It’s a warm autumn day in Melbourne and Nkechi Anele is wasting some time at Gertrude Street’s Northside Records, rifling through crates of old vinyl and listening to music with one of her eight band mates, Liam McGorry.
Anele is the lead singer of Saskwatch – a gutsy frontwoman who can wail with the best of them. But in the light of day, she’s humble and reserved about the band’s recent success. McGorry has a similar disposition, answering questions politely as he picks a few of his favourite records to play as a backdrop to our interview. He still works at Northside Records, albeit occasionally. It was his local haunt as a kid and he’s doing a few shifts in between tours. And touring is what Saskwatch do. In much the same vein as The Cat Empire and The Bamboos before them, this band of nine twenty-something Melburnians have forged a reputation for a dynamic live set, backing Anele’s sweet soul voice with searing brass and horn sections.
Their debut LP Leave it All Behind was released last year to rapturous praise. Their debut single Your Love went straight into heavy rotation on Triple J, which gained them spots at Meredith, Falls and Golden Plains music festivals.
Today, Anele and McGorry have finally got some time to take stock. “I’m having a break because last month was so busy with shows,” says Anele, reeling off a list of their recent commitments, which include supporting The Cat Empire in Western Australia, playing The Hills are Alive and Blues Fest, completing a residency at Cherry and playing two university open days.
Once he’s finished serving a customer, McGorry joins the conversation. “We also played at the Palais to support Earth Wind and Fire,” he says. “That was before we headed off to Europe.”
There’s no sign of things slowing for Saskwatch. They have a new single coming out in April, a launch at The Prince Bandroom in Melbourne and another east coast tour.
The band’s new single I Get Lonely – which as recorded with Mikey Young, a producer known best for his work with garage rock bands like Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Boomgates and Dick Diver – pushing the band’s sound into an entirely different, garage-influenced place. “Mikey is killer to work with,” says McGorry.
“We can really get raucous on stage now and tear our songs apart live to get the mood up,” adds Anele.
It looks like another promising year ahead for Anele and McGorry. But they’re still reluctant to look too far ahead. “It’s been amazing,” says McGorry of band’s ride thus far. “But that’s soul music.”