would relate to. I would like to get deeper into that.

Parlé Mag:  Let’s discuss your community activism; specifically this AIDS Healthcare Foundation that’s near and dear to you…
Goapele:  Women and girls’ health has always been important to me. When I learned about the alarming rate that young women of color are catching HIV/AIDS, I wanted to get involved. I became an ambassador of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, along with Raheem DeVaughn, just trying to open up the discussion in different communities and talk about why these statistics are coming up, and to be honest about our lives and how we are or not using protection, the stigmas, the truth and the myths so we can start bringing those numbers down.

Parlé Mag:  Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years down the line, where do you see yourself?
Goapele:  I see myself a couple more albums deep, I see myself having performed internationally, I see myself being involved in a couple more films, gathering with more activists and cultural leaders and watching my daughter grow up.

Parlé Mag:  As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Goapele?
Goapele:  Right now, I’m just sharing the new music. I’m currently working on a couple more videos, and I’m excited that I have more visuals this time around.

Parlé Mag:  Any “parting” message(s) for our readers?
Goapele:  Following your dreams and passions is a marathon, so be prepared for the long haul.  And thank you to people who have been here since the beginning.

Main image credit:
Additional Image credit:  James Branaman

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Todd Davis

Veteran music journalist and indie publicist Todd Davis, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has contributed to a variety of national, regional, online, weekly and daily media outlets; including The Source, XXL & Billboard, to name a few, is happy to report that he has recently joined the Parlé Magazine family. Looking forward to many great things to come...

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