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Soljah - Time out with the Ben and Les from Soljah

03 May 2013 // An interview by Dilemma

Hey guys, so you have a new release coming up... Tell me about it? 

Aotearoa which is our new album, will be dropping on May 10th. It has had a good response so far, Aotearoa is also the name of a single off our album and that’s had heaps of good feedback too. It’s really helped to kickstart the album.

Sweet, so after the album release... are you touring? What can we expect to see from Soljah over the next year?

It's our first album, which is pretty exciting. We hope to do lots of live shows as well and get out there and just play as much as we can.

How would you describe your music?

Rock, funk and reggae – with lots of different influences from Gospel and Jazz/fusion. We’re not really looking to make music that sounds like established artists, we want to do our own thing and keep it unique!

Which is the song that I must listen to first on the album and why?

Aotearoa! Because it’s track #1 :)

Who are your favourite NZ musicians/bands, and why?

Ben: Katchafire – they’ve been a huge influence in our sound.
Les: And Kora.

Did you collaborate or are you collaborating with anyone on your new album, how is that going?

We collaborated with Organic who rapped on our track Kiss Me.  

So I know that Jacob Nansen has a pretty famous connection in the NZ music scene (Erakah), what about the rest of you guys?

Just Jacob! And our drummer Tawhiri who plays for Sons of Zion.

What NZ musicians or bands would you like to see more of, and why?

Bands like Kora, who get out there and aren’t afraid to do something different. It would be great to see more bands that go out and find a unique sound and do their own thing.

Who would you most like to support live?

Kora. We’ve already supported them before but they were great to play with.

How do you come up with your lyrics?

Ben: They’re based on life experiences, a lot of things that have happened in my life. Once you’re inspired, each song pretty much writes itself.

How do you believe you fit into the NZ music industry?

We’re just a part of the ever evolving NZ sound. But it’s always changing and we as a band are constantly changing too to try and keep it fresh.

What inspired you to become a musician/start a band?

Ben: Growing up and watching it all. My dad was a musician and wouldn’t let us touch any of his instruments but it made me want one! I got my first drum kit when I was 7.
Les: For me it was a natural progression, it kind of just happened. 

What is the best part of being a musician?

Free food! And playing live.

What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?

Ben: Practise heaps! And never be afraid to ask questions and learn from other musicians in the industry.
Les: Keep Practising, keep yourself inspired and always listen to new music that influences you.

What is your favourite NZ venue?

The Bedford in CHCH was awesome but unfortunately it’s gone now. Also the Maungatoroto Hotel – it’s our stomping ground!
Ed's Note - The Bedford now operates from the CPSA Building at 126 Madras Street in Christchurch.

What is the best gig you have ever performed at, and why?

Ben: Sonic Wave at Whangamata, the fans were awesome.
Les: Road to Raggamuffin, Hastings show. The crowd was awesome too and we felt we had really finetuned our set at that show.  

What is your most embarrassing on tour/gig moment?

We haven’t had many. Les once accidentally headbutted the microphone but I’m sure there will be more chances for those this year!

What is your favourite place in NZ to be?

Ben: Kaipara!
Les: The Coromandel.

What is in your CD collection at home?

Ben: The Green, James Morrison.
Les: D’Angelo, James Fortune, Stevie Wonder.

How do you keep in contact with your fans?

Facebook! www.facebook.com/soljahnz

What can you never leave home without?

Our guitars! 

What rumour would you like to start about yourself?

We are all stamp collectors. Haha.

Thanks guys, looking forward to checking out the new album!


About Soljah

Soljah are a five piece unit based in Kaipara and Auckland New Zealand, consisting of five heavy weight musicians who are creating waves across Aotearoa with their mesmerising live performances and ground stomping sound. Heavy distorted riffs with rhythms that knock you off your feet, bouncy drum and bass to put you back on your feet, and tight vocal harmonies that drip with catchy melodies.

While listening to Soljah's music you will discover an eclectic blend of influences. The heavily distorted guitar lines mixed with jazz harmony come from the master mind of guitarist Les Watene, who has a degree in Jazz. The four on the floor bass drum can be attributed to Tawhiri Littlejohn's history of playing reggae music since he was young. The soulful vocals of Ben Ratima are reminiscent of a love for old school artists such as Stevie Wonder, and the percussive slapping coming from Raniera Littlejohn's bass oozes funk and soul. Nicely finished off by a touch of RnB comes from Jacob Nansen on keys.

The five musicians that make up Soljah have been painting their flavour throughout NZ in the music of many well known NZ artists, as they are all highly sought after session musicians, called on by the best for various recording projects and performances. Between the five of them they have played for NZ artists such as King Kapisi, Anika Moa, Savage, Che Fu, Vince Harder, Nesian Mystic, Annabel Fay, Ben Lummis, Josh Leys and Sons of Zion.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Soljah


Year: 2013
Type: Album
Moving Up
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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