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SAFIA to headline an all-Canberra line-up at Googfest

SAFIA are spending more time on the road these days, but will head home to headline an all-Canberra line-up at Googfest, a free mini music festival at Googong in February.

Band members Ben Woolner, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers grew up together in Canberra, and still spend a lot of time in the city between tours.

SAFIA expects to play before a crowd of more than 10,000 people at Googfest.
SAFIA expects to play before a crowd of more than 10,000 people at Googfest. Photo: Supplied

"I like it especially even more now," Woolner says.

"It's a good place to grow up. It's super chilled, still got a little bit of kind of city vibe. I think, growing up as a band, there was always the mindset that you had to go to Melbourne or something if you wanted to try and make it, but then the internet kind of grew and things started happening organically.

"The more we started touring and doing it, the more I actually liked Canberra as well, coming home … There's not a lot of industry or stuff here, so it's a good place to write and get stuff done."

Growing up and going to school together, Woolner, Bell and Sayers formed a lot bands over the years.

"Rock bands and stuff," Woolner says. "I think we went through every kind of band sub-genre. We tried everything. We got to a point where we'd been playing for a couple of years, and it just felt like we wanted to experiment with something else. We'd done a lot with, like, what do you do with a guitar and bass and a drum kit?"

It was then that they heard Skrillex.

"We used to have this stigma about electronic music beforehand. We didn't listen to a lot of it, but hearing Skrillex was crazy, because he came from a metal background so that early dubstep stuff and the stuff he does now has, like, a really strong base in metal and rock music," Woolner says.

"So it appealed to us. It was crazy, and I have no idea how he was making those sounds, so we all started trying to make stuff like that after we heard it. We didn't know what we were doing at the time because we came from that rock background, so just making it for fun and hanging out and making tunes and playing computer games and stuff like that, and it kind of grew from there."

From that point, it was thanks to the internet that SAFIA managed to get themselves heard.

"We decided to just put one of them up on triple j Unearthed, and we didn't think much of it. It was up there for, like, two months, and then after two months, I think it got played on triple j, and then it was a big surprise. That gave us a big confidence boost to, like, maybe if we keep trying at this, we can kind of build something."

They set themselves a list of goals, which they have mostly fulfilled.

"It's been crazy," Woolner says. "I didn't think it would happen this quick."

The tipping point was getting the support slot for the Lorde tour. "Opening for her across the country at basically the stage when she was the biggest artist in the world was insane," he says.

"We did our own headline tour before that, playing small clubs, which was really cool. Most of the shows sold out and they were, like, you know, 200, 300 cap, and then jumping from that three weeks later on the Lorde tour to, like, 10,000, that was a crazy thing."

Even more than 10,000 are expected at Googfest, which will also feature sets by Amber Nichols, the Burley Griffin, Guyy​ & the Fox and the Kaleid Trio.

There will also be food vendors at the all-ages event, and free buses will run from Tuggeranong, Woden and Queanbeyan.

GOOGFEST

When: Saturday, February 6, from 5pm

Where: Rockley Oval, Googong

Tickets: Free