Marcus Azon sounds every bit a charming Aussie even over an international call. His five-member Afro- Pop band, Jinja Safari was formed in early 2010 when he met keyboard-player Cameron ‘Pepa’ Knight at a beach party in Australia. They hit it off and started writing songs together. With the addition of Joe Citizen, Jacob Borg and Alister Roach, they began by performing for friends and family, and are now on their way to becoming an international phenomenon.
How did they come up with the name Jinja Safari? “My grandmother lives in the town of Jinja in Uganda. She sent us a lot of African music that we take our inspiration from, hence we named our band after our African connection,” says Azon. The quintet draws from world and folk music, where storytelling is part of songs, for their Afro Pop brand of music. Azon, however, hopes that their music is seen as more than just that. “We don’t see ourselves limited by any genre. Once someone called our music Afro-cosmic Pop and I thought that was quite an apt description.”
It’s perhaps right, therefore, that Knight also plays the Sitar. “Pepa discovered the sitar and uninhibitedly started using it in our shows. Recently we performed in New York and one kid, a trained sitar player, came up to us and told us that head-banging to the sitar without knowing how to play it was not right. So now Pepa hopes to learn it the right way, may be in India,” laughs Azon.
None of the other band members have been to India. But Azon does have an Indian connection. “My father lives in India and works as a minister at a church, travelling across the country to spread the good word.”
And he also knows a little about Indian movies. “In 2007, an Indian movie was being shot at the Gold Coast and I happened to be there. They asked me if I’d be an extra in a Bollywood song and guess what, I did it. So I’d love to find out which movie it was,” he laughs.
The band looks forward to seeing the festival of Diwali during their 12-day stay in India and touring Banglore and Delhi too as a part of the Aussie Barbeque Tour. “Our music is chilled out and vibrant and we hope the Indian audiences like us,” signs off Azon, with a lilt in his voice and butterflies in his tummy.
At: NH7 Weekender, Pune, at the Dewarists Stage, Koregaon Park, Pune. Today at 6 pm
Also at: Hard Rock Cafe, Mumbai, November 7, 8 pm