OUR DECADE’S JAY DEE

KNX

Uncut version; originally published in Beat Magazine and The Brag

When I told Knxwledge that he was our decade’s J Dilla, he didn’t quite know what to say. It got a little awkward while I waited for a response. “That is a crazy statement,” he choked out finally. But is it really that unfathomable a comparison? Like Dilla, Knx lives and breathes hip-hop — making countless beats a week (According to Flylo, Knx “makes a million tracks a day, it’s insane, keep up if you can”) and producing for the illest cats in the game. Both are also key members of the Stones Throw family. Even after Dilla’s passing in 2006, posthumous releases were still brought out though the label. Both are incredibly prolific — Knx’s bandcamp discography is evidence alone. Since 2009 he’s released 70+ mixtapes, albums and EPs. Dilla and Knx a “crazy” comparison? I don’t think so…

The LA beat scene is a rabbit hole. As a listener, just when you think you know the game, you fall headfirst into a brighter and richer soundscape. Unlike Alice though, you don’t reach the bottom. There’s no end — you keep falling and falling. It’s brilliant.

Glen Boothe (aka Knx) is an invaluable player in that bottomless Wonderland. Fusing hip-hop, soul and jazz Knx provides the perfect soundtrack for those late night feeds and early morning car rides. Put simply — his music is very cool and very west coast. It puts you in a good mood.

Like Knx’s music, the “LA” sound is equally epitomised through the iconic label Stones Throw, founded in 1996 by Peanut Butter Wolf. The label has played host to a bunch of key hip-hop records, including Dilla’s Donuts, Madvillian’s (Madlib and MF Doom) Madvilliany and Quasimoto’s The Unseen. After Knx made the move from Philly to LA in 2009, it didn’t take long for Wolf to snatch him up.

“I was playing a Boiler Room session. Wolf came up to me while I was playing a Charizma remix and we had a meeting a few days after that. I’d met him back in Philly when I lived there a few times. We’re family now. Wolf is an incredible human being,” Knx says.

“With Stones Throw — I can do whatever I want. I can release whatever I want. It’s also an incredible thing to be a part of a label that is all about vinyl. If you make something that’s sufficient enough it’s going straight to wax,” he adds.

I tend to agree. There’s something really special about vinyl and it only makes sense that a strong hip-hop, soul and jazz label like Stones Throw would be adamant about offering their releases on a vintage medium.

Raised in New Jersey, Knx’s relationship with music was very accessible. Not only was his house full of instruments, but the church he belonged to was a goldmine as well, stocked with an array of instruments that he would eventually inherit.

“My parents used to clean the church that I was a part of, so every Saturday I’d go and clean the church with them and play the instruments — I could pretty much be alone with all of the instruments.  They got a lot (instruments) over time and that’s how I built my foundation for musical appreciation.”

After establishing skills on a bunch of instruments Knx turned to production and sampling — he even used to record snippets of church sermons to tape and then loop them. “I was always trying to record. I was playing everything from scratch. In the beginning everything was primarily keys and drum-based. I bought a Roland SP-303 — that was my first piece of hardware I could get my hands on. I wasn’t able to have a computer yet,” Knx explains. The portable 303 was also a favourite of Dilla’s…

Before moving to LA Knx lived briefly in Philly, where he attended university and continued working on his music. It was in Philly where he met his good friend and current label mate Ringgo Ancheta (Mndsgn). Still collaborating today, the two quickly began working together.

It was at a show at San Diego University where Knx got his first taste of the LA music scene. “Halfway through college I was booked for a show (in LA). It was me, DJ House Shoes, The Gaslamp Killer, Samiyam and Danny Brown.” After that, Knx couldn’t stay away — “I had to move for the music.”

2009-2015 has been fruitful to say the least. An impressive discography and numerous production credits has awarded Knx ubiquity on the west coast. A recent collaboration with crooner Anderson Paak is scheduled for manifestation any day now. The two made contact online after Knx did a remix of one of Paak’s accapella tracks a few years ago. They have already released “Suede,” a very sexy single that fuses Knx’s smooth mellow production with Paak’s suave vocals. The duo are called NxWorries and are in the middle of tying up some loose ends on their forthcoming full-length. “It’s gonna be a good one. I’m just getting the artwork done and we’ve just done a video for ‘Suede’. It’s coming out soon,” Knx promises.

Speaking of collaborations, isn’t it about time I mentioned the Knx/Kendrick relationship? So, last year Kenny was chilling in a car with the renowned photographer and filmmaker Eric Coleman, doing a cover shoot for Complex Magazine. Knx’s Anthology tape was in the cassette player. The instrumental track “so[rt]” came on and Kenny thought it was dope. “He (Kendrick) texted me immediately and it was on,” Knx explains. Kenny put some vocals over the top of it and called it “Momma.” It’s the ninth track on To Pimp A Butterfly.

While Knx explains that the rest of 2015 will undoubtedly see even more collaborations and mixtapes, the producer is also gearing up for an Australian tour. Apart from playing the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, he’ll also be doing a run of national shows.

So how does such a prolific producer with such a huge back catalogue decide what to play in a single set? “That’s a good question. I actually don’t ever plan anything when I play. It’s kind of weird, but less stressful that way. I just like mixing it up and playing whatever. I’ll either drag something in or I’ll just stop everything and ask somebody in the crowd what they want me to play. My computer is full of songs — I’ll just play whatever.”

By Dina Amin

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GIRLS PUSHED FORWARD ON NEW WEBSITE

By Dina Amin

Celebrating Australian women in the music industry, One of One is a brand new website uncovering the lives of the various women that have a positive impact on the industry. Created by Sarah Hamilton (Ditto Music), Joanna Cameron (AIR) and Vader Fame (Ditto, Deathproof PR), One of One went online only days before International Women’s Day, an outcome that was hardly coincidental.

“We’ve been working on this for a few months now and wanted to push it out in time for International Women’s Day, to time in with some other things that were happening — great initiatives like #girlstothefront from triple J etc,” enthuses Hamilton. The idea behind One of One came from a mutual desire to see hardworking, female music industry figures celebrated and validated. “We wanted to find out more about women that we admired…women who might not always push themselves forward…challenges they may have overcome, advice they had to give, that sort of thing,” explains Hamilton.

Following a Q&A style template, the One of One website is accessible, stimulating and informative. Q&As are published every couple of days, featuring powerful pull quotes and relevant links and multimedia. Each interviewee is asked several questions directed towards their role, responsibilities, background, role models and go-to karaoke songs. The interviews are light, yet relevant and educational, specifically to readers contemplating moving into a particular facet of the music industry.

Although acknowledging the ubiquity of Q&A style interviews in both print and digital journalism, Hamilton points out that One of One is quite unique in its angle.  “We haven’t seen this sort of weekly roll-out of women in the music industry yet — or if it has been done already we haven’t seen it.” A project sustained during leisurely hours – all three girls work full-time in the industry – One of One features influential women across all spectres of the music industry: audio engineers, publicists, artists, record label operators, managers, booking agents, etc.

“We want readers to be inspired. As cheesy as that may sound; that’s the real motive. To learn about women who are doing interesting things and really doing well in their positions, so other people (not just women) can realise that their career path is possible,” says Hamilton.

One of One is open to the public in that people can contact Hamilton, Cameron and Fame and nominate females for interview consideration. Although One of One only interviews women, Hamilton is quick to point out that the conversation is also open to men. “So many men have nominated their colleagues, or emailed us to congratulate us on the site…we want One of One to be accessible to all genders and we’ve been so thrilled with the response — from both men and women.”

Although focused currently on Australian women, One of One is definitely open to the possibility of featuring international women — a future angle that might also encourage exposure of women across all spectres of the arts world. The enthusiastic Hamilton feels incredibly positive about One of One’s trajectory — “there are a lot of women out there to uncover.”

For more info on One of One and the nomination process, head here

BAYSIDE COUNCIL WANT YOU TO STAY AWHILE…

By Dina Amin

Bayside mayor Felicity Frederico

Bayside mayor Felicity Frederico

Bayside City Council have recently developed a new initiative to help activate the Brighton Cultural Precinct — an area in Brighton which boasts several arts and culture services. In an effort to encourage patrons and residents of the area to stay awhile, the Council has put forth a new hospitality initiative — a cafe that will operate within the former Brighton courthouse.

“There’s a very strong push in Bayside that we get much stronger utilisation out of our buildings…we had a building (the courthouse) that wasn’t being very well utilised and it was really on us to find a purpose for it,” explains Bayside Council mayor Felicity Frederico.

The Brighton Cultural Precinct was established roughly 10 years ago as a means of involving the community in various arts and cultural activities. The precinct consists of the Brighton Town Hall – which holds the Brighton Historical Society, the BACC gallery and the Brighton Theatre Company – the Brighton library and the former courthouse.

“We wanted a different numbers of arts and cultural offerings in the same place…to provide lots of opportunities for residents to enjoy various different kinds of activities — they can connect with different groups and organisations,” adds Mark Patterson, the Council’s Family and Cultural Services Manager.

The cafe initiative supports the Council’s objective to increase visitation to the Brighton Cultural Precinct. “There’s really no hospitality in that Precinct. If you go up Wilson street there’s the old milk bar which is becoming a small cafe, but apart from that there’s nothing else,” says Frederico.

Frederico predicts that the cafe would be frequented predominantly by the parents of local schools Firbank, Brighton Grammar and Brighton Primary School. Both Frederico and Patterson agree that the cafe could also be a rest stop for people spending a morning or afternoon in the Precinct.

The cafe initiative was only one idea of utilisation that came from a recent updated report. The 2015 Brighton Cultural Precinct report identifies a number of strategies which could be implemented to encourage increased visitation — the cafe being one of them.

“The report was really looking at how to improve the utilisation of the Brighton Cultural Precinct and also improve the activation — by activation we mean people spending time in the Precinct rather than just coming to the Library and then leaving without doing anything else in the area,” Patterson explains. The report was born out of various internal conversations with stakeholders and partners.

Another strategy that came from the report was the implementation of appropriate signage.

“Pedestrian signs could be improved — it can be difficult to understand what’s located where and it can be difficult to navigate one’s way around the Precinct,” says Patterson.

“If the cafe idea didn’t work out we would certainly look at utilisation of that building (former courthouse) in some shape or form, as long as it was keeping within the theme of the Precinct,” states Frederico.

Frederico also stresses the importance of remaining sympathetic to the community. “It won’t be a cafe with loud music until 2am — it will be respectful of its environment.”

The development of the cafe is still yet to come;  an expression of interest has gone out and community consultation will commence in April.

Keep up to date with Bayside City Council news here

NO MORE WAITING BY THE PHONE

Indya Connley

An interview with Uncomfortable Beats’ founder Able8

Originally published in Melbourne Guru; photography by Indya Connley

Imagine the number of music submissions a popular street press would receive weekly. Imagine the number of pitches a major record label would receive daily. Imagine if both the street press and the label responded to every single submission and pitch with feedback and suggestions. Impossible. There would be too many to listen to, let alone reply to. In an era where niche labels and blogs are abundant, it’s much easier to develop a rich two-way relationship with a smaller, specialised support business.

Melbourne’s Uncomfortable Beats are that niche label. Formed in mid 2010, the label has been responsible for releasing obscure electronic and hip-hop unsigned-artist driven compilations, EPs and albums. The label’s director Dave Di Paolo – better known as Able8 – will try and respond to every single artist submission. Not only will he do his best to reply, but he will provide feedback to both the successful and unsuccessful applicants. The themed and specialised compilations enable this personalised interaction; a service that is quite unrealistic in mass music-driven support businesses.

Originally a Perth-based MC and events curator, Di Paolo moved to Melbourne in 2009 and began producing. Still keen on curating, Di Paolo formed Uncomfortable Beats in 2010 and began throwing weekly and monthly beat nights at venues like Bar Open, Black Cat and Section 8. The events were a chance for Di Paolo and his friends to showcase their passion for left-field electronic and hip-hop production.

“I think beat makers, producers and DJs are drawn to Melbourne because diverse music is more well-received here. People appreciate the deeper side to music more. A lot more ears are open to diversity and there are a lot of venues that cater for edgy music.”

Rather than limiting Uncomfortable Beats to event management, Di Paolo decided to launch a niche label that would help to expose left of centre beat makers that weren’t being heard. The last release – the seventh compilation from Uncomfortable Beats ­– featured several Melbourne beat makers alongside various global artists. Each compilation has a theme with the seventh leaning towards jazzy influenced hip-hop and electronica. Prior to the forthcoming release Di Paolo will encourage artists – via social and online media promotion – to submit a track that complies with the compilation’s particular theme. Past themes have included boom bap, grime, future hip-hop and ambient electronica.

The last compilation – Natural Selections – had little over 60 submissions and only 20 or so were selected. “The successful track has to fit somewhere within the theme of the compilation. Secondly, it comes down to how good the mix is, because there’s often people who have really good ideas but the quality of the sound is not there. If I want them to tweak it a bit, I’ll say ‘I think this track is great but you could mix the drums a bit louder or you could adjust the bass frequencies a bit. If it’s an easy fix I’ll send that through (suggestions) and then they’ll normally re-submit one.

“When it comes down to mastering, if there’s huge inconsistencies in the mixes — it’s hard to fix. So yes if it’s an easy fix we encourage artists to go back and tweak it.”

Allowing tweaking enables these artists to get a second chance with their submissions; a generosity that wouldn’t even be considered in most call outs.

Di Paolo will go even further by often providing suggestions as to how a track could be improved.

“I tread lightly. I might say ‘I really like this song, could you think about adding this in there or removing this?’ but it’s obviously their decision if they decide to go with my suggestions.”

The advantage of receiving a smaller pool of submissions means that Di Paolo can respond and offer genuine feedback to nearly all of them.

“I have to tell a lot of people, ‘thank you for submitting but unfortunately your track didn’t make it this round.’ Sometimes I’ll keep their beats on file for future compilations if they let me. I try to contact everyone, giving them feedback as to why their track wasn’t chosen.”

After the compilation is released Di Paolo does a bunch of promotion via social media and email.

“There’s no point in making and releasing music if it’s not going to get heard. All of these artists have put effort into these songs; I feel like it’s my duty to actually try and get them heard. I’ll spend time sending the music to DJs, doing mail outs, etc.”

The Uncomfortable Beats compilations are available through various online digital stores including Spotify, iTunes, Boomkat and Bandcamp; the latter being one that Di Paolo highly recommends. “Bandcamp’s great. You can see all the stats of what tracks have been played and where those stats are coming from. The money comes directly to you. It looks good and it’s easy to find music on the website too; you can search easily through hashtags.”

The event curation side of Uncomfortable Beats comes in various weekly and monthly beat nights. At the moment Di Paolo has partnered with Blend Corp and Sinister Jazz to host Subjackt, a monthly electronic beats night at Melbourne’s Croft Institute.

Di Paolo will mostly hit up his friends for these collaborative gigs, however he is open to pitches — it all comes down to whether the music fits the vibe of the night.

The rise of niche record labels has provided a home for artists who transcend genre; obscure unsigned acts that are impossible to homogenise. A smaller roster and fewer submissions means that the label can have a richer, more genuine relationship with their artists. Uncomfortable Beats exemplifies this; offering effective and organic recording, marketing and live opportunities.

Meet…SHONA McCOY

 

shona2

 

Up and coming Melbourne rapper and pop artist Shona McCoy takes some time out to talk about her music, her love for rap and her plans for 2015.

What is it about music that you love the most?

I love how it can conjure up personal feelings in an individual. I love how it can make us dance!

Which artists dominated your playlists growing up?

Growing up my Mum listened to 50’s and 60’s Rock’n’Roll. I loved the pop music played on the radio and listened to artists such as Lauryn Hill, Usher, Beyonce, Rihanna, The Game.

Who are the biggest influences on your music today?

Today I still love pop music. I try to mould my own sound whilst keeping on top of what is being broadcast across the industry. I love to learn about new artists and how people feel about them. I also love Nicki Minaj and Azealea Banks. My family and friends are very supportive and are a great influence on my life.

Tell us a little about your style of music.

My music is mostly pop and dance with a bit of a rap/hip hop flavour blended throughout the vocals.

Tell us about the last song you wrote.

I wrote a verse for 666 Drop whilst I was sleeping. I had a pen and paper next to my bed and the next day, I completely forgot about it. I found it a few days later and sent that to my friend, Holly-J (Fox FM DJ) who started making beats for it while I continued to write.

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?

I listen to my set while I am driving around in my car so that I feel like I know it inside out. I am sure people look at me strange at the traffic lights! Before going on I just try to stay calm and take deep breaths! Not always super successful but it’s difficult to rap and sing if you run out of air!

Who would be your ideal collaborative partner?

I would love to collaborate with so many different people. Everyone has their merits. If I had to choose one today I would ask for Timbaland I think…

Where do you see yourself and your music by the end of the year?

I hope to have finished my EP and also secured a great team to work with on getting my music out there to a wider audience.

The Commonwealth Government’s Creative Industries Innovation Centre just released a study that showed that musicians are the lowest paid of all Australian creatives. How does this statement make you feel?

Like we need to start recognising our home grown talent while they’re still on our soil!

Do you think this news could potentially inhibit musicians from following their dreams?

I don’t believe that money should be a significant motivator to undertake any career. You can continue to work a ‘day job’ whilst following your dreams to a level where they support you financially.

Do you believe change rests solely on fans and listeners?

Change involves everyone. Certainly fans and listeners are a key factor however there needs to be support from all corners of the industry: radio broadcasters to producers to investors.

What has been your most memorable moment as a musician?

I did a gig down in Geelong and some girls gleefully threw Granny Panties on stage at me and my co-performer!

Let’s pretend your music is a chocolate bar. Sell it to me in a sentence.

A rich, bubbly flavour with a bouncy rush that leaves you hungry for more.

 

20 minutes with ROBERT GLASPER

Robert-Glasper-Experiment-wall-new

Originally published in Beat Magazine.

 

Tired of the same old repetitive and disposable anthems that seem to pollute contemporary black radio, the Robert Glasper Experiment utilised their background in Jazz and recruited a number of R&B vocalists and rappers to create a fusion record. This album was used as a vessel to transcend Genre and perpetuate a singular vision of black consciousness. The said vessel was titled Black Radio – referencing the indestructible black box in an airplane – and went on to win a Grammy in 2013 for best R&B album. I caught up with Robert Glasper himself for a chat about the success of Black Radio and its follow-up Black Radio 2, his Grammy win and his buddies on the east coast.

“When I lived in Texas, I didn’t really know much about hip-hop music. But when I moved to New York in ’97, I immediately met so many people. I was meeting guys like Q-Tip, Mos Def and Talib Kweli. I got to see the hip-hop movement first hand and it became a community that I was a part of.”

Robert Glasper – a trained Jazz pianist – grew up in Houston, Texas and regularly performed at Church with his mother. After moving to New York to study music at the New School University in Manhattan, he met and began collaborating with rapper Mos Def. In 2005, he signed to Blue Note Records and released several jazz albums. His first jazz-fusion record Double Booked (2007) was an innovative album split into two distinctive styles. The first half is populated by his post-bop trio, while the latter half introduces his new fusion band, the Robert Glasper Experiment. It was this quartet – Glasper on electronic keyboards, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, Mark Colenburg on acoustic and electric drums and Casey Benjamin on vocoder and sax – that enabled Glasper to pursue an investment in hip-hop that had enticed him since moving to the east coast.

“When I moved to the east coast, I got the chance to befriend and work with a lot of artists, so by the time I signed to Blue Note, one of the guys at the label told me ‘You know, you could do a record with all the people that you know’ and I was like ‘yeah, let’s wait for that.'”

Well, the wait was certainly worth it, allowing Glasper to recruit a number of talented friends he’d made since leaving Texas. Black Radio features collaborations with Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco and yasiin bey (Mos Def).

After the unprecedented success of the first Black Radio, Glasper was more than ready to make a volume 2, finding it much easier to get people on board that he wasn’t particularly acquainted with. “A lot of people on part 2 I didn’t know personally. On the first record I literally knew everyone. It was easier on the second to get people I didn’t necessarily know because we won the Grammy for the first one. They knew who I was. Cause otherwise, if you try and call up Snoop Dogg’s people they’d be like ‘What? Jazz?'”

Even though Black Radio 2 – released in October last year – featured a much wider range of vocalists (Jill Scott, Common, Snoop Dogg, Norah Jones, Patrick Stump, Faith Evans), Glasper still has a soft spot for the first volume. “It was the first one of that particular sound and I got to work with my friends. The fact that we even made it to the Grammys and then the album’s inclusion in the R&B category kicked off this whole Black Radio movement. We were representing a whole community because we weren’t doing what’s popular.”

Keeping the subject on the Grammys and although acknowledging a win as an unquestionable honour, I wanted to ask Glasper if he considered his inclusion in the R&B category as a slap in the face due to Black Radio‘s deliberate swerve away from mainstream urban music. “Not at all,” he answered to my surprise. “You always have to be in some sort of category. There’s no category for artists like me, because there aren’t many artists like me. What a lot of people don’t know about the Grammys is that the artist will always choose what category they want to be nominated in. I chose to be nominated for R&B album of the year, as opposed to Jazz album of the year.

“Most of the Jazz world didn’t really understand Black Radio. Anyway, a lot of it is not straight up Jazz, it has more of an R&B/Hip-hop sound. If you’re in the R&B category, you’re on a bigger platform, no one knows or cares about the Jazz Grammy except the Jazz community. I wanted to make this album on a bigger platform with a bigger message.”

With the message being that versatile and alternative black music is both alive and successful, it makes sense that Glasper chose the most accessible category, using it as a means of inspiring the younger generation by showing them a different shade of black music.

I asked Glasper if he’s heard his buddy Q-Tip’s new collaborative mixtape with Busta Rhymes yet. “I haven’t. However people have been texting and tweeting me asking if I’m playing piano on this one song. I’ve worked with Q-Tip for years and I’ve done a lot of stuff at his house studio wise, so I wouldn’t be surprised if  he chopped some shit I did up and put it on the record.”

 

The ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT will hit up the Forum on Friday March 7, featuring the legendary jazz-fusion icons Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith as supports. Black Radio and Black Radio 2 are available now.

20 minutes with SOUL SAFARI

soul safari for blog

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.