While their 2016 debut ‘Internal’ brought them success in the ARIA charts, reaching number 2, nominations for both the ARIAs and the J Awards, and two ARIA certified gold singles, SAFIA’s sophomore album, ‘Story’s Start or End’, is the piece that will define the group.
Recognised as more of an album than its predecessor, ‘Story’s Start or End’ is a piece of deep reflection, internal dialogue, and cathartic creative and personal exploration, cleverly crafted as an eleven-track journey of inner growth in the disguise of a breakup album.
“This album is a conflict of perspective within myself lyrically and it follows that journey of the past two and bit years and by the end of the album it kind of gets to a point of realisation in its essence, and of letting go and this acknowledgement of trying to not be everything and be a better individual and have room for growth,” frontman Ben Woolner explains.
“It feels like a breakup album on the surface but really it’s in a dialogue with myself, and trying to let go of maybe the most negative part of myself and I think it’s just the integral life lessons and truth that come with growing up. I think early on in the songs I used to be quite egotistical, and you know I was very driven in music but it was kind of music at all costs.
“I wanted this big artistic, thought-provoking insightful thing and I just wasn’t ready to be able to honestly convey those messages and I wasn’t ready to be able to talk about things beyond myself if I wasn’t able to address things within myself to begin with.”
While deep insights and big realisations form the lyrical content, Woolner, and co. exercised a great level of restraint on the songwriting and musical arrangements, taking the ‘less is more’ minimalist approach.
“There comes experience and a level of confidence with time. With this stuff and in our writing there is a lot more restraint which I think comes with age and a bit more maturity,” Woolner says.
While they have scaled back the larger than life theatrics, the SAFIA light and shade dynamics of introspective moments contrasted with explosive builds still exists on a galactic scale. SAFIA paints an extraterrestrial universe of colour with ‘Story’s Start Or End’, with spacey synths and humming razor lights perfectly suited to soundtrack Stranger Things, season three.
“We’re huge sci-fi fans so that definitely creeps in and we’re also massive fans of film so for us when we write a song, the thing that grabs all of us is a sound that can transport us somewhere. I think it kind of manifested itself naturally but there is something very appealing about that 80’s sci-fi sound. It is very transportable.”
SAFIA have set the benchmark for albums to come with Story’s Start or End, but the Canberra boys feel like this is just the preface for the real narrative of SAFIA to begin.
“I feel like by the end of the record, it’s kind of like, okay, now we’re in a place to really write the music that maybe we were wanting to be writing from when we started the project, but we maybe weren’t mature enough or capable enough of doing in that point of time,” Woolner admits.
“Hopefully we can build upon it but it’s been really fun and it’s given us space to write the music we want to write now as well, I think it’s a very important record for us creatively. Hopefully it kind of sets the platform where we can really explore the depth of our madness [laughs].”
Story’s Start or End is out now and has been partnered with a national tour with special guests Boo Seeker and Eilish Gilligan this September. Tickets at tix.to/SafiaTour
Written by Tammy Walters