As we await the new album from eclectic Scottish artist Cafolla, ‘Cowboys and Africans’, he speaks to us in an exclusive interview about his creative ventures so far. He released his latest single, ‘1985’, alongside a music video this summer through Dusty Reel Records.
For those who may be new to your music, how best would you describe your sound?
Nice easy question to start with, ha! The sound moves from track to track to serve the melody and lyrics, so for “1985” it’s tight grooves, big synths, sexy vocals and boss guitars! They are the core of the sound throughout the album.
What challenges have you faced in the music industry so far?
Up until now I guess the biggest one is where my music belongs within, in terms of the ‘right’ festival slot or bill. Everyone wants to label and categorise your music; I understand why we do it, but sometimes it doesn’t do the music any justice. For example “1985” has got a Prince vibe/sound but the lyrics are a commentary on consumerism and deal with the social consciousness. Should we label it Funk or Political/Protest? It’s both for sure, but I could miss out on a festival because they think it’s one or the other. It could belong on any stage, on any festival as it’s music made from the soul – that’s what drives it!
How difficult would you say this career path is in terms of making a name for yourself?
For any original artist it’s super difficult! We live in the age where remakes, nostalgia and cover-centric bands rule. My music is honest, original and with no gimmicks to sell it. I just try maintaining the highest standards for the output of the songs, the sound and the band – that’s what drives me. I’ve never wanted a name for myself for any other reason than someone who’s just trying to make the best music he can!
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
I know what I like, I know the sound I’m looking for and I like producing music, so it is very important to me to make sure I get what I’m looking for. The most important factor in that though is picking the right musicians, engineers and artwork artists I can get to collaborate with me. I’m SO lucky to have the most amazing family of these guys wanting to make the sound I hear in my head. They are the best and they are so respectful of what I’m trying to produce; they, for the most part, play the parts I write for them. When they have something to add, I trust them totally that we add it (or at least audition it). There are absolutely no egos on either side, we pull together as a family with that one goal.
Where do you draw influence and inspiration from for your work?
The biggest influence on this album has to be the current state of the world in regards to politics. In the last few years we’ve watched shock results in terms of new presidents, parties and world leaders, we’ve experienced the ‘protest’ vote being the weapon of choice for the public, but with slim pickings for leaders that we can believe in, we’ve been left with a nightmare situation. The concept behind the new album ‘Cowboys & Africans’ is that all humans originate from Africa (at one point in history) so as laymen, we are all ‘Africans’. The ‘Cowboys’ reference is to the people in positions of power, who take advantage of the everyday person (or those they have power over). The songs challenge how we see ourselves in today’s society. The message is quite simple – be proud of who you are, your friends, family and fellow humans. Stand up for what you believe in and have the confidence not to be bullied by peer pressure or general opinion.
If you could collaborate with anybody going forward, who would you choose and why?
David Byrne, he’s still so creative, fresh and has the amazing ability to keep surprising us with what he does next. You could only be inspired by working with him and he’d bring out something inside you, you didn’t knew you had as a result!
Tell us a random, funny fact about you that not many people know.
I used to have a Prog Rock band called “Ze Batemans” and I wore a cape on stage (I was young and needed the money).
Do you have definitive aims or goals for your career?
I just want to keep making music and play it to everyone and anyone who’ll listen. If I could do that all the time, I’ve won!
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
Playing my music everywhere and anywhere that’ll have me, and releasing more new music.
What should we expect from you in the coming weeks and months?
The release of the full “Cowboys & Africans” album, more live videos of the band playing it and live shows!