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Melbourne at the moment is funk ‘n’ soul city. You can barely leave the house without feeling the bass, the groove and the good times, and one reason for this is local nine-piece Saskwatch. “I honestly couldn’t tell you [why Melbourne is so funky] right now,” laughs trumpeter Liam McGorry. “It’s such an amazing scene though… to have all these amazing bands in the one place… too many to name, I’ve never been anywhere else like it.”
“It probably has something to do with The Bamboos starting ten to 12 years ago, and obviously Melbourne has such an iconic music scene… it does seem like Melbourne has become a melting pot for this sort of stuff,” he adds. There’s always been a simmering funk and soul scene down here for sure, but with the emergence of bands like The Bamboos and Deep Street Soul, and more recently Saskwatch, Cactus Channel and Clairy Browne, it’s become a full-blown epidemic, shimmying up to our veritable rock scene, and hip-bumping it off to the side.
Saskwatch themselves formed around three years ago, meeting at the VCA and bonding over a love of old school soul, amongst other styles, which at first glance seems odd for ones so young. “Well, soul for me is one of my favourite sorts of music,” McGorry counters, “I love it, I can’t really think of anything else I like better. And being in Melbourne, with this scene, it’s a pretty regular thing.”
In addition to the sounds of old, Saskwatch are also channeling the new, tapping into the vibes being laid down in New York by The Menahan Street Band and the Budos Band out of Daptone Records. “We listen to a lot of other new stuff too, like Dr. Dog and Alabama Shakes, it’s all music related to having soul, that’s what we bring.”
This has all played in the band’s favour, particularly over the past 12 months. Saskwatch have found themselves supporting Earth, Wind & Fire and Maceo Parker, along with appearances at Golden Plains, last year’s Falls Festival and, most recently, the Edinburgh Festival, to much acclaim. In amongst all this too, has been the release of debut LP Leave It All Behind, a sonic slab reminiscent of a time gone by, which these youngsters have brought back to life, fashioned for the now.
“We thought maybe just a few friends would buy it,” McGorry smiles. “But it’s been great, we can’t ask for anything more, it’s just been heaps of fun and we can’t wait to do the next one.” That next one, incidentally, isn’t far off. These guys are young and hungry, the world their funky oyster.
Samuel J. Fell