Bonjah’s David Morgan: “It’s A Great Time To Be Independent”

Melbourne-based four-piece Bonjah returned to the scene earlier this year after taking a two-and-a-half year break since releasing their 2011 record, Go Go Chaos. This time they’ve come back swinging, hitting the road with their most upbeat and rock-influenced record yet, the aptly titled Beautiful Wild.

Produced by Jan Skubiszewski, best known for working with Way Of The Eagle, John Butler Trio, and The Cat Empire, and mastered by Steve Smart (Empire Of The Sun) at Studios 301, Beautiful Wild has been a resounding success for this small, independent rock band.

Music Feeds caught up with Bonjah bassist David Morgan who let us in on the reason for the band’s sound progression, the inspiration behind the record and what it’s like to be an independent band in Australia.

Watch: Bonjah – Honey


Music Feeds: Bonjah are in the middle of an extensive Australian tour with your latest album Beautiful Wild, how is it all going?

David Morgan: It’s going great thanks! We’ve played a couple sold out club shows in Melbourne so far and the crowds seem to really like the new tunes.

MF: Musically there’s a definite shift on this record towards a rock-centric and upbeat sound, was that a deliberate stylistic choice?

DM: Yeah. We wanted to make an up beat fun record that we would want to put on at a party and feel comfortable with the vibe it would set.

MF: Are fans responding well to the progression?

DM: We’ve been blessed with some really loyal followers and they all seem to be enjoying it. We’ve picked up a few new ones along the way too.

MF: There was quite a bit of time between the release of Go Go Chaos and Beautiful Wild, what happened in that time that inspired the record? Did it take that long to craft a new direction?

DM: A lot of different personal things went on in that time. We all felt like a little break after Go Go so we took some time out. It took a little longer to get the song writing juices flowing but once it started we were on. We always knew which direction we wanted to go.

MF: Jan Skubiszewski of Way Of The Eagle produced this album, what was it that he brought to the project?

DM: Jan is an absolute gentleman and a great pleasure to work with. He took our songs, believed in them, and then moulded them into what they are now. He knew when to tweak and offer suggestions and when to sit back and let us do our thing.

On top of that, he has a great ear, is extremely talented on multiple instruments and has a great knowledge of how to create the right sounds in the studio. He’s all class.

MF: There’s a touching story behind your track, Evolution. Can you tell us about

DM: This young woman came up to me after a show in Rye and started talking about how our music had saved her life. I didn’t think too much of it, thanked her and then she grabbed my hand and looked right in my eyes and proceeded to say how she had struggled through life in her teens and that she was in some really dark places, really close to taking her own life and she said she discovered our music.

It resonated with her on a level that got her out of the darkness, she got back on track and ended up going travelling. She held my hand through out the whole thing and kept repeating “seriously though, your music actually saved my life.” It was really moving and then Regan said she’d done the same thing to him, we told the band and Moz wrote a song.

Watch: Bonjah – Evolution

MF: You also collaborated with Ella Hooper on this record, how did that come about?

DM: 123 Agency look after both of our bookings and Jan has also worked with her in the studio a bit so we had an idea for a female vocalist in a song and Jan suggested Ella. It was great. We love Ella she’s a great artist and friend.

MF: The music video for Honey was shot and edited in the space of 24 hours, which is such a huge feat. Can you tell us about that whole process and the inspiration behind the clip?

DM: We tried to shoot a clip with a little kid who can pull some serious dance moves but working with children is hard and he didn’t want to dance on the day so we were left with a deadline and no clip.

Moz took his camera into his basement and 24hrs later he sent it through to us. He say’s its kind of reflective of where his head was at when he wrote the song. I think it’s his best work yet.

MF: You guys are known for being a hard-working independent band, do you feel positive about the opportunities available to independent artists in Australia?

DM: Absolutely. There are a lot of options out there for DIY bands these days. The support for that type of structure is growing. It’s exciting to see things like the AIR Global Music grant and the huge successes independent bands are achieving. It’s a great time to be independent.

MF: You’ve mentioned previously that Bonjah have aspirations to expand your fanbase internationally through some solid touring overseas, is that still a goal for you?

DM: Yep. We’re linking up with a few people overseas and are hoping to make another trip in 2015.

MF: What’s on the cards over the next few months?

Lots of shows! We’re heading all around the country to play the new album, it’s going to f#ckn awesome!

Watch: Bonjah – Blue Tone Black Heart

Bonjah’s latest album, ‘Beautiful Wild’, is available now. The band are currently in the midst of their most extensive national tour yet – see all the details below.

Bonjah Australian Tour Dates

Saturday, 26th July 2014

Darwin Fringe Fest – Railway Club, Darwin, NT

Tickets: Ticketbooth

Thursday, 7th August 2014

Spirit Bar, Traralgon, VIC

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Tully on Tully & Lobes of Julia

Saturday, 9th August 2014

The Union, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Tickets: Via TryBooking

w/Lyall Mullony

Thursday, 14th August 2014

Northshore Tavern, Whitfords, WA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Anna O

Friday, 15th August 2014

Indi Bar, Scarborough, WA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Anna O

Saturday, 16th August 2014

Amplifier, Perth, WA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Anna O & Riley Pierce

Sunday, 17th August 2014

Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough, WA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Anna O

Saturday, 30th August 2014

Pirie Social Club, Adelaide, SA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Al Parkinson

Friday, 5th September 2014

Hotel New York, Launceston, TAS

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/The Middle Names

Saturday, 6th September 2014

Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/The Middle Names

Wednesday, 10th September & Thursday, 11th September 2014

Big Sound, Brisbane QLD

Tickets: Via QMusic

Saturday, 13th September 2014

Originals Music Festival, Noosa, QLD

Tickets: Via Originals Music Festival

Friday, 19th September 2014

Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Tickets: Via Newtown Social Club

w/Timberwolf & Lester The Fierce

Saturday, 20th September 20114

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Heart Attack & Vine, & Ace Elefant

Friday, 26th September 2014

Divers Tavern, Broome, WA

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/31/2 Men & Tanya Ransom

Friday, 3rd October 2014

Torquay Hotel, Torquay, VIC

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/The Kite Machine

Saturday, 4th October 2014

Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Animaux & Tully On Tully

Friday, 10th October 2014

The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

Tickets: Via Oztix

w/Bec Laughton & Team Utopia

Saturday, 10th October 2014

Racecourse Hotel, Ipswich, QLD

Tickets: On the Door

Sunday, 12th October 2014

Surfers Beer Garden, Surfers Paradise, QLD

Tickets: On the Door

Friday, 24th October 2014

Byron Bay Surf Festival, Byron Bay, NSW

Tickets: Via Byron Bay Surf Festival

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