Looking back at Saskwatch’s indie-soul legacy

Looking back at Saskwatch’s indie-soul legacy

Photo: Giulia McGauran
Words by Annie-Mei Forster

From busking on the streets of Melbourne to hitting the stage at Glastonbury, Saskwatch’s rise has been stratospheric.

After ten years of making music, Melbourne indie-soul band Saskwatch are calling it quits – but not before one final round of shows to say goodbye to their beloved fans. With hundreds of live shows and four albums under their belts, we decided to revisit some of the band’s achievements over the past decade.

The band, whose members met at uni, got their break when PBS soul DJ legend, Vince Peach, heard them busking outside Flinders Street Station and gave them a weekly slot at Cherry Bar’s Soul in the Basement. Their residency at Cherry Bar lasted three years and saw the band accrue a rabid fan base.

In 2012 they released their first album Leave It All Behind, including tracks like ‘Don’t Wanna Try’ and ‘Your Love’ – now staples of their live sets. Trumpeter Liam McGorry was the mastermind behind the album, penning its music and lyrics, while the blasting horns, spirited rhythms and powerful vocals of frontwoman Nkechi Anele really ensured the band made their mark on the music scene.

The success of their debut album saw Saskwatch billed for Golden Plains, Byron Bay’s Bluesfest and Edinburgh Festival, not to mention UK’s iconic Glastonbury. The only problem was financing their travels.

The nine-piece opted to crowdfund their trip to the UK, rewarding donors with signed merch, personalised mixtapes and a dress worn onstage by Anele. The band raised enough money to get themselves and their equipment to Glastonbury, as well as a few other shows, including Spain’s BlackisBack festival.

Saskwatch’s sophomore album, Nose Dive saw a maturation of the band’s sound, with standouts including ‘A Love Divine’ and ‘Born To Break Your Heart’. Where Leave It All Behind was carefree and light-hearted, Nose Dive was all heartbreak and apologies.

“I think that kind of maturity is what Liam’s trying to bring across in our new album. We really wanted Saskwatch to be thought of as a serious band – that we weren’t just around to play at parties,” Anele said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2014.

A shake-up saw the horn section pruned back, leaving six in the band. Saskwatch went on to release two more albums, Sorry I Let It Come Between Us (2015) and Manual Override (2017).

Though they may be parting ways, Saskwatch won’t be leaving the music scene for good. Anele will remain at the helm of triple j’s Roots N All on Monday nights, a three-hour segment beginning at 10pm exploring contemporary folk, world music, blues and reggae.

As well as hosting Roots N All, Anele also heads a website alongside her friend Lucie Cutting, both of Nigerian-Australian background, which looks to provide a platform where questions about race, identity and culture within the scope of Australia can be discussed openly.

Although this is the end of Saskwatch, it’s also the beginning of a new chapter for the band members who stayed until the end. The band has brought immeasurable joy, dance parties and smiles to all who saw them in the early, sticky-floored days at Cherry Bar until now. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for them post-Saskwatch.

Saskwatch will bring their ‘Say Goodbye’ tour to The Curtin from Wednesday October 23 until Saturday October 26. Tickets for Wednesday and Thursday’s shows are still available, grab them here.