Originally published in Beat Magazine.
Soul Safari are a confident bunch. They’re about to release their new single The Weather and they are pretty damn proud of it. And so they should be – it’s fucking good. Boasting an impressive octet– led by the soul-drenched powerhouse vocals of Lisa Faithfull, these guys are doing everything they can to get their presence known and their music heard across Melbourne.
“It’s been a crazy week!” Taking a break from rehearsal, Faithfull and some of the boys took some time to discuss their new single and its anticipated launch party. Faithfull’s enthusiasm was tangible over the line, “We are really excited to release it. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been recording the song since about May this year, so we’ve been in the studio, just sitting on it, waiting and waiting and waiting.” Even though the band have been playing together – not the same line-up – for five years, Soul Safari have only just found their niche and their new single The Weather personifies this re-defined sound, a sound which owes its influence to the likes of Badu, The Roots and The RH Factor.
The Weather tackles the universal struggle of balancing work and creativity, of pushing through the storm of routine in order to support creative pursuits. Faithfull elaborates, “I was sitting one night after work – cause I’d been working at a cafe at the time – and I’d worked all day and when I got home, my partner was in bed and the house was silent and I just sat there thinking ‘there’s this thing that you’re so passionate about but it’s quite a lonely thing, because when we’re creating, most of the world is asleep.’ You wonder if all the other musicians, artists and other creatives are feeling this way, you know, you work a normal job to make ends meet and then most of the money you earn from your normal job, you invest back into the passion you have. The bridge section is ‘dying to be alive’ and I sat there thinking ‘we literally kill ourselves to make ends meet.’ It’s a bit of an irony I guess, you have all these passions for something and you will kill yourself to get it, but at the end of the day you’re sitting there alone and no one may ever hear your music.”
An incredibly moving soul ballad, Faithfull is not shy in stating that it may be their best song yet. It’s honest, raw and universal; an ode to all those people who kill themselves every day to make ends meet. “We want people to connect with the song. People aren’t alone – whether you’re creatives or whether you’re someone working in a factory – you’re working your ass off and at the end of the day you get home and you’re questioning why you’re doing it. We just want people to be able to play this song and go ‘we’re not alone.’ It’s almost like an anthem for people who are trying to get by and trying to be noticed.”
In the months leading up to the release of their single, Soul Safari decided to shoot the music video in the Flinders street underpass, an event which coincidentally complemented the theme of the track. “We decided to film it there obviously because the song’s got that urban kind of feel. We also thought, ‘what better way to capture it than having business people walking past, kids on skateboards, etc.’ I’m singing like I would on stage and people didn’t even double back. I felt that everyone was going to stare and it was going to be really awkward, but it’s almost like they were so busy going about their day that even the things in front of them didn’t make them stop.
“One of the boys who did vocals in the male part of the song was dressed as a homeless person and we sat him in the spot with a sign that read WE WILL SING FOR FOOD. And the whole day, we were completely ignored, except for this one man who stopped and said to him ‘mate, I’ve got a bag of chocolate coated almonds you can have if you’re hungry’ and the guy sitting goes ‘oh nah mate, we’re filming a video, but thank you so much!’ The shoot proved to be an interesting little sociological experiment for the band and a complimentary visual for many of the ideas inherent within the song. “We wanted to capture that feeling of almost feeling senseless in the crowd,” Faithfull explains. With only one person acknowledging them, this feeling was more than manifested; as like many people out there, their art was mostly ignored and unappreciated.
On a more positive note, the upcoming single launch party is hardly something to disregard. Dominating the Espy’s Gershwin room will be Soul Safari and their stellar guests, which include funk queen Kylie Auldist, Cookin’ On 3 Burners and LABJACD, a mammoth outfit which will include 15 musicians, “a real hit you in the face set,” Faithfull enthuses.
“This one is going to be big. From start to finish we’re going to have people dancing. There’s going to be giveaways, like merchandise and promo cause we’re getting sponsored by some awesome companies. We’re going to have a walk of fame at the entrance, so when everyone comes in they can have their photos snapped and it will go up on our website. We just want everyone to leave the event going ‘Holy shit! That was the best line-up we’ve seen in Melbourne in a really long time.’ We want to show that live music and our style of music in particular in Melbourne is very much alive.”
Soul Safari are incredibly grateful to the artists joining them on stage and Faithfull is more than appreciative about this, “We feel so blessed to have them on board with us. As a band we’ve done some work with Cookin’ On 3 Burners’ drummer, Ivan. They’re awesome! I’ve done some work with Kylie through PBS. They did a Women of Soul series and I was on the line-up with Kylie. She’s someone we’ve respected for so long. Ivan gave her a call and she said she’d be happy to come along and have a sing. Having her as part of the show is such a blessing.”
Soul Safari’s humility is overwhelming and their unconditional love and belief in their music is inspiring. Their music is a movement, an image of perseverance and hope for all those artists out there struggling to share their voice.
Check out Melbourne’s neo-soul heavyweights SOUL SAFARI when they play the Gershwin room at the Espy on Saturday November 2. Joining them will be Kylie Auldist, Cookin’ On 3 Burners, LABJACD, plus DJ Vince Peach and DJ Mz Rizk.