Travel with chozun

Travel Profile: Navigating the World Through Music With Senita Appiakorang

Senita Appiakorang is the lead vocalist of Shookrah, a neo-soul/R&B outfit from Cork, Ireland.  Synth-drenched, groove heavy and vocally-driven, their sound is undoubtedly part of the new wave of ‘Future Soul’, sitting alongside acts such as Hiatus Kaiyote and Thundercat. Their latest EP Cliches is the band at their best, and bodes well for their upcoming album that is expected in early 2019.
With the band about to embark on some festival slots around their home country of Ireland, Senita spoke to us about travelling as a musician, how it inspires her music and what’s next.
Places been: 
– Ireland (lives)
– South Africa – Cape Town, Bloemfontein, East London, Johannesburg
– Lesotho – Maseru
– Ghana- Accra
– England- Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, London, 
– Scotland – Edinburgh
– Spain- Barcelona, Fuerte Ventura, Tarifa, Seville
– Denmark- Copenhagen
– New Zealand – Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Waiheke Island, Coromondel
Going to next:
– Paris, France.
Ultimate travel tip:
Don’t seek out familiar things in new places, do at least one really far from your ordinary thing wherever you go.

You’re about to play a number of festivals around Ireland. Is touring with a band something you’ve done much of?

We are indeed, and are really looking forward to it- we love playing in new places. We have had two significant tours over the last couple of years, we did a mini tour around the time of our first EP (Implicit Content) with another Irish funk band called Zaska and we most recently supported Billy Ocean on the Irish leg of his European tour.  Both times were super fun and insightful, and quite different to travelling for individual gigs.We are in the middle of writing our album which will see some releases this year and our first headline tour, which is very exciting. We have a lot of sick songs to show everyone and want to make it as unique a type of show to Shookrah as we can.

 

In your experience, how does travelling as a musician impact on the experience? Does it become more business travel, or do you fit some leisure time in?

It’s a unique kind of experience really, and I guess it depends on how far you are going. How you plan to travel is hinged on the time you have to get there and how and sound check times and doing all the necessary things you need to to be in form for performing for people goes, which can always be interesting in terms of balancing ones energy. I personally enjoy the opportunity to do so as much as we can and think there’s valuable learning in travelling a lot as a band that we need to adapt to if we want to progress to the level we want to be at. I would be on the organising side of things and where we would have made pointed trips and tried to return straight home after them, we are getting better at determining where to take time to be somewhere and rest and check things out and where it’s feasible to try and save costs by getting back to Cork. Where and how leisure happens often is dictated upon by the situation of the  gig, but when we go further out in the country I centre what I see around nice food places and cultural activities not too far from the venue or our accommodation just to try and catch something of  a vibe where we are.

 

What experiences does being a musician open up for you when travelling?

Well the obvious one is sharing our music with people and connecting with people on a personal level through our gigs, that’s one that we really get a buzz from and  hope to leave with people. We get a direct life line to the mood of a place when interacting with gig crowds, or place specific nuances, or at least gain a better understanding as to the lay of the land by how people react to our music and performance. It’s amazing to read how the reaction and general demeanour of a crowd can reflect the mentality of a society even if by juxtaposition of it. Recreationally, we get the advantage of immediately being exposed to venues or a music scene that usually caters to our interests and meeting like minded people who can offer tips on other cool things to do in that way. There’s definitely more scope for making friends and having ‘the craic’ (fun), because we’re all together and are friends, so the dynamic can welcome more adventure or mischief than travelling alone might do.

 

There’s been a lot said recently about how hard it is becoming for bands and artists to travel due to costs. Do you think it’s still a viable option for a band to tour regularly? 

It’s definitely a challenge to make it profitable, but it can definitely be worth it or feasible. I think you have to be very aware of the economic climate of music on a whole, of the location as well and the culture of gig attendance in the places where you plan to perform, because it can really differ significantly from place to place. There are ways around not losing too much money or having a band kittie/fund that facilitates that touring in itself that everyone contributes to, but it takes some serious research, planning and discussion on how you are going to get a crowd to come; eg. how to price it, how to promote it, what kinds of sets suit what crowd and how to generate extra money with merchandise. Social media is integral to music these days and getting traction for your music and the stuff you’re doing, and we are progressively learning the tricks of the trade and how to gauge what’s going to suit our band. There was a time when we would gig the same spots a lot and while it was fun for us, we learned that you have to create an occasion around when you gig, and you have to allow people to get excited enough to leave their houses ( in the likely to be pissing rain) to come and see you. It’s basically like being schooled on how to get past the Tinder conversations stage to going on a real date…who knows, maybe we’ll all experience true love.

  

Do you find travel (personal, business or otherwise) to have an impact on your music? If so, how?

For sure, I love going to gigs in new places and seeing what people like to get down to or what the calibre of music is like there. Broadly speaking, I would say travel impacts my music or productivity of making music in that I get more time to think, or write or take stock of my surroundings and influence the narratives with it. I don’t drive, so I’m usually a passenger going to places, when I’m not walking and/or cycling somewhere and that’s plenty of stimulated meditative time, just letting new surroundings sink into my memory and colour my mood with different ideas. I’m currently in New Zealand for the first time visiting family and friends and it’s the furthest point in the world I’ve gone to on my own and that definitely comes with an emotional response, be it fear, excitement, curiosity, love…and that informs the kinds of melodies I’ve been singing to myself, the kind of clarity I have had as to the music I want to next write and whom with.

 

What trip has had the greatest impact on you and your music?

I went to South Africa a couple of years ago to visit where I was born and I hadn’t been there for 15 years ago at that stage, so it was a big trip for me. It was a homecoming, a lineage finding and heart warming and straightening trip, and our last EP was written in its aftermath, which has also led to many great things. That trip definitely gave me a huge sense of perspective as to my origins, existing familial ties, the privileges I had benefited and taken for granted and the richness of my heritage. It also gave me a lot of time and room to figure out stuff about growing up, personal dilemmas and what I really wanted to see happen for myself in the following years. Songs like ‘Gerascophobia’, Cliches Pt 2, they were more introvert discussions with myself on how I was living and where my mind was at and how to better nurture my selfhood, and cultivate the kind of future I would like to enjoy. I think I gained a certain sensibility or purpose from the trip and it still acts as a reminder for me now.

You can listen Shookrah on Bandcamp, YouTube and all the regular streaming services.
To stay in the loop on everything tour related, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and their website.

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