Aloe Blacc: the accountant who became a music star

Cool, stylish and hugely talented, there’s more to the I Need A Dollar singer than meets the eye.

Matthew Priest June 10, 2014

Eureka moment

I used to work for the accountancy firm Ernst & Young. During my first year all of the new employees had to do an initiation talent show. You could read a poem; do a dance; paint a painting etc. I chose to sing one of my own songs.

After I finished, I had brought my colleagues to a standing ovation and a few of them to tears. One of my bosses joked to me saying ‘I think you’re in the wrong business!’ It turns out that he was right.

Travel studies

The success of I Need A Dollar exposed me to a worldwide audience. One of the things I love the most is seeing how people in different countries interact with my music. I am interested in sociology and so I like to notice the differences. When I was at university I wanted to write my thesis on looking at the numerous ways people listen to and interpret music, but I ended up doing something else – but now I get to do the study first hand anyway! The best part about it is that I can give myself an A.

Looking sharp

I think that it is important to make an effort with my appearance and look good. As a black male from the US, TV and films generally like to stick with an image and a stereotype about us, and I want to be able to suggest otherwise. I think that looking good suggests that you have something different about you. That is why I dress with class.

Like clockwork

When it comes to music, I like to focus heavily on creating the best quality product that I can. That is at the very core of my relationship with watchmakers IWC – it’s a mutually held belief to take extra care of the product that we create. None of the musicians I hire will ever allow their names to be associated with terrible music. It’s really a case of quality control from the beginning. The same is true for the precise work that is done by the dozens of people make each individual IWC timepiece.

High standards

There are so many songs I hear that I wish I’d written. It could be Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, or Cat Steven’s Father and Son, or Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror – so many of them. These are the songs that keep me on my toes – the ones that have stood the test of time. Those are the artists that I look up to and I want to try and achieve the same level of greatness.

I have two ambitions. One is to inducted into the songwriter’s hall of fame and the other is to match or exceed Michael Jackson’s charitable giving – so with those two goals, I’ve got my work cut out!

Modern man

Honesty is the most important virtue. With honesty, people can take you at face value. It seems that the hardest thing for a man is for him to be honest with himself. There are a lot of compromises that we make for our work or our lives, and I’m not sure that it is a good thing. The more honest we can be to ourselves, then the more we can actually look at finding the real answers to the conflicts in our lives. Details: Aloe Blacc is a Friend of IWC Schaffhausen. For more visit: