We've been amped for the new SAFIA record from the moment we heard their chilling, meditative new song Resolution - which an equally enthralling music video to match - and today the Canberra boys have pushed our excitement to new heights by announcing the release date of their next album.
Story's Start Or End will drop August 9th and coupled with the release date announcement today, SAFIA have also unleashed two things: word of a HUGE tour of Australia and New Zealand with their mates in Boo Seeka and Eilish Gilligan, as well as another new song called Think We're Not Alone.
Cool Accidents sat down with the band's singer Ben Woolner to chat about the new record and its expansive cinematic style, inspired by deep-dives into otherworldly visual worlds dreamed up by the band.
Congrats on Resolution! I love the song. It’s so powerful and understated and feels so cinematic. Did you have any film soundtrack influences when you were writing it?
Thank you! All of our stuff is heavily influenced by films and visuals anyway. We picture a landscape when we’re writing, and whatever idea that sparks a song will often be quite visual. When we went through that song there was always this landscape we had in mind and we kept building on that landscape bit by bit, so we can kind of create this world that we see in our heads. Really trying to make something immersive and get lost in, that’s what I love about music the most. It can transport you to these different dimensions and these different worlds. That’s what we emphasise with our writing.
So what was the world you wanted to create with this song?
The idea of the song was this idea of two halves, of breaking free of an unconscious self, freeing yourself from various traits that might be holding you back, like ego. The first half was actually, I really wanted to create something that was a dream state – quite lucid and almost as if the listener is dreaming. So a lot of the sounds and production is created with like, ticking clocks, heartbeats, the beeping is the sound of a heart monitor in a hospital, the chords are my voice, breathing in and out, sort of like a slow breathing. This lucid, meditative dream state is where the thematics of the song is, trying to break free of this unconscious dream state. Then the second part is breaking free and like, flying over this African savannah. That song’s kind of cool because there’s two worlds within it, which works quite well thematically with the two halves of the song.
The fact that Resolution is about “the struggle of two opposing halves" is really interesting. Is this something you struggle with personally, or something you wanted to explore about the human condition in general?
A bit of both but particularly for this record, with everything I’d done previously I think maybe I was more aware of it [this time]… I think subconsciously there was ego, especially when you’re young. It drives you and you don’t realise it only gets you so far. When you get a bit older, you kind of have to reevaluate and work out the things that are driving you and if they’re helpful or not. Because we build everything without thinking and everything is done quite well, we’ve been lucky in that sense, there wasn’t really time to think about things not going well. I built a lot of my identity on music and having that as an outlet, during the process of this record I felt like I lost that outlet a bit. Maybe experienced a bit of writer’s block for the first time, a bit of self-doubt. I really had to become more aware of what I was doing, or make a change, or find a way to push through, and meditation really helped. Creating and almost breaking free – this sense of freedom when you break free and get this innate confidence, rather than this thing overcompensating and stopping you from proper self-growth.
Is that why Story's Start Or End took 2.5 years to complete?
We went in and made Internal and almost immediately started this, and the stuff that was coming out was really cool but lyrically, I wanted to write something that was really thought-provoking, artistic and critically acclaimed, and the grass is always greener but we’d always been considered a radio pop act and I thought we had more to offer than that. So we started writing these big expansive ideas and they were cool but in that process, I found that I wasn’t really ready to say a lot of these things and some of it is not quite genuine or it’s too quick to make judgements on the world around them without properly understanding my own behaviour and own traits and unconscious biases. So the record kind of made a shift – some of those early songs did make the record, it worked in context of the album journey. A journey through self-discovery and understanding yourself. After that is when you have the capacity to look beyond yourself and hopefully make a change in the community around you. So the album is quite introspective in the first eight songs but then it really lets go and it starts to become psychedelic with bigger ideas and bigger concepts.
What would you say will be most different on this album compared with your debut Internal?
To me, it’s way more mature. There’s a lot more restraint in the writing and the ideas, there’s a lot more of a clearer vision in some of the ideas? A lot of the songs are still instinctual, like Starlight, and a lot of Internal was stream-of-consciousness. Also, finer attention to detail and a very clear choice not to overproduce anything, really going into the songs and taking the time production-wise, to make the songs as immersive and three-dimensional and as world-building as possible.
Your new single Think We’re Not Alone is super different to Resolution! It’s funky, almost troppo style? What can you tell me about that?
Yeah! That’s a really cool song, it came together quite quickly. I pictured this like, robot with six different arms making breakfast all at the same time perfectly. In the production, there’s so many things going on but it’s all a collective beast. It’s a song about these anxieties that come to you in the night, but there’s something quite tribal and raw and heavy about it, but it’s still got that level of restraint and subtlety that maybe our older stuff may not have had when we were going that heavy. For me that melody is an earworm too – it takes a few listens but once it’s under your skin, it’s there. It’s a good one.
And SAFIA just announced a huge September tour with Boo Seeka playing some pretty big rooms! Are these shows gonna be bigger in production; what can we expect?
The path we’re going down, like with the record, is to create a world, not just a show where you go to see a band play. So we’ve got like theatre ideas and dynamics to really bring the songs to life, because the songs are really quite theatrical and visual so I think they deserve something more than just our band jamming out to the song. We’ve got the time to work out what’s the best way to bring them to life. So everything from the smallest things to the performance to the visuals, make it like a theatre show, and do the narrative of the record justice. We have two months of work to do until we get there!
Catch SAFIA on tour at the below dates.
Sat 24 Aug – UC Refectory, Canberra ACT (Lic A/A)
Thu 29 Aug – HQ, Adelaide SA (Lic A/A)
Fri 30 Aug – Metropolis, Fremantle WA (18+)
Fri 6 Sep – The Goods Shed, Hobart TAS (Lic A/A)
Sat 7 Sep – Forum Theatre, Melbourne VIC (18+)
Fri 13 Sep – Wollongong Uni Bar, Wollongong NSW (18+)
Sat 14 Sep – Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW (Lic A/A)
Fri 20 Sep – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay NSW (18+)
Sat 21 Sep – The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD (Lic A/A)
Fri 11 Oct – San Fran, Wellington NZ (18+)
Sat 12 Oct – Neck Of The Woods, Auckland NZ (18+)