Written and produced by the band over the past two and a half years in their hometown Canberra, SAFIA’s second album Story’s Start Or End has already seen current single Resolution, as well as previously released songs Think We’re Not Alone, Starlight and Cellophane Rainbow show casing the upward trajectory of this bandStory’s Start or End will show how this Australian three-piece’s bold vision and fine attention to detail, with intricate production and adventurous arrangements underpinning thoughtful musings on identity, growth, and understanding is a must listen. As a band they are known for forging entire sonic landscapes with rich, cinematic detail and Story’s Start or End will continue that not only sonically but also visually through their live shows starting this week in Adelaide. Hi Fi Way speaks to Ben Woolner about their new album on release day. 

Happy release day!
It’s a strange feeling to be working on something for so long. We finished it three months ago and to separate yourself from it again you end having this weird disparate relationship with your work. Then it comes out again and people start enjoying it. It is a good feeling.

Is that the hardest thing being able to separate yourself from your music and let it it go when it’s finished then over to the fans?
Once it’s out it becomes the fans and takes on a new life, we get the joy and fulfillment when writing it together, that’s where most of the positive stuff comes from after months of writing together to come up with ideas then you work on finishing it to the best of your ability and then step away from it. We’ve gone through a whole process with the record before anyone hears it. Now it takes on a different form and becomes something to the fans.

Did it feel like a labour of love taking some two and a half years to finish?
There were highs and lows like with everything. There was a lot of self doubt with this record because we had a lot of time. We wrote more music for this record than we ever had before, potentially writing a whole album’s worth of songs we didn’t use so there was this constant questioning about whether we were ever going to finish this record, is this working and we had all these diverging ideas going everywhere which were all cool but nothing stringing it together. Like with any big picture project, especially creatively you have this big picture in mind but you don’t know if you’re going to get there but you keep chipping away, keep turning up and trying your best. I think with that tenacity and faith in our work eventually out of nowhere the pieces start to come together and you get this body of work.

Was there any point where you lost belief where you thought you couldn’t finish this?
Plenty of times, I fight with that all the time. It is the hardest thing but the most rewarding thing of doing any form of creative work where you are soley responsible for the end product. Obviously we put so much time in to it and you don’t really see the broad affects of that until a few months after being out with people. It’s constant getting out and trying to back yourself even though there’s doubts and frustrations but you need tenacity and keep believing in in what you are doing and what speaks to us as individuals to making the best possible thing we can do that we like which hopefully can translate so other people can feel that honesty in the tracks.

What was your reaction to hearing your music on the radio?
Once it is on the radio we still feel like little kids and it never gets old. That’s the first time we can listen to it in a way like someone who hasn’t heard the songs before. Once it is on the radio it really is out of our hands and that level of analytical thinking you bring to your music when you’re trying to finish it is gone by that time, it’s more about trying to listen to it as a whole and really take in all the little pieces that brought it together.

How do you see the difference between albums one and two?
This one is a far more mature album and far more aware. I still like the first one but we were learning as we go. There was a whirlwind of things going on with our first album, touring for the first time, we were nineteen when the first songs came out and we have been touring constantly since then. Making an album was trying to get the songs together to form an album and we were doing a lot of it on instinct which is probably what made that one and a bit of luck that made the songs feel cohesive when we brought them together.

There was not as much of an intention as there was with this one but the difference was going through a process and finding that perfect balance with what we wanted to achieve but also not lose that instinct of what we did earlier, not falling in to the trap of over thinking or constraining our ideas within a box but within a concept. We needed to let the music be what it is no matter what the theme might be or the feeling of the songs but at the same time having the awareness of trying to fill this over arching narrative. It took a while but that was the hardest thing but by the back end of the process we started to find that perfect spot where we were feeling inspired and letting the songs be what they were. In doing that the songs naturally created this narrative.

Are you excited to be getting out tour with Boo Seeka and Eilish Gillgan?
Should be really fun! With all the time over the past five or six years in the band we have accrued an amazing crew of people who work with us. I feel we’ve got all the moving parts of the show really well oiled now and it feels like a big family. This has been the most thought out show we have put together and has become a real amalgamation of all the little bits that have come before in to the band we want to become and keep growing in to. I’m really excited for these shows.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch SAFIA on the following dates, tickets from Safia’s official website

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