This beautiful Oakland soul singer has made a major impact on the music scene with her first album “Even Closer”. Now with a new album coming out and a tour about to kick off, she’s about to “Change It All”. Check out this exclusive WHO?MAG interview with the soulstress Goapele
Interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: What distinguishes you from other singers?
GOAPELE: That’s a hard question. It’s hard to compare myself from other singers and I really try hard not to do that.

WHO?MAG: How were you first introduced to music?
GOAPELE: I was first introduced to music as a baby. My parents used to always play music. My parents had a lot of parties at my house with a lot of music. I love the art in general and have always just loved music. Also dancing and drawing as well.

WHO?MAG: As a songwriter, what are your inspirations and motivations?
GOAPELE: My life experience. All of the songs I write are based off my life experiences or things that I have witnessed. It’s kind of a creative thing for me to reflect on life and what’s going on in my mind. It sometimes comes out clear like emotions that I feel. It depends on what I’m feeling or maybe a melody comes and just build around that. I have been working with different musicians and producers. Most of the music that I really enjoy definitely inspires me and motivates me to create.

WHO?MAG: What’s your escape from writers block
GOAPELE: Not writing sometimes. I think the worst thing that can happen is to pressure myself to write because all of the pressure just makes it worse. Sometimes I sit down and contact a writer friend of mine who takes me through certain exercises and writing whatever comes to my mind, even when I have nothing to say, until those words start coming. A lot of times I just write ideas that I can conclude later on. Even if it’s just one line from a song. Also, listening to other people can stimulate some kind of spark that will make me want to start writing again.

WHO?MAG: What differentiates the west coast sound from others when it comes to soul music?
GOAPELE: I think there is an unusual kind of mixture of influences, especially in the Bay area which is different from LA, even though they have they’re own movement going on out there. In the Bay, there’s a lot of different artist whether they are hip-hop, soul, or jazz and a lot of us know each other. And for me, I consider myself just in the soul scene. I’m into a lot of different kinds of music and network with a lot of different producers like the Hieroglyphics and others as well as my musicians. I think that way we can create something unique from all of the influences.

WHO?MAG: Say an artist is extremely talent, has great material, and ready to take the next step. What do they need to do to Get Recognized?
GOAPELE: I think putting on a good live show is important. It’s good to get out there and build your audience so that when you have music to promote, there is an audience ready to buy it already. The demand is then there. It also is good to get the experience for performing live and getting good representation that you can trust like a good manager who can understand your vision who is either experienced or who can learn fast. Then deciding where you want to go. It would be a good idea to start independently doing some research on which label might be compatible or going to a major. Make sure you take your time to decide what you want to get out of the situation and make sure your ready for it.

WHO?MAG: How is “Change it All” different from your first album?
GOAPELE: I have grown a lot from my first album. I wrote some of those songs a few years ago and I have been performing for a while now and I have been working with a lot of the folks from my band so a lot of them are on my album. I got to really set a chunk of time aside to just focus on writing and recording in my own studio and got to go in there write and play around with the songs so I got to record them immediately which is a lot different from the first album. Before, my recording time was limited using other studios and I had to traveling all over the place to get these songs done, so my creative energy wasn’t completely there. Subject wise, I have a wider range of material. I got to write about how I feel about my community in Oakland and different communities have been affected by different resources. The title of the album is “Change it All” which is like a campaign around the title that grew from this idea into a song into an album that is now turning into a website called www.changeitall.org. It’s going to feature all kinds of people changing their there community.

WHO?MAG: If you can change one thing about the entertainment industry, what would that be?
GOAPELE: More about the music and less about the marketing

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about technology and where it’s taking music right now?
GOAPELE: As far as the recording process, technology has been very helpful. I use Protools a lot and you can take it with you and start a song here and finish it somewhere else. I also think with technology, the naturalness can be lost in a recording. For me, I appreciate that we record more the analog way. I really enjoy the mixture of new sounds and vintage sounds which is what I wanted on this album.

WHO?MAG: What does the future hold for Goapele?
GOAPELE: A lot of touring. I am really looking forward to this album coming out in December. I am going to keep singing and writing and working with different people. Also look out for the album “Change It All” and the website www.changeitall.org. I think in the future I would like to branch out a little more into other arts as well.