Interview :: Jinja Safari
November 11th 2011
Nick La Rosa
There are few men who would lead a running crowd wearing an octopus for a hat. Jinja Safari’s Marcus Azon is an exception. The frontman and co-founder seized an opportunity to kickstart Splendour In The Grass 2011 with a run around the crowd to finish their set. His fellow Jinjas gave him all the soundtrack he needed, continuing to play until their frolicking friend had returned safely to the stage.
Few bands display the comradery of the Central Coast’s Jinja Safari. The fivesome jig together, play together and wear ponchos together. With a celebrated EP under their belt, the Jinjas have just unleashed their debut album Mermaids And Other Sirens, featured as an FBi Album Of The Week. The result is a jubilant, heartfelt run through the woods, featuring both their beloved singles and fresh unheard material. Frontman Azon took time out between rehearsals for the national album tour to chat about happiness, sadness and that on stage dancing guy, sans octopus hat.
FBi: Your new album has just dropped and is one jubilant shindig! A lot of music genres are based on negative emotion, whereas yours is filled with happiness. How important is positivity to your music?
Azon: For me it simply came from the realisation that we are much more in control of our lives than we sometimes think. Depression is a real problem in the western world, and youth suicide is a real issue. But I really think we have taken our lives for granted. If you look at a country like Uganda, where the suicide rate is frighteningly less than Australia, it doesn't make any logical sense. So many east Africans have a past, present and future that some might deem to be completely without hope. Where kids in the western world forget what a blessing it is just to be alive. Let alone being born into a country where there is a stable government, with funding for education, medical and welfare… All for free. Just cause we happened to be born here. I think we make up problems for ourselves when we have none.
I used to be a cynical prick, and maybe will always battle with that. But I will always try and find a way back to the positive. And I think this is a conscious choice that can be made.
There are enough bands singing about how bad life is. I'm happy for them to keep doing it.
After touring with your first EP for some time now, you’ve released quite the number of singles. What would you say to the notion of your debut album almost being like a quasi-JS Greatest Hits?
I would say yes thanks… We tried so hard to get our managers across the line on that- either All Those YEAR Greatest Hits (which they said was all done before) or Songs Are Just Feelings For Sale…but we ended up just choosing a lyric from Mermaids.
On stage you all seem to have so much fun. There are bands these days who put looking ‘too cool for school’ in front of really enjoying their music, what do you think?
See above. But also we aren’t cool and that’s important to remember. I sometimes battle with self doubt and I think we all go through varying degrees of needing validation for what we do… But I think there is a bigger part of me that is just stoked that we are playing gigs and people are coming to shows. We aren’t going to be able to make everyone happy, but if I can make Nugget laugh on stage or trip him over during his glock solo Its going give us something to chuckle over on the drive home.
What's the best live moment you've had so far?
Being chased by the crowd at Splendour in the octopus suit.
As far as your Jinja Safari story goes, I hear yo