Internal Dialogue: A conversation with Safia

Catching up with the Safia lads one Wednesday evening in Melbourne led to some pretty interesting dialogue.

We talked their debut album, Internal (the words ‘inter-dimensional’ pulled pork were thrown around), touring pals and the process of bringing their epic stage show to life.

It’s been a pretty slow burn for you over the last couple of years in terms of releases.

Ben: It’s like a slow roasted pulled pork. 3 years, slowly simmering. It’s falling off, you can’t even pick it up.

So is this how it feels to be finally dropping your debut album – tender, but not overdone?

Ben: It feels like it’s going to be the best pulled pork burger of an album.
Michael: With a bit of nice brioche.
Ben: And some slaw on the side. That’s the kind of album we’ve got.
Harry: The pork is so tender it’s not even there. It’s fallen through.
Michael: Become inter-dimensional.
Ben: It’s become so tender it’s moved to another dimension. It’s sitting in another dimension, but no one’s there to enjoy it. Yet. That’s what our album is like.

That was beautiful.

Ben: Wow. I should answer every question like that.

You’d already been playing a couple of tracks off the record at shows. How do you think they’ve been received with people not knowing them all too well?

Michael: Really good. We’ve been surprised by a couple of the responses, actually.
Harry: A couple of people have come and been like ‘that song, I don’t know what it was, but it was the best.’
Michael: Everyone’s always been pretty excited about it after the shows. Pretty hyped to hear the new stuff.
Ben: So that’s why we’ve called this album ‘New Stuff’ – you just can’t wait to hear it.

Internal was written and produced between Canberra and London. Did the different surroundings influence the way the tracks came together?

Michael: Well, it generally happens in a studio.

So, not really… Well, In terms of different experiences inspiring new ideas?

Ben: The incarnations of the song have happened over such a long period of time. So I think the ones in London came together relatively quickly. But all other tracks, we’ve built them up over time rather than succinctly.

In a few weeks when the album drops, you’ll be embarking on a pretty massive tour. You’ve given us a bit of a taste of your new live show on your last tour…

Harry: Hors d’oeuvre.

Are these shows going to be even bigger and better in terms of production?

Ben: Yeah, it’s going to be a big show. We’ve got a lot of music to choose from. Maybe, just maybe, by the end of the show we’ll have reached that inter-dimensional pulled pork layer.

How do you go about taking the intricate layers of your music to the stage? It’s such a big production – how do you go about bringing it to life?

Ben: Lots of hard work.
Harry: Lot’s of things going on behind the scenes. Fiddling about on computer programs and such.
Michael: And placing certain samples on stage.
Ben: Then it’s a matter of finding them, on the stage somewhere. We often hide samples around the stage and it’s like a sample Easter egg hunt. You’ve got to find the sample and you’ve got to play it to complete the song.
Michael: You’ve got to have a good sense of smell.
Ben: Different samples have a different aroma. We also often hide a sample up the front for the team – if they find it, they can hit it during the show.
Harry: If you hear a foghorn at some point, it’s them. Not us.
Ben: But yeah, it’s a lot of pre-production and a lot of collaboration with various people. We’re doing a lot of work with two guys called Toby and Pete – they’re animators. They’ve been putting together sequences which go on the screens behind us during the show.

In the past your tours have been a really great launchpad for your support acts. There’s been Boo Seeka, Owen Rabbit, Lower Spectrum…

Ben: We just unearth them.
Michael: Safia Unearthed.

Do you guys have a bit of influence over who jumps on board?

Harry: Yeah definitely. We ask, and hopefully they want to play with us.
Michael: A lot of bands turn us down.
Harry: Yeah, for the last tour we asked for Knife Party and Boy George.
Ben: We always make good friends with the acts who join us though.
Michael: We’ve been really lucky. All of them have been great musicians and great people.
Harry: We’ve made some life long friends out of touring with various bands. I’m sure we’ll make lifelong friends with Set Mo and Running Touch.
Ben: Can’t wait to run and touch him.
Interview ends in hysterical laughter. 

Internal is out now. SAFIA kick off a huge tour this week with Set Mo and Running Touch in tow.