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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Interview with Safia

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Safia at the Beach Hotel

Safia

Beach Hotel Byron Bay  |  Friday   | 8–11pm  |  $55.94

Ben Woolner, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers met at primary school. Drawn together at the end of year six by what Ben calls a connection over their shared love of 80s rock’n’roll, the Canberra band continue their bold vision and attention to detail, and of course their not-so-secret love of 80s rock.

SAFIA have just released their highly anticipated sophomore album Story’s Start or End in early August, with current single Resolution finding its way onto playlists around the country.

When it comes to songwriting, the long established friendships really assist the collaborative process. ‘We tend to bring an idea to the table,’ says Ben, ‘and then we build it from there – whether it be a melody or a chord progression, or a sound, a rhythm, or the bare bones of a track that is starting to have a vibe, we tend to have a good ability to hear something, and then we keep working on it bit by bit…’

While the band have claimed hearts around the country, they’re Canberra boys and there’s no plan to move in the near future. Ben believes the power of the internet has meant there’s no longer this expectation that to make it as a band you have to be in Melbourne or Sydney.

‘We were pretty lucky with timing’ says Ben. ‘When we started out, the internet was still in its infancy – but we started basically uploading to Triple J Unearthed, we didn’t think too much, and then after a few months they played one of the early, early songs when we were just doing it for fun and it got moving – we said oh there might be something here – and started playing shows around town. It grew slowly from there.’

Ben is very modest, he doesn’t really talk up why SAFIA are one of the hottest acts in the country right now. In the past year, SAFIA have made a celebrated return to Splendour in the Grass, and graced festival stages including Beyond the Valley, Origin Fields, This That, The Grass is Greener, The Drop and a headline slot at Corona Sunsets. They also completed a sold-out run of limited capacity shows down the east coast of Australia and played to adoring crowds in China twice.

With a roll-call of accolades that would make anyone feel proud, SAFIA’s debut album Internal was released in 2016 and landed at #2 on the ARIA Album chart, #1 on the iTunes chart, received ARIA and J Award nominations and saw the band achieve two Gold certified singles in Australia with Make Them Wheels Roll and Embracing Me . They also completed a sold-out run of national album shows. They have accumulated over 140 million streams, not taking into account their collaborations with Peking Duk and Alison Wonderland.

These latest shows are sure to be something special with the band curating a more theatrical experience for their performances. ‘We want our shows to be a show that’s not just a band walking on stage. The music is quite theatrical already, so we want to accentuate that. We want this to be more like a theatre piece.’

‘For this tour, the stage is a 4-tiered setup with a runway at the back and three split screens which we interact with at times, and these amazing lighting arrangements. It’s all about how we pace the show – it’s a 90-minute show and we change stage setup regularly. Michael, who is on drums, is a great guitarist and pianist, so is Harry, we often change stage setups throughout the gig. We bring the crowd with us – there are continuing motifs from last time.’

Wow – sounds like SAFIA fans are in for one hell of a big show. Supported by their buddies Boo Seeker, you can catch them at the Beach Hotel in Byron on Friday from 8pm.  Tix $55.94 at eventbrite.com.au 

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