A Chat with Safari Room (28.04.20)

Simply put, Safari Room is an indie-rock band based in Nashville, TN. Thing is, while they were assembled in Nashville, not a single band member is from Nashville. Compared to Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes, Safari Room is an engrossing and experimental group. Vocalist Alec Koukol (AK), guitarist Chris Collier (CC) and drummer Austin Drewry (AD) chat to us about their upcoming single ‘Young Water’, discovering new artists and much more.

OSR: How did you decide on the band name Safari Room? Was it a simple decision or were their arguments?

AK: Safari Room comes from the idea that you can reframe and refocus your perception of your surroundings, either as a safeguard or an escape. I came up with that when I started the project many years before Safari Room began properly to release music.

OSR: How did the band form?

AK: Safari Room began as a pseudonym for the music I was writing on my own in a dorm room back in 2016. I got a handful of friends to help record and finish up a few songs which became our first EP. It wasn’t until 2018 that I wanted to make Safari Room a real, live entity. I put the band together and we began tracking new music and playing shows. Here we are, over two years later, polishing a tailored sound.

OSR:  Your upcoming single ‘Young Water’ is out on May 1st. What can you tell us about the tune?

AK: ‘Young Water’ is our most upbeat song to date. It was co-written with fellow Nashville artist, Jake Wesley Rodgers (who everyone should check out immediately). The song went through a few hands before it found a home with Safari Room. We’ve been playing it on the road for a bit and that helped us really dial in what we wanted with the song’s arrangement and feel. Tracking the song with Paul Moak at The Smoakstack in Nashville was a dream come true and it helped bring a whole new vibe to the song.

OSR:  What do you hope people take from the single?

AK: The message is to take command of your life and situation. Nothing is going to come to you just because you want it. Putting time and energy into a goal is the most rewarding way of seeing it achieved on the other side. Also, in current times of being cooped up, we hope people can get up and dance and feel a little bit of life return through listening to ‘Young Water’.

OSR: What do you hope people take from your music in general?

AK: Comfort and connection. We make music as Safari Room to be in relationship with each other and the music. It’s a conversation that we invite listeners to be a part of. Our music has deep, introspective lyrics that we hope find listeners some sense of understanding or community within hard times.

OSR:  Do you believe your sound has evolved from your debut release in 2018 to now?

AK: Our sound is more refined than ever. Touring has brought us closer as people and musicians in a band, and it is palpable through the new music and live shows. We’re constantly challenging ourselves musically outside of the band and that helps influence our progress moving forward as Safari Room.

OSR: What are the benefits and challenges of being an independent artist?

AK: Being able to make all the decisions is a benefit to being an independent artist. It is sort of a double-edged sword though. Sometimes, as an independent band, it’s hard to know exactly what moves to make and when. Ya just gotta watch and observe others; learn and trust your gut!

OSR:  Who is your favourite artist and why that musician?

AK: Right now, Elbow. They’re helping me get through the current weird times of isolation and self-definition. Guy Garvey’s voice is pure bliss with an audible history and wisdom to it.

AD: Soccer Mommy. Beautiful songwriting and really evocative imagery – makes me feel a lot.

CC: Midland. Beautifully produced sounds, great guitar and pedal steel parts, smart hooks and lovely harmonies.

safari rooms on stage
Courtesy of Safari Room

OSR:  What, do you think, is the best way to discover new music?

CC: Investigating through Instagram. Following links in videos you watch or checking out the artists that your current favourite artists share.

AD: Honestly, Spotify can be a great tool for discovering new bands in your area or genre. It’s not great for supporting those bands, but good for finding them.

OSR:  If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do all day?

AK: Making records and touring. It’s what we love to do above all else with Safari Room.

OSR: What advice do you have for any person planning to become a musician?

AK: Advice that was profound in my musical upbringing was advice Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) gave in an interview, “when you expect anything from music, you expect too much.” It’s incredibly realistic advice for folks pursuing music, encouraging young musicians to be honest with themselves about why they’re getting into it. It takes work and diligence for an opportunity to arise and sometimes even that can’t be assumed/expected.

CC: Don’t shy away from jamming/writing/producing demos with anybody you meet early on. Every relationship adds up and gives you a footing in an industry where you NEED each other.

AD: Don’t be afraid of exploring every kind of music and style.  Even if you know you don’t find a certain genre interesting, push yourself to learn more about your craft no matter the setting.

OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?

AK: In these tricky times, be kind and support each other. Furthermore, support small business and the little guys. We’ve seen a ton of businesses here in Nashville close amidst the Safer at Home Order and they may not reopen. Tip large if ya can and patron places now if you’d like to patron them when getting back to some semblance of normalcy.

Also, Safari Room has more music coming out and so much already released. Give it a listen and stay tuned for a ton more very soon. Stay healthy, stay home and wash your hands!

Thanks to the gents at Safari Room for the chinwag! To engage with them and find out more about their music, check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Spotify.

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