Interview: Nkechi Anele

Interview: Nkechi Anele

Photo Courtesy: Lee Dot

Photo Courtesy: Lee Dot

This week Figaro caught up with Nkechi Anele, the lead singer of Melbourne band Saskwatch, to discuss joining Triple J, the bands new album and a side project which explores race, culture and identity here in Australia.

Saskwatch are due for a new album in 2017, could you tell us a bit about the
recording process and what we can expect to hear?

We recorded it in Melbourne at New Market studios with sound engineer Callum Barter who used to be our sound guy when we toured. This is the first time we have really taken hold of  creating a Saskwatch album from writing to recording and it's been a really interesting experience. I think in the past we have it has taken us a while to settle with new people so it was great walking into a space and not feeling too nervous about what was about to happen. I guess by now it's safe to say that no two Saskwatch albums sound the same and the tradition of trying out new sounds is continued with album number 4 which we started writing At the start of 2016 while we were on tour. I guess the biggest difference you'll notice is the lack of horns and the move towards a more experimental sound. 

How do you feel the album differentiates itself from some of your previous
work? As a band do you feel like your sound has transformed over the last few years?

I think this album has a newer direction and some unexpected instruments involved from a sound aspect. As Saskwatch keeps developing and forming I feel as though we're a lot more comfortable with experimenting and doing whack stuff. All our albums reflect where we are in life and music and I guess that's why each one sounds so different. We are always transforming from our soul roots to the more rock pop (I guess?) sound that we have today. 

You’re headlining the inaugural Grampians Music Festival; will this be the
start of what is destined to be a pretty memorable tour for

We love playing festivals and I couldn't think of a better way to start the year. We have changed our line up of instrumentalists in the past 2 years so it's going to be pretty great representing who we are now as a band in our home state. The line up for the festival is also sick and we're looking forward to seeing the other acts play as well. 

As huge Byron Bay Bluesfest fans, we recall fondly the first time we saw the band play/Bedazzle in 2013, what’s the Bluesfest like to play? 

Bluesfest is like heaven.  They really treat you well as an artist and they make you want to play your heart out if you are given the opportunity to be a part of their amazing line up each year. When we played Bluesfest we expected no one to know who we were but, it didn't turn out to be the case. Walking out on to stage at Bluesfest was one of those moments that will stay with me forever. The tent was packed and people were ready to party and party we did. It's so great to be an Australian band an know that you are supported across that nation. The experience was very humbling. 

Recently you’ve taken over the reins of Triple J’s Roots n All, from the iconic
Sarah Howells, can you share with us how that came about? 

I literally got a phone call .... at first ... and was asked to be a guest host for Roots N All halfway through the year. I was so excited and extremely nervous. It turned out to be so much fun doing that show but, I didn't expect anything else to happen. I was then asked to come and do the rest of the year and then asked whether I would like to present for 2017. 
It still feels crazy to think that this is really happening. Sarah Howells is a legend and I know I and stepping into big shoes next year.

What it’s like to fill in such a legends shoes? And how do you think your
show will differentiate between Sarah’s?

Sarah Howells has created a legacy through Roots, and there is no way I can replicate what she brought to the show. I guess my musical tastes lean more towards what combining Australian music culture with other cultures that have come to Australia, new artists coming through, new sounds from across the world ... I don't know .... it will just be different. 

The Pin is a project you’re currently working on, can you give those who aren’t aware of The Pin, a run down on what it’s all about?

The Pin is an online platform that talks about race, culture, and identity in Australia from the perspective of biracial and bicultural Australians. The aim of the site is to talk from the perspective of the individual and not for them. It came out of a lot of conversations Lucie Cutting and I have had throughout our friendship and we through this kind of discussion needed more representation in our media. 

It was originally created between you and Lucie Cutting, how did you the two of you initially meet? And where did this great idea come from? 

Lucie and I met when we worked at a library together and grew over a summer where we went to heaps of festivals and music shows - we actually met Sarah Howells that summer and hung out with Sharon Jones (RIP) and the Dap Kings.

Race and identity have always been things that we have talked about but when she moved to Tasmania it amplified because of the question "where are you from?" That she started getting asked A LOT  (and not from the point of are you from Australia). We wanted to talk about our experience and others to work out how to change this  

So, is The Pin targeted at anyone in particular, or is it there for all Australian’s to think about cultural issues?

Our site has an Australian focus but it is open to all to read and be a part of. 

It seems that there won’t be many harder working people in 2017 than Nkechi Anele, how do you plan to find that balance between your touring life, personal life and radio commitments?

Having a strong network of friends is helpful. Self care is something I have had to learn to keep in mind so I don't burn out. As I have gotten older I have really embraced saying 'no' it's a really powerful thing to be able to do and it's really simple. 

Finally, Which artists can we expect to see in your Triple J Hottest 100 for 2016?

  • Big Smoke
  • Ngaiire
  • A.B Original
  • Emily Wurramarra
  • Solange
  • Anderson. Paak

Thanks for having a chat Nkechi, we wish you all the best for 2017!

Catch Nkechi live at the Grampians Music Festival 24-26 of February, or on Triple J Roots n' All, Mondays at 10PM.

Enter, Godriguez

Enter, Godriguez

Interview: CC:DISCO!

Interview: CC:DISCO!