Jinja Safari: The Interview

“At the moment we’re working on an album. It’s being worked on furiously and we’re all super excited about it. It’s absolutely massive for us. We’re right in the thick of it at the moment but I certainly don’t look that busy!” Joe laughs, “Right now I’m on the roof at home in the sunshine.”

Joe ‘Citizen’ Stranger is the bass player of the impossibly charming, Sydney-based indie folk outfit known as Jinja Safari. [V1] The album in question is the band’s upcoming debut full-length release, building on the popularity and sound of their two critically acclaimed EPs; Jinja Safari and Mermaids & Other Sirens. “The sound is definitely moving, as it always should be. The music is still coming from the same place and the same people, but we’re a band full of five guys who… listen to a huge variety of music ourselves and there is a lot of that coming out in our new stuff. You don’t want to do the same thing for too long but I think that the fans of the old stuff will still be pleased!”

Most beautifully striking in Jinja Safari’s musical world are the lush, vibrant landscapes of sound, fused by an awe-inspiring web of instruments both familiar and foreign. “Why the hell wouldn’t you want to muck around with loads of different instruments? There’s so much out there. It’s something that once you delve into, it opens up a huge world of opportunity and creative inspiration.”

It is an ongoing exploration of instrumentation that has practically become the band’s trademark, and this can be heard none better than on their cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” for Triple J’s Like A Version, performed on sitar,  harmonium, and numerous other instruments. “We were rattling through a lot of different songs and throwing around a lot of different ideas but nothing was standing out. And at the point of having that dead end feeling, with no more ideas, no more suggestions, being creatively naked so to speak, R. Kelly rose up out of the nothingness. This is a song about partying! We really wanted to do it justice and find another reason for people to lose their minds come the ‘freakin weekend’.”

The band themselves describe their music as “forest rock”, aptly depicting the freedom and adventure inherent to their songs, but all labels stamped upon them fall flat in comparison to the worldly experiences that form the basis of their inspiration. “Our musical influences are just all over the place. Most of the influences don’t come from other musicians as they do from other areas of life. Travelling is probably the biggest creative influence you can have. Marcus and Pepa each did their own colossal trip overseas before punching out a lot of the songs. Marcus visited his grandmother in Uganda and Pepa trekked throughout India and they came back with a lot of inspiration. We also do a lot of our own travelling around Australia. We all came back together with a lot of fresh ideas.”

The most recent of the band’s escapades includes a performance at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK, as much an indication of Jinja Safari’s rising success overseas as the band’s constant desire for travel and adventure. “We did our first trip as a band over to the UK and America in May. It was an experience of a lifetime. …. Half the time we didn’t know what we were doing there or why anyone should really be there listening to us.”

But throughout August, Jinja Safari will be back on more familiar shores, travelling around Australia on The Blind Date Tour with fellow indie rockers White Arrows (USA) and Opossom (NZ).  “We’re hugely excited, as we should be, playing with those two bands. We’d never met any of these guys before planning to tour with them [and] when it came time to tour it seemed ridiculous to get two other bands of such great, great quality and incredible in their own way. To get both of them on the same tour seems ridiculous but we shot for it and it’s worked out. Most of us haven’t met, so the ‘blind date’ name of the tour is a bit of a play on that idea.”

But unlike most blind dates, for Stranger, it’s love even before first sight as he gushes over the mere thought of collaborating on-stage with the likes of White Arrows and Opossom: “We’d love to! Since listening more and more to Opossum and some of the cool sounds he’s punching out, and then going to work on some of our new songs that are taking shape before the tour, I keep having little fantasies about asking Kody to step up with his synths and add in little bits here and there. …No plans as of yet but the incentive is definitely there.”

Jinja Safari and The Blind Date Tour will be stopping by Canberra on August 15th at our very own ANU Bar, thrilled as always at the idea of more adventures and newfound experiences. “Canberra’s the major city we’ve made our way over to the least amount of times so we’re extremely excited. It’s always a treat.”