Saskwatch are a local Melbourne nine-piece who specialise in a very charming take on soul music, both old and new. Along with The Bamboos, this is very much a band who are bringing the old sounds back and truly making them their own. Gaining attention with the release of their 7″ “I Thought This Was Love”/”Kids” earlier this year, the band have recently played a residency at Melbourne’s legendary Cherry Bar. They have also released their latest 7″, Don’t Wanna Try”/Pushing Me Away.”

Particularly on “Pushing Me Away”, the band truly recall great bands from past eras via the beautiful and striking sound they achieve. What is so likeable about Saskwatch is that they are doing their own thing with what has gone before, not merely settling for being a musical photocopy, which is a lazy trap that so many new bands can fall into. Saskwatch, going on what the public have heard so far, have a beautiful grasp of that late 60s/early 70s kind of funk. “Don’t Wanna Try”, with its gorgeous keyboard riff and beautifully used brass section, as a great place to start with this band.

The band also feature a truly striking female vocalist in the form of Nikechi Anele, with her wonderfully expressive voice. We’re talking that big, ballsy female voice you rarely hear these days. Think Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin or, more recently, Lisa Kekaula from The Bellrays. While excellent musicans in their own right, it really is Anele’s voice that takes this band to a wonderful higher ground.

Saskwatch are playing some shows later this month in Melbourne at The Worker’s Club. Tone Deaf’s Neil Evans recently spoke to trumpet player Liam McGorry from the band. Liam also plays with Melbourne’s Eagle & The Worm, a band that are kindred spririts for Saskwatch in regards to formative sources of inspiration.

“Saskwatch formed in 2009, mainly stemming from a collective of friends who were studying music at the Victoria Acadamey Of The Arts and Monash University,” says McGorry. “It was very much a case of shared interests and passions in music. Soul music, to me, has a very down to earth, unpretentious and honest quality to it on both a musical and lyrical level. I have always found that utterly inspiring as far as music is concerned.”

One of the most striking things that Saskwatch has done so far in their short career is release singles on the good old fashioned 7″ vinyl format, something of a lost art form in the technologically overleaded day and age. “We have always wanted to do this,” says Mc Gorry. “There’s something so old fasioned and honest about the concept of the vinyl single, not to mention that tactile quailty in regards to holding that record and the smell of vinyl. To me, that’s part of the whole package with soul music. It’s also great for DJs to play, whether it be in clubs, like when we had our residency on Soul Night at Cherry Bar, or Chris Gill, who presents the soul show Get Down! on radio station RRR.”

The month long residency that the band has had recently at Cherry Bar has also helped to spread the word in regards to exposure for Saskwatch. “That’s been one of my highlights so far. It was a wonderful experience to build and audience and become more comfortable with each other as a musical unit over that time,” said Mc Gorry.

One of the strongest lynchpins in the sound of Saskwatch is singer Nikeche Anele. “We heard her singing as part of uni. Initially I heard her sing jazz and, subsequently, a number of different musical styles and genres. She has a great flexibility and range in what she sings and how she sings it. I pretty much knew immediately that I wanted to work with her.”

Recently, McGorry’s other band, Eagle & The Worm, have put out a killer remix of their track “All I Know”, featring Juicebox and Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Pretty much the soundtrack for the upcoming summer, this is a fantastic example of an already great song being taken to a higher level. “We met Hynotic when they toured here earlier this year. We ended up meeting them and expressed an interest to work with them in some way. The results turned out even better than we expected,” says McGorry of his other band, who are also making quite a name for themselves at the moment in this country.

“The main focus of Sakswatch is to make our music sound very much of now while still incorporating that of the past,” continues Mc Gorry. “The last thing we want to do is come off sounding derivative or like a bad photocopy of better music that already exists.”

The band have their debut album set for release early in the new year. “The plan is to do a tour across Australia once the album is released. Hopefully, this will lead to more exposure for the band and possibly an overseas tour of some variety.”

See Saskwatch play the Workers Club this Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November, 2011.

-Neil Evans.