Interview: Aloe Blacc kicks off new KCET music series 'Studio A'

Aloe Blacc is treating music fans to a special acoustic performance tonight as the first artist on KCET's new music series, "Artbound Presents Studio A." The Grammy Award-nominated hitmaker will perform a unique five-song set from the intimate stage of KCET Studios tonight at 10 p.m., and you can watch the trailer above. AXS had the opportunity to chatwith Blacc before his performance.

AXS: How did you become involved with "Artbound Presents Studio A" and what made you want to participate?
Aloe Blacc (AB): I learned of the show from my good friends in the Grammy Award-winning band Quetzal, when they suggested that my wife Maya Jupiter perform. I was featured in her performance because I helped write and produce her album, and I sing on a few of the songs.

AXS: Give us a general sense of what we can expect from your set. What are we going to hear tonight?
AB: I've long admired songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and this performance will be a demonstration of my love for folk music and storytelling. I try to make storytelling a core element of all my music, but the folk song is the purest vehicle for story, and message. I don't want to be preachy in my message, but at the same time, try to find the balance in bringing awareness to social justice issues, and even just human issues, versus putting them in the audience's face.

AXS: How different was the "Studio A" performance from what you normally do as a touring artist?
AB: Normally when I'm on the road, I perform with my full band, The Grand Scheme. I tend to keep it lively with dance and lots of audience participation. Here in the KCET studios, it was a much more intimate affair.

AXS: What comes after this? Do you have any plans to release new music in the remainder of 2017?
AB: I've been in writing-mode for some time now, and have a lot of songs I'm looking forward to sharing. Right now it's about putting together the right songs for the album. I hope to have something out this winter or following spring. In the meantime, I'm still enjoying my latest release A King Is Born. It's a high-energy cocktail of powerful horn samples, driving drums, and motivational lyrics.

AXS: Do you have any other upcoming performance dates we should be looking for, or places you'd like to play next?
AB: With my focus on the album, my performance schedule has been in low gear, but that should change in the near future. I've been fortunate to knock several great venues off my list, like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, but there's plenty left, not the least of which includes the Grand Ole Opry, "Saturday Night Live," and the Super Bowl.

AXS: What would you say is the best performance you've ever done? Is there a set that sticks in your memory?
AB: I was honored to sing two songs at Carnegie Hall for a tribute and celebration of one of my greatest inspirations and musical mentors, Bill Withers. Mr. Withers was in attendance, and I was among heady company, each singing their own covers. Fortunately I didn't let the weight of the moment distract me and I was able to share my tribute to my hero.

AXS: Who's one fellow artist that you love to watch perform live?
Stevie Wonder. The songs are so good, that it's hard not to feel their joy even when being covered, but we're lucky to still have the legend himself lay down the love live.

"Artbound Presents Studio A" airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on KCET. Visit the KCET website to find the channel in your area as well as more information about the program and upcoming artists.