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Appearing on the EDM scene a mere two years ago, Canberra trio Safia have since performed alongside fellow Canberraneans Peking Duk and opened for pop phenomenon Lorde during her Australian tour earlier this year. They’re now on a non-stop nation-wide tour, finishing in Perth on Friday, October 31. PENNY LANE speaks to producer Ben Woolner about the band’s distinct brand of electronica, listening to old school records, and Safia’s Middle East fan base.

Despite what their single Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues might suggest, Safia’s Ben Woolner, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers aren’t prejudiced when it comes to genre.

“We listen to everything – we’re really open-minded with music,” producer and lead vocalist Ben says. “It doesn’t matter what genre. A lot of the times, especially when we’re on tour, we usually just go back to the classics that we used to like.”

The classics sound nothing like the type of music these talented Canberra locals produce.

“Cinematic, soulful techno-electronica” is what you can expect to hear, Ben says. “When we play live it’s the hybrid between real genres like guitar and bass, but there’s also samplers, synths and stuff like that.”

Techno synths are teamed with Ben’s vocals, the deep soulful melodies attributed to his younger years hanging out with his dad.

“I grew up listening to a lot of dad’s jazz records and soul records and developed a kind of twang in my voice just by listening to it and mimicking it as a kid,” he explains.

Safia’s live performances have helped project the trio from Triple J Groovin’ The Moo competition winners to supports for the likes of RÜFÜS, Disclosure, Rudimental and, most recently, global darling Lorde.

“I remember getting that email, and just being like, ‘What?!,’” Ben recalls. “When we started the band and we started doing well, I still never thought we’d get to play at places like The Gordon [TAFE, in Geelong], playing the kind of music we do.”

The name, though shared with millions of women across the globe, was actually developed from the title of one of their earlier songs, Sapphire.

“The funny thing is, though, we found out later that it was actually a very common Arabic female name. It means ‘pure’ in Arabic. So initially when we started, the social media was mainly from places like Jordan because of the name.”

Now, the fellas have a huge following, both internationally and on home soil. Ben says he’s impressed with the support Perth fans have shown.

“We’ve always had a kind of strong following in Perth, which is awesome, and they really come and get into the shows.”

The boys are currently on their You Are The One tour.

“Perth’s going to be an awesome show because for starters, that’s the end of the tour,” Ben says. “It’s going to be a big Halloween celebration. So I’m really looking forward to that show, it’s going to be a massive party.”




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