To paraphrase the elaborated story from the PR biography, the leading duo behind this band met over a camp fire party beside the sub-tropical forests of Australia’s Eastern coastline. If that fantastical imagery doesn’t immediately paint you a picture of how this group might sound then we may as well send you straight down to the music players below. What is particularly interesting is how this band wear their influences on their sleeves, how they take their settings and their connections and use them to drive their creativity. Somehow this band couldn’t come from any other circumstances than from those in which we find them. This is a band infused with their environment, allowing their culture to wonderfully dictate their song. Welcome to Oz, we hope that you enjoyed your flight.
Jinja Safari are a Sydney-based quartet, but once we begun to understand a little more about the band we learned that Australia is not in fact their only setting, something that is indeed hinted at with their choice of band moniker. It turns out that an interesting and rather key element to their sound also comes from Africa. Marcus Azon and Pepa Knight are the two camp fire protagonists leading the quartet, and it turns out that Azon’s grandmother comes from Uganda, or more specifically a town called Jinja. You can imagine a life full of interesting curiosities fuelling their imaginations and their sound is certainly not short on ideas or unusual facets. Seeing as this group are made up with childhood friends you would expect them to have a chemistry and an intimate understanding, and that in turn should only serve to fuel their imaginations, as they try and take the experimental folk-infused pop music in whichever direction their minds wander. With so many influences and cultures clearly involved, it seems inspiration has found the perfect band in which to stretch it’s ideas.
As is suggested by their debut single, Peter Pan, we have a song that captures the open, creative minds of a band of children intent on not growing up. Surely one of the most rewarding elements in forming a band from school friends is the ability to hold on to more of your childhood than the rest of us, as you grow up together. That playful creativity is evident in the debut song, with weird and wonderful instruments, such as sitars and a tinkering of unknown percussive toys. The vocals drift into the room like a warm breeze, often collating in higher pitched swirls to wonderful effect. Yelps and hand claps show off a band as fearless and unpretentious as a happy adventurous six year old. There’s a comfort found in so many layers, often including them as if they were duvets being wafted onto one another. You just want to dive on top. It’s no wonder that single gained lots of airplay on some of Australia’s national radio stations.
The band formed in 2010 and set about doing things with a DIY approach, self-recording and self-producing a multitude of songs. Armed with these songs they developed a raucous live show, that’s regularly seen them climb 80ft-high stage scaffolding mid-set at a variety of Australian festivals. The reputation gained them a handful of useful support slots, including sharing the stage with bands such as Menomena, Born Ruffians and The Joy Formidable. More recently they played at The Great Escape Festival, where none other than Rob Da Bank was found in the crowd, someone who has clearly been interested in the group for some time, having recently secured them to perform at his giant Bestival event this coming September. This visit to the UK was their first set of shows to an international audience, which will see them take in Toronto, New York, Montreal and Los Angeles. They’ve never released anything officially outside of Australia and so we look forward to some expected debut material, including Locked By Land, which delivers a collection of songs made up from their EPs and we’ve been informed that they’re currently working on the full debut album.
All of their tunes to date seem to form a perfect marriage of ideas and imagination. Poly-rhythmical beats and vocals guide you through their tribal collage. Melodies seem to be their currency and each tune is as rich as anything by Local Natives or Fanfarlo, engaging in the kind of warm multi-instrumentalism that we once saw with Paul Simon’s Graceland. They seem to occasionally tinker as if not sure of how to direct their ideas, but the tinkering is in fact the map that leads you to the heart of their music. What is perhaps most interesting of all is that this band not only embrace their childhoods, by removing inhibitions and encouraging creativity and experimentalism, but they also tap into the one thing that binds both youth and music. Whether deliberate or not, this band are the sound of escapism. Whether you long for the shackles of adulthood to be removed, or whether you look to music to relieve you from your own existence, one thing this band seem to have mastered is the ability to let the listener get lost with them. Sometimes it’s when we’re at our most lost that we forget all those common distractions that stress us out in the first place. Try hitting the below play buttons, close your eyes for a moment and with a little imagination you too could find yourself beside that same sub-tropical camp fire. (MB)
JINJA SAFARI – SUNKEN HOUSE
JINJA SAFARI – MUD
JINJA SAFARI – PETER PAN