It’s been over a year since Sampa The Great’s last release, Birds And The BEE9, swept across the world, blurring the lines between hip-hop, soul and gospel, and earning herself the 2018 Australian Music Prize.
This week Sampa Tembo, 26, releases her debut album The Return to a much-awaiting audience. The album’s second single, Final Form, received over 2.1 million views on YouTube and was the #1 played track on triple j for the week of release.
The Return comes with a fresh 11-date Australian tour, followed by a final national appearance at The Lost Lands Festival at the Werribee Mansion. With an array of shows looming, Sampa is ready to drop new music.
“I’m excited,” she says. “It was a wave of emotions a few weeks before, but now it’s like I’ve listened to this album so many times. It’s like ‘Please can you just take it!’. I’m excited for people to hear it.”
With two mixtapes, an EP, and now an album under her belt, Sampa has an extensive catalogue of songs to build her latest setlist from. Despite this, developing the set for this tour hasn’t been difficult, she revealed. “There are songs that really fall in line with what we’re trying to say throughout this album and also new types of songs and genres that I haven’t done before that will be exciting to bring to the table.”
“There’s a whole new story and a whole new mode of story-telling. I’m not going to limit to just rapping, there will also be poetry, a lot of things will be sung as well, and just delving into the different forms of expression that I haven’t before. It’s definitely going to be a different sort of experience.”
Sampa is set to take to The Lost Stage on Day 2 of The Lost Lands Festival 2019, among names like Baker Boy and Vika & Linda Bull. The family-friendly festival runs 1-3 November this year at the Werribee Mansion, now entering its fourth year. Festivals like this aren’t unknown territory for her though.
“I have been to festivals that are centered around families, I love festivals like that. I wish I had been taken to a festival like that. It’s very beautiful to see things that are family-oriented, and you can experience the music together as a family.”
“I definitely will need to edit some words out from the set,” she laughed. “It’s always a beauty to see children at festivals and to be able to connect music-wise and teach. I’m really excited about that.
“It’s beautiful to be a part of this process for them,” Sampa expanded. “Maybe they’ll see something that’ll make them say ‘Aw man, I wanna play the guitar’ or ‘I wanna sing’, ‘I wanna rap’, and to be part of that inspiration is something really important and exciting, so I’m excited to perform there.”
Audiences won’t be the only ones inspired, as Sampa finds as much joy in watching others perform at festivals as she does when performing herself. “I love festivals for being surprised by acts you didn’t know and walking to a different set and a different world, and being educated by other people’s music.”
“I haven’t really delved into the line-up, so I’d be unsure to say anything. I do know Baker Boy will be there, I think, and Alice [Skye]. I’m definitely one who will just walk into a different set that I’ve never seen and be like “Woah, this is amazing!”. I love that about festivals.”
Sampa wrapped up by summarising her upcoming Lost Land’s set with three words: “Excitement. Expression. Wholesomeness.”
The Lost Lands returns to the magnificent gardens of the Werribee Mansion Melbourne Cup Weekend on 1-3 November 2019. Tickets are available through www.thelostlands.com.au
Release: The Return is out Friday, September 13
Written by Thom Devereux
Photo by Barun Chatterjee