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It may be a few weeks since Splendour in the Grass, but with a set like SAFIA had you’d easily be reliving it for weeks, even years, and that’s just what Ben Woolner and the boys have been doing.
“There were so many people singing our lyrics back and spilling out the back of the tent into the horizon and we couldn’t really see because of the sun – but it was crazy,” Ben says.
“To think that we started writing our songs two years ago and then to see that, it’s such a shock. It’s all a bit surreal.”
That’s just what’s so incredible about SAFIA, that they’ve managed to lock into something incredible and it’s hasn’t been a forced process at all.
“I wasn’t by myself for very long, Michael [Bell] and I were in a rock band and then we started dabbling into electronic production and we were trying to make big dance tunes for fun, they were kind of funny but I actually still kind of like them,” he says laughing.
“Then I had this other idea of going solo, which I was doing for a while, and it was kind of acoustic, kind of folky. Then I needed to do a gig somewhere and I was like, ‘Ah, I kind of don’t want to do this’.
“So we just started with this gig together, then started writing some songs and putting stuff together and it was actually really cool. Then somehow the other sonic production dance stuff that we were doing ended up melding into the live performances.”
Given their friendship and relationship prior to starting SAFIA, the chemistry on stage with Ben, Michael and Harry Sayers was seamless: the kind of show and vibe that you simply don’t get in a solo performance.
“I love when I see a band and they’ve obviously been a band for a long time and they’re just a unit. When you see that on stage there’s something really special and sometimes it’s really hard to have that same effect as a solo artist,” he says.
The connection is obvious on stage, as the thousands of punters witnessed at Splendour in the Grass and as many more will witness in their ‘Embracing Me’ national tour. Though the bond between the band members stems much further than just on stage, and it flows through to their work with video production team Crux.
“Those guys kind of contacted us when we were looking for our first film clip and they were looking to do their first music clip because they’d never done one before,” Ben says.
“It was perfect timing so we met up with the boys and got on really really well. They’re exactly like us but instead of their focus being music, it’s video. We have a unique relationship now, because we hang out as well, and they usually hear the songs as they’re getting written or early in the stages and they know the song quite well.
“Rather than what is usually done when the song is finished and the is sent out to directors and they send their best idea back, they have a deeper connection with the song because they’ve been hearing it for so long and they’ve become part of the process. They’re intertwined with the song and that shows in the video.”
The single is the driving force behind the national tour, and with three Melbourne shows already sold out (with a fourth and final added) the chances to see them perform live are quickly dwindling. With a bond on stage like few bands around, SAFIA are one you’re going to want to see.
Written by Amanda Sherring
When & Where: Karova Lounge, Ballarat – August 20, Bended Elbow, Geelong – August 21 & Corner Hotel, Melbourne – August 25