Soja in harmony with reggae’s roots
HEN modern-day artists hypnotise their audience through music, it’s often about sleeping with models, making millions and consuming things.
But not for Jacob Hemphill, frontman of eightpiece US reggae band Soja. He wants to use his microphone as a tool to reverse this image.
Hemphill believes the human race is in a race.
‘‘The race we are in is going to kill each other,’’ he says.
Hemphill isn’t the kind to preach between songs when he’s on stage. He has a different way of doing things.
‘‘I want my music to brainwash the younger generation to save the Earth,’’ he says.
‘‘I make the songs sound pretty and I put it in the most beautiful package possible. I want to be in people’s heads and their cars every day, singing words that could change the world if it got deeper into their psychology.’’
Hemphill believes the goal of life is to find out how to coexist and move together in one direction.
‘‘It’s about learning to live with the environment. Consumption is such a big problem,’’ he says.
‘‘For me, the main change I can make is through a microphone. I don’t get preachy on stage. You just have to listen to the lyrics. It’s an innocent way of brainwashing.’’
Soja – aka Soldiers Of Jah Army – have been making music together since 1997.
Hemphill met bassist Bob Jefferson in first grade and found the rest of his bandmates in their high school years. It was during those years that Hemphill discovered reggae.
‘‘Reggae music spoke out to us. Bob Marley is the face of freedom around the world. Bob Marley created a powerful tool,’’ he says. In fact, Hemphill idolises Marley. ‘‘I believe in what he’s talking about and I believe I know what he was trying to do,’’ he says.
‘‘He was trying to unify the African people. He realised unless they were together they could not accomplish what they could do. I have the same message but it’s for the human race. We need to work together.’’
Soja play opening night and Good Friday shows at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm from March 28 to April 1, and the Coolangatta Hotel, with Current Swell, on April 4.
US reggae band Soja – aka Soldiers Of Jah Army.