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Jinja Safari Interview

It’s been an eventful year for Sydney band Jinja Safari so far. Not only have they steadily released tracks from their second EP for free online, but they’ve also sold out shows on a national headline tour, played at the Big Day Out in Sydney, and graced the main stage of Splendour In The Grass. I had a brief chat with one of the band’s two ‘harmonizing frontmen and multi-instrumentalists’, Marcus.

Hey, first of all how did you enjoy Splendour In The Grass this year?

Splendour was so much fun this year. I had a career highlight at the end of our set. In honor of our second EP, I tried to dress up as a Mermaid, but the best I could find was an octopus suit from Vinnies, that must have once belonged to a primary school student as his name and grade were still on the inside. I donned the suit after the Mermaids song and told the crowd to follow me, the octopus man, up the hill of the main stage- so they crowd surfed me to the back, we dodged a few security and a few hundred of us ran at full tilt across the Amphitheater.

Of course this was your second year in a row playing the festival- last year you opened the main stage and I heard that you were amazing. How long had you been performing as a group before that set and how important do you think it was in making a name for yourselves?

It was a very important gig for us last year. We won a Triple J comp to play there- We’d played about four shows before Splendour, two of which were under a fake name, just to see if we could even play live. And another one was in the forest for a few friends and family, with a home PA system. So the Woodfordia main stage was mayhem for our very vulnerable and ambitious band, in its early stages of infancy.

Most recently I saw you play at Melbourne University. Do you find sets at universities much different to fully fledged gigs?

Yes especially when its in the middle of the day in the cafeteria of the University refectory when they are cooking free snags side of stage. We turned up, and there were three people eating sandwiches looking at the stage, and we thought, alright it’s gonna be a stretch today. But as soon as the bangers hit the hot plates, the uni students came sniffen’ around for a free meal, and we had some sort of crowd to play to. And we also got a few left over sausages to enjoy after the gig as well, so it was a good day for Jinja Safari.

You’re currently in the process of releasing the ‘Mermaids And Other Sirens’ EP, which has entailed gradually releasing tracks for free online. What was the thought process behind this decision, and how do you feel about the results so far?

The thought process was, ‘listen to your managers, they haven’t let you down yet’. And as we have mentioned a few times online before, it was a simple way to remove the finacial barrier between us and the audience. We do all the recordings ourselves and Pepa produces everything, so there isn’t alot of overhead costs for us. It’s not about the money, man, we’re doin it fo’ the kids.

A real sense of adventure and of the forrest is a part of pretty much everything Jinja Safari does, was this intended when you started the band or has it developed over time?

It was a bit of a side thought of ours initially, but it’s kind of gotten out of hand- overgrown like a neglected vege Garden. But we are all for the mayhem, and to continue with the vege garden metaphor, if there is something healthy growing underneath all the overgrowth, then it’s just fine by us. Both my parents are preachers, and we all grew up in the church, and whilst we have all found our own paths through life away from our parents, I have retained a couple of annoying preacher traits, one of which is constantly talking in metaphors and making analogies of almost anything.

I’ve seen some pretty amazing costumes at your gigs, what would you say is the best one that you’ve seen so far?

Alister’s leopard print t-shirt, which was supposed to go with the jungle theme, but unfortunately it just makes him look like a gay Miami pimp.

And finally, you’re playing at the BigSound festival in Brisbane soon which has a pretty amazing lineup of Australian talent. Are there any bands in particular that you’re looking forward to catching up with or seeing play?

So many, it’s such a great supportive little community of young musicians and performers in Australia right now. I’m looking forward to seeing YesYou, which are a local brisbane act.

Thanks so much for your time.

Jinja Safari are playing the BigSound festival in Brisbane on the 7th-9th of September alongside a list of stellar local talent. They are currently in the process of releasing their second EP, ‘Like’ them on Facebook for details.

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