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Interview - SAFIA at Stranded - acid stag

Interview: SAFIA at Stranded, September 2014

Words by Corey Brown.

Ben and Michael from SAFIA took a moment to hang with us in the shade at Stranded a couple of weeks ago. The three-piece have taken over the Australian indie scene over the past year with huge hits ‘Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues’ and ‘Paranoia Ghosts and Other Sounds’. They are currently dishing out their latest, ‘You Are the One’ on stages around the country.

You guys killed it at your BIGSOUND shows, ‘Listen to Soul’ goes off at the end of your set.
Ben: Thanks mate! We’ve actually decided to move that one to the middle of our sets now.

With such an intricate live setup, do you find it hard to make sure everything in your set is like clockwork?
Ben: I don’t think so, we’ve got it pretty sorted now. We’ve been playing together for almost 2 years so we feel like we’re on top of it all. Although we are forever changing our set.

Were you guys in any other bands before SAFIA?
Ben: Yeah we were in other bands, not electronic though. We actually started off in rock bands before getting into the production side of it.

How did the electronic side come in?
Michael: We just started fucking around with it really.

Was it someone in particular that influenced you?
Michael: Haha, Skrillex!
Ben: Yeah Skrillex, when he first started. When ‘Scary Monsters’ came out, I was like “this shit’s really cool”. The guy is his own thing – he’s not following trends, he’s creating them!
Michael: I don’t care what anyone fucking says, Skrillex is the best. He’s arguably one of the biggest names in electronic music.
Ben: Yeah, there’s a reason why people are among the biggest artists in the world.

Are you guys doing anything different on this tour that separates it from the others?
Ben: Well we have a bunch of new tracks and we’re playing with new big cinematic things…you probably won’t see it at this show because it’ll be at sunset, but we’re bringing in a light show, visuals and some other fun shit like that. Kind of taking the whole production element up a level.

So you’ve got a big team with you on the road?
Ben: Yeah. There’s us plus our sound guy, and for the Sydney and Melbourne shows we’ve got a lighting designer as well
Michael: Yeah, we’re definitely growing.

You’ve got so much happening in Australia, when are you going to spread the seed far and wide?
Ben: Well, we’ve done a lot of touring this year in Australia and we are headng to America in October. The plan for next year is to focus mainly on the UK and Europe, and we’ll be writing an album. So there’ll be a big focus on building the story over in the UK and Europe now.

When you’re writing an album, who tends to take care of the sound design aspect?
Ben: We all do really, it’s fairly collaborative. There are different processes and sometimes Michael will write the song and I’ll sing over it, sometimes I might write a melody and we go in together and produce it.

Being in the middle of electronic and indie sounds, is there a way you more comfortably swing in terms of writing?
Ben: It all depends on the song, it’s all about the song.
Michael: Forget about genre.
Ben: Yeah we don’t really care. We just write. We don’t really have a sound or genre in mind, and it’s different every time. In our writing process, there’s something in there that makes it carry the same sort of sound, like the next song might be an acoustic song. Who knows!

Have you got an acoustic song on the way?
Michael: Barbershop [laughs]
Ben: Barbershopstep [laughs]

I’ll leave you with this one – you’re given one week to write a concept album; what is it about?
Ben: Hmm. Ewoks.
Michael: and salad.
Ben: Ewoks eating salad.
Michael: Ewoks eating salad in a tree.
Ben: It’s like a jungle salad vegetarian party and you’ve got to convey that on an album, using only salad samples.
Michael: Like the sound of someone tossing a salad.
Michael: Actually, vegetables have got a great crunch, if you just find a nice firm one.
Ben: I think the albums just going to be all vegetables. It’s going to be ‘Safia Vegetarian Album’

There you have it folks, you read it here first.

SAFIA do have one more show up their sleeve over in Perth at the end of the month before they jet-off to the USA to flaunt their tunes far and wide.

We’ll leave you with their latest single, ‘You Are the One’ | |

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