There’s music that you can listen to that always brings a smile to your face, whether it be the upbeat melody, the uplifting lyrics or a quirky beat. Saskwatch has all of these, so it’s no wonder that chatting with the lead singer of the group, Nkechi Adele, also made me smile.
A big year for Saskwatch is just wrapping up. They released their fourth album, Manual Override to huge acclaim and embarked on a huge tour of the country. It was also a huge year for Adele herself, becoming the regular presenter on triple j’s Roots ‘N All and continuing her racial identity and culture website, The Pin.
With their latest album seeing the band lose its horn section, reducing to six members (from what was initially 20!) and going fully independent on this release, I asked Adele if she felt there was a new sense of freedom in the band?
“In some essence, yeah, it’s totally has freed us up a lot. Sonically, we’re not a huge band anymore which I think gave us, as artists and instrumentalists, a lot more room to experiment with our sound. Going through the process of not having horns was definitely a massive shift for us. Manual Override was quite grounding for us in accepting that we’d made this change and we were moving together into the future of Saskwatch.”
We discuss the challenges that being in such a large band had and how it’s taken some adjustment. But some things have definitely improved, as she continues, “It’s been easier, travel-wise, to have less people. We’re not cramped in random positions in the van trying to fit in with gear!”
So, would Adele ever take it even further and go solo?
“For me, not really. It’s not really something that I’ve looked to doing. I really like being in group scenarios. I don’t particularly like being on my own. But maybe that’s something I need to work on!”
Some members of the group have their own offshoots. Rob Muinos goes solo but also teams up with Liam McGorry (and others) in Dorsal Fins. McGorry also plays in Eagle & The Worm.
The reactions to the album and the tour have been hugely positive. Adele recalls with fondness playing to a sold-out Corner Hotel on their recent tour. It’s a venue that holds a special place for the band, having performed there for all four of their album launches.
“The Corner, especially growing up, is one of those places that you want to get to and knowing that we’ve created four albums and we can still play, I think it’s a great achievement.”
The band have a fervent fan base and Adele is quick to appreciate all of the fans that have been there for them since the beginning. When I try to dig out more tour stories, Adele is evasive.
“Nothing I can really talk about, to be honest!”
Talking to Adele about her passions, we get onto the topic of her radio show on triple j. Her first year of hosting has proven to be an exciting, learning experience.
“It’s my first time listening to music without thinking about it from a musician’s point of view. This year’s been really interesting because I’ve gotten to listen to a lot of genres through Roots ‘N All that I wouldn’t necessarily have listened to by myself.”
It’s also seen her travelling the country to see shows in a whole range of locations, but it’s being able to watch other people do what they’re passionate about that has Adele excited.
“It’s been really interesting watching bands and seeing their excitement and their passions come through in their music.”
Another passion for Adele is her website, The Pin. Through the mantra of “Think, Meet & Express,” the website aims to provide a platform for bi-racial Australians to discuss important topics, meet others and express their thoughts freely.
“It’s been really interesting to see those topics [from the website] explored through contemporary music in Australia with bands like A.B Original and Baker Boy. We’re seeing a lot more Indigenous artists being given a platform to have a national reach to people and [it’s great] seeing them go so well and seeing people being really receptive to that. It’s a really interesting time because I think there’s a lot of artists who are looking at their cultural upbringing and bringing that through their music and I think it’s just making our music stronger and more genuine through the honesty that people are portraying.”
We discuss further the tokenistic way that mainstream and commercial platforms are portraying cultural artists, but Adele is glad that the internet has provided platforms and places for people to go and read about their cultures in a safe place, whilst also being a portal for others to read and educate themselves as well.
With radio, live music and the website, Adele maintains a busy lifestyle, but it can become hectic.
“I literally bought a diary this month so that next year I have stuff written down when things become too overwhelming!”
It’s the band nearing 10 years together that brings so much joy to Adele as she elaborates, “Being able to still play music with guys that have basically been my mentors for my entire musical career is so great. It never slips my mind how amazing and exciting it is to know that we’re in a band that gets to play to audiences around Australia and that we’ve travelled the world with our music and been able to do so many things that we never thought possible.”
Saskwatch bring in the new year performing as part of the Sunset Sounds series at Victoria Gardens, Prahran along with Alexander Biggs on Sunday, 7 January. In a beautiful location, Adele is hoping to create a vibe that is “fun, super-energised and rocking!” If Saskwatch are involved, you can be sure that she speaks the truth.
7 January, Sunset Sounds, Victoria Gardens, Melbourne