The Gold Coast music scene is teeming with hidden gems, including fresh new indie-rockers Local Safari, the talented five-piece band exploding onto the scene this year with two vibrant singles and a collection of innovative and energetic live shows.
Having just released their second single ‘Daffodil’, which sees Local Safari really come into their own, we had the opportunity to sit down with founding members and best mates, Leah Horn and Josh Heaton, as they took us on a guided tour of their sound, the Gold Coast music scene and what it's like to debut during a pandemic.
Leah and Josh’s camaraderie was obvious right away, so I wasn’t surprised when they told me that they had been friends since meeting in grade nine english. It was more of a shock to learn that they had never actually played together until years later.
Josh: One day I was playing the guitar and then out of nowhere Leah started singing and I was like "hold on, what do you mean you can sing?" So we started writing - I think we had four different choruses of four different songs, we never wrote a full song but eventually we did so we were like "okay who can we get in? Who do we know?"
In classic Gold Coast style, Local Safari came about one sunny afternoon over a few beers and a jam sesh. It didn’t take long for the group to realise that they wanted to make this a more frequent occurrence and thus Australia was blessed with a brand new indie-rock band.
Leah: "We met the other boys through mutual friends and through work. We used to jam out with acoustics and electric drums and then one day we thought, 'this is so much fun, why don't we just do this all the time?!' So at the start of the year we thought we should just make a band and see how it goes. So we did."
Six-months on and with a few changes to the line-up, Local Safari are now settled with a very talented quintet comprising of lead-singer Leah, Josh on rhythm guitar and back-up vocals, Kale as the lead guitarist, Marco playing bass and Brad on the drums.
Josh: Five is such a good number. More of us on stage and lots to vibe with. Enough noise to cover you if you f*ck up!
Debuting during a pandemic was obviously not the plan for the group when they decided to form a band at the beginning of the year, however COVID-19 actually presented them with a unique breakout experience that also provided some amazing opportunities.
Leah: Because we started during COVID, we’ve never actually had that crowd response or engagement that most bands get where you can test if you are on the right track and if people are vibing or dancing or reacting well to the songs. So we’ve had to self-asses. It’s been good because we’ve had to self-reflect more than basing it solely on the crowd.
Josh: I still think, even despite COVD, the response we’ve had has been pretty good. Although people can’t dance, they definitely shout. For the few first gigs we had, it was just our mates, as it always is, and we were just having a good time playing for them. Then because the Gold Coast scene after COVID was eager to bring back live music, we got put on a few gigs which is really lucky. We played like five gigs in five weeks.
"In a way it’s actually been more of a benefit than a hindrance. We’ve had more time to practice, more time to self-reflect and we’ve gotten way more gigs."
Restless from isolation and eager to play live for the first time, Local Safari made it happen, hosting a concert in their backyard by inviting a line-up of Gold Coast artists to join them in creating a mini-festival.
Leah: Our first ever gig was during that tiny window in the middle of the year when you could have a hundred person house parties. So we jumped onto that and hosted a party here, in my backyard, with Peach Fur, Pure Milk, Acer Spade, Girl and Girl - some really really amazing Gold Coast artists that wanted to play because they hadn’t had any gigs in ages. So it was free, they all played for free, it was live streamed, people came and it was so much fun. That was our first ever gig and it was in my backyard. That never would have been able to happen if it wasn’t for COVID.
Local Safari are passionate about supporting local artists, already setting an important standard by creating local gigs that support local talent and generating opportunities their peers as well as themselves.
Leah: What I’ve definitely seen at the moment with COVID is this idea of support your local. At the moment there's not one Australian artist in the Top 50. Americans support American artists because they’re huge, they're worldwide. Music that comes out of Australia is second to none, it’s just as good but it’s not getting that same support. This movement encourages us Aussie’s to attend local gigs and look up Australian artists before mindlessly playing the top 50. I think that’s so cool that COVID has brought about this support your own and support your local energy. It’s really exciting for the Australian music scene and for us.
"I think we need to push to support our own in the music industry and it’s exciting that it’s starting to happen."
From Australia’s Spacey Jane and Ball Park Music to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as Oasis and Arctic Monkeys, Local Safari have a vast range of music influences that they draw from when making their music.
Leah: I draw influence from a lot of Australian artists. Two of my favourite bands are The Jungle Giants and Ball Park Music. I love the way Ball Park write their songs; it doesn’t rhyme and it’s quite disjointed but they make it work. That’s something that I admire because I struggle to write lyrics that don’t follow a poem structure. I’m also influenced by local bands, like Girl and Girl, they’re incredible. Pure Milk, Peach Fur, Citrus Daze - there’s so much awesome music coming out of the Goldie at the moment.
Josh: I also love the Australian music scene, some of the bands I'm hearing that have got less than a thousand listeners on Spotify are just so so good. There's a few bands from Newcastle that I've been listening to at the moment; Rum Jungle and Camino Gold. Spacey Jane are another big one, especially because people have said that we have a similar sound. So they’re a pretty big influence. I like their songwriting a lot as well, it’s really simple and to the point but also contains that airy, wavy flow that we share. We have so many music influences between all of us:
Marco is a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, especially their amazing bassist Flea.
Brad comes from playing in metal bands, so he’s got some heavy music influences. That’s why he’s such an excellent drummer, because the drumming in heavy metal music is insane.
Then Kale and I are influenced by English music; Oasis, Arctic Monkeys.
With Triple J’s nominees for Australian Album of the Year just landing, we had to know Local Safari’s top picks from 2020.
Josh: Mine is definitely Spacey Jane, Sunlight, no competition. It’s just perfect, from start to finish. Every song on it is just so good. There's been some really good albums this year, Hockey Dad’s Brain Candy comes to mind as my second pick - I love that album, every song on it is solid. I also love Between You and Me, San Cisco, 14 Steps To A Better You, Lime Cordiale and Ball Park Music’s self-titled album.
Following their debut single ‘My Friend’, the release of their second single 'Daffodil' has seen Local Safari really come into their sound as they get to know each other, streamline their creative process and dabble with some new pop layers.
Josh: We love ‘My Friend’, we reckon it’s a banger, but it's not the best description of our sound. If you come watch us live or hear our other songs you wouldn't think that ‘My Friend’ is a good description of our set. ‘Daffodil’ is more us.
For the last few songs we’ve written, I’ll make up a chord progression that I really like and I’ll play it to Leah and some days it’s one that we just throw away but then other days it sticks. Sometimes it’s just like that lightning moment, it’s just meant to be. It’s so good.
Leah: I think it’s definitely gotten easier. I was really bad at writing a chorus melody or a verse melody and then getting really stuck and not knowing how to finish it off or continue it. It’s definitely easier now that the boys lay the foundations and I will just listen to it over and over again and come up with the melody and the lyrics that way. Honestly it just depends on your mood really.
Josh: We’re really lucky because the boys in our band are amazing musicians so Leah and I can spend all this time creating a song and then we take it to prac and they just slot in their parts and it’s like 'yep, now we’re on'. We’re lucky we’ve got such a good team.
The band are loving the opportunity to play live, treating audiences to their own sparkling tracks as well as energetic covers of crowd-favourites such as Fleetwood Mac's 'Go Your Own Way' and Jet's 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl'.
"If I had to describe our sound, I'd say it's just fun-as. Mates and people we don't know all say that our music is fun, we make music to move and groove to. We want to fill in our set with big, dancing, crowd interaction type songs, cause that’s what makes us happiest, when the crowd’s going off."
Leah: It’s definitely indie-rock, I think we sprinkle some elements of indie-pop in there. We love that ‘Daffodil’ has some synth and key layers, which was really fun experimenting with. We definitely want to dabble in that a bit more but obviously we’ll never evolve completely to indie-pop because we’re more of an indie-rock band, based on our members and our sound. Indie-rock with a spicy sprinkle of indie-pop.
Josh: There’ll always be a layer of garage rock in there too because we started just playing in our mate’s garage. So we’ll always be a through and through garage rock band that had its first gig in the backyard.
Well hold onto your hats because this so-called backyard band is on a brisk upwards trajectory, with the group announcing their debut EP is in the works.
Leah: We're definitely working on an EP. We’re actually going back into the studio in like two weeks to record the rest of it. We’re hoping to release our third single at the start of next year. Then we’ll continue working on the EP probably until early to mid next year, hopefully.
Josh: We’re keen because all of the songs that will be on the EP are our first songs. The songs that we’ve played the most and we can’t wait for everyone to hear them because we’re already starting to think up new stuff. I think it’s really good as musicians to be constantly thinking about the next thing, to keep your creative spirit going. So it’ll be good when we’ve got all these out and we can do more.
If patience is not your virtue (I feel you), don't worry because Local Safari have organised another gig celebrating local talent at Burleigh's BBQ Bazaar. Having created the line-up themselves, the event is a triple single release featuring Wharves, themselves, Chutney and Brixton Alley. New local music, sunset drinks and food trucks... sign us up!
Leah: That is a pretty proud moment for us. It’s crazy because we were just like "oh my gosh, who are we going to get? "And then Wharves said yes and we were stoked. It's going to be the best day!
Honestly our gigs have just been so lucky, we've had the opportunity to play with so many amazing artists and we're like "what the hell, what are we doing?" It’s so exciting. And they're all legends - everyone is so nice and supportive. I don't know whether it's just the Gold Coast or the scene in general but everyone we've dealt with so far, whether it’s sound technicians to venue managers, has been so nice.
See Local Safari Live
Saturday 21st November
Daffodil Daydream Single Launch
BBQ Bazaar Burleigh