People might have a hard time pronouncing Goapele’s name but after listening to
the album they will learn what great music is. Her debut CD Even Closer
gives your 14 tracks of soulful, sensual, music that good for the soul. The
title track alone will force you press the repeat button and listen to it all day long.
Everyone has been singing the praises of Goaplele. She has become one of the
sought after talents. Her collaboration resume reads
like a who’s who in the Neo-Soul and hip-hop arena. Doing joints with Raphael
Saddiq, Soulive, E-40, the Hieroglyphics, and the list continues to grow and
Goapele was just recently awarded SF Weekly Award for “Best Soul and R&B
Artist.” And her song “Closer” will be featured be featured on the upcoming
Jessica Alba movie soundtrack, “Honey.” Allhiphop.com recently spoke with
Goapele and heres what transpired.
Do people mess up your name a lot? What are some of the worst translations
All the time all my life. A lot of times I’ve introduced my self as Cuapalay
which the g sounds more like an h and people may get confused and think Im
trying to say popular or gospel or something that is just a regular word in
English that had nothing to do with my name. They look at me like oh my
god I know someone didn’t name her that. That’s not her nickname. Theres
different crazy variations of anything that could sound like Cuapalay since
its so unfamiliar. Anything that can rhyme with a word. It’s a South African
name it means go forward. Its my grandmothers maiden name.
What was the process for you to write the title track, “Closer?”
Closer was a song that was really was kind of a train of thought and a much
more spontaneous kind of song than anything I’ve written. Amp Live and Mike
Tiger who are both producers from the Bay Area produced the track and just
brought it to me and just said it’s a vibe track and I immediately really
liked it. And I was finishing the EP that I was doing and was finally gonna
get my music out there and was gonna finally let it go and let people hear
it and was really excited. The words for Closer just started coming to me
over the music and then just really informally went into the studio and
started recording it just as a rough idea because I wanted the feeling to
come across and we ended up just sticking with that first raw version. It
was more the feeling and a stream of self consciousness.
AHHA: What was it like meeting Prince?
I have been wanting to meet Prince for a long time. I have been a fan for a
long time and he came to the show at the Knitting Factory in L.A. and I
guess about maybe 2 months ago. It was definitely a surprise. I wasn’t
expecting him to come. I was expecting some other people to come and it was
a great turnout and a lot of energy and a lot of folks there and Raphael
Saddiq came and hes come to a couple shows and that was just his offer. That
was really nice. That was kind of the icing on the cake at the end of the
show my brother came and said “Prince came, Prince is here lets go up there
and meet him.” I had heard that Magic Johnson was gonna come and Dre and
Raphael Saddiq and these other people so I was already just like so
flattered and excited and I had already been anticipating that. Magic
Johnson didn’t end up coming but he came to the next show. I just wouldn’t
have expected that and just to be such a big fan and have a surprise like
that is really touching and amazing. I went up there and talked to Prince a
little bit. I was nervous but I think sometimes when I’m nervous I seem
really calm so it was kind of a quiet conversation. I didn’t go crazy or
anything but in my mind I was just like Wow Im sitting next to Prince right
AHHA: Do you feel like you’ve moved closer to your dream?
I feel like Im getting closer to my dream all the time if theres really any
measuring point or in the goal or anything like that. Constantly I’m trying
to move forward and I can feel it a lot of the time. I feel like theres been
a lot of blessings along the way and little benchmarks that just makes me
feel like this is happening and I’m moving more towards really what I’m
supposed to be doing.
AHHA:Who was your favorite person to work with?
As far as people that I have done shows with that I would like to work more
with is like Raphael Saddiq, and Talib Kweli. We did a show with The Roots
and that band is so phenomenal. Jazzy Jeff I really like . Dead prez, Mystic
and Eryka Badu and theres a lot of people that I’ve met now as fans and its
been really good to get support and see that from a lot of them and I would
love to collaborate at some time. Especially when its mutual just artist
that I’m feeling and artists that are really feeling where I’m coming from.
I think its just a matter of time for me to do something with them.
AHHA: You’ve worked with E-40 tell me something about that?
I just met E-40 a little while ago. I really like him. He is on a remix of
“Got It” from my album and we did a song together on his album. I really
liked the song and I enjoyed the experience just getting to meet him and
getting to do something with him. I’ve been hearing his music for a long
time especially out here in the Bay and its tight to see him getting more
recognized for a lot of stuff that hes done nationally and just how many
people say his words basically. I think hes getting more recognized for his
contributions and the language and all that. It’s tight for me to work with
AHHA:What kind of music has influenced your music?
I think when I, first of all I have a brother who became Dj Nemani, so I was
listening to hip-hop when I was a little kid probably before I started
really enjoying it by myself. I would say when I really started getting more
into it myself was probably the early 90s. EPMD and Redman and Tribe Called
Quest, and De La Soul. I would say the early 90s and mid 90s was my
favorite time in hip-hop and now theres a lot Mos Def , Pharoah Monch ,
Organized Confusion, Talib , Common , Outkast still have some of that
essence from the 90s. I think what I really liked about the music when I
started getting into was a lot of the old samples. Jazz and soul and I was
feeling that. Although it got a lot of people in trouble I loved that music
so its nice. Although now everybody knows about samples and a lot of people
are trying not to lose too much money and now I feel like theres a lot of
good music in hip-hop that is going on right now just because live music is
getting big again. I love stuff that knocks and its nice when I can slow
down and listen to what they are saying and still appreciate it. It’s a lot
of hip-hop that I like but I don’t want to listen to sometimes because I
don’t want to hear what they are saying. I think that its easy to become
decent and I feel like its so male driven. Its cool when what people are
saying and the music is beautiful and I think a good example for me would be
Breathe In Breathe Out. Its interesting for me because when I first started
performing. First it was acapella. Singing sweet honey in a rock I don’t
know if you heard of that group. Then since my brother was a DJ started.
First thing I started going ouit to hip-hop events and started seeing over
the tighest hip-hop instrumental with my own words. Then later on started
writing more songs and working with a band which now I work with a band but
it was kind of a step by step process. Even closer I feel like it’s a pretty
large mix of live music and tracks and some of it its definitely hip-hop
influence some of it is more straight hip-hop and some it is more R&B and
What do you enjoy most about the live performance aspect?
I enjoy just actually getting to sing the songs live off the album sometimes
in different versions or just switching up something here and there. It’s
the funnest when people are getting in the music and I can even expand to
more than what they have already heard. I just love the exchange when
people are right there. There can be a lot of energy at a live show and I
love singing at concerts . I think its really dynamic. Its certain parts
that are mellow and certain parts that are higher and its just nicer to be
able to interpret the music live Its different than just listening to the
album. Its just different to be right there and be able to build on the
energy and make it more personal.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Well I mean right now Im just really trying to get the Even Closer album out
there . Its out there nationally but just performing more outside of the
West coast. That’s what we been more focusing on. I just look forward to
doing more stuff in the East and South and other spots and also get the
music out there internationally which is something that were working on.