Interview with Yinka from Sabatta

After an exuberating performance, Ragged CULT caught up with Yinka, lead singer of Sabatta.

How long has this current line up of the band been together?

“For the last two years Adriano has played drums, he’s Italian, from Rome. He is always moaning about the food in England. When we were recently in Bacoli, near Naples, he went food-crazy and couldn’t stop eating his favourite dish, spaghetti vongole. He’s like the philosopher; he takes his time and is laid back about life, plus he’s really funny. I’m a lil hyper, so it’s good to have that kind of vibe present. Debbie is our bassist; she’s from Deptford and she’s British Nigerian like myself. She is never satisfied in music or life, in a good way. She has incredible musical timing, which is something you can’t teach. She joined after Adriano, back in March 2015.”

How would you describe your music?

“We make Grunge Soul and everything that you can imagine in between those two poles.”

Which bands would you say have influenced your music?

“Our music is linked to bands like: Living Colour (an American Rock band formed in 1985) and Death (a Detroit band formed in 1971, which presaged Punk and are often considered to be the first Punk band in musical history). We have undertones of R&B and Neo Soul, with definite influences of the late music innovator and multi-instrumentalist, Prince. Then, there’s elements of Parliament-Funkadelic (the rock collective headed by George Clinton) pioneer of a music genre dubbed P-Funk.”

Why do audiences often link you to rock icon, Jimmy Hendrix?

“It’s often been the case that after gigs, members of the audience have approached us, with their hand over heart saying how reminiscent we are of Hendrix. It’s a privilege to be associated with Hendrix. DJ’s often play Hendrix after our gigs. We have a lot of energy and are very loud. It’s really going hit you, from a sonic level, visually and from the composition of our songs.”

What are your live shows like?

“A lot of the time you will go to a gig and sing along to the songs; you will love the gig, the gig’s amazing, but it’s because you know the songs and the artist. But the actual show might not be all of that … or you see a festival band they get the party up, but once you’ve left the venue you can’t remember a song. However, you do remember you’ve had a good time. We kind of have both of those things, we leave with fans, they like the songs, the show, so they get. “It’s not an act, that’s me … genuine raw energy”.

Summarise what’s been happening with the band in the last six months?

“These past six months we have really turned it up with the gigging, we gig at least three times a month, including gigs abroad. People have started approaching us when we do shows and organisers want us to do more shows. You know it’s funny, I used to try and be clever about it, but I’ve realised that with a band like ours, the best thing you can do is just play, and people start to take notice. There isn’t anything like us out there.”

How do you think bands are navigating through the current music scene?

“There are a lot of good bands who are enjoyable to see but, in my opinion, everything has gone a bit Simon Cowell. Before the rise in TV-talent shows, everyone would want to do something themselves. Now, everybody just wants instant fame … talent shows and TV is the route people are taking. It’s like an assumed blueprint to success! There are not many originals and we are originals. I think it’s the same ole same ole, you have to go back to the old-school methods.”

How has social media affected the way you build awareness of your band?

“Social media has changed things, but it doesn’t change humans at the core … it’s always at the 10th degree, it’s magnified. So, people will say things like ‘get on the Internet’, or ‘get your Instagram and Twitter account sorted’. All of that’s not going to make you, especially if you are original. You still have to do the legwork, if you’re doing something real.”

Tell us a little bit about your album ‘Middle of the Night’?

“It’s loosely based on someone like me, a musician and artist who exists and lives in London, but it could be any other big city. I mixed (the album) in Peckham, in the middle of many nights. I would cycle from Elephant & Castle, South London and then I’d come back  to Peckham at 3am after finishing a mixing session.”

You debuted your acting career in a film called, “A moving Image”, a film about gentrification in London and across the globe. Can you tell us about your character?

“My character is called Big Ben, I’m like the spirit of Brixton. For those who remember or want to research it, I found inspiration from the character Radio Raheem from Spike lee’s classic ‘Do the Right Thing;’ that’s essentially my character. The producer, Rienkje Attoh, won a BFI award for the film and the film won a Black Star Film Festival Award in Philadelphia, the Narrative Prize. I play and sing one of our tracks in it; it’s called,Sometimes These South London Streets Remind Me of Brooklyn, which is out now.”

How did you manage to actually get the role in the film?

“I got into the film after doing a show in Peckham, London at The Bussey Building. The director saw me at that show, which was part of The Peckham and Nunhead Film Festival. Then, about a year later, he saw me in Tesco and was like, ‘You’re Yinka’. I thought, who is this … he explained and asked if I act. I said I do a bit, and the rest is history.”

What challenges did you have to overcome to perform your role as the character, Big Ben?

“There were two ways the role could have panned out. One was that my character, Ben, was a guy who was a drunk; I refused to play this role, as I felt I didn’t want to depict that character. However, there was an alternative character similar to the Do the Right Thing character, Radio Raheem. I went with that character instead and the director agreed. Acting is so hard. It’s a meat market; it’s not how good an actor you are that determines how successful you become … a lot of it’s to do with image, luck and timing. You just have to do what you do and just chill out, work hard, but not be stressed doing it. I got a job just from smiling … the director said, ‘you’ve got a great smile’, and I got the job … I don’t even smile that much, but in that instance it paid off.”

What do you want to achieve in the near future?

“I want to be interviewed in newspapers and be on TV shows, but, right now, our objective is to promote the band.  To try to get as many people as we can behind us. That’s what every band should want. Seeing people’s faces, their reactions, engaging with the audience and inciting emotions.  So that people come out saying, ‘Your music touched my heart.’ Which band wouldn’t love a reaction like that?”

Sabatta’s album ‘Middle of the Night’ and their single ‘Sometimes These Streets Remind me of Brooklyn’ featured in the film, are on all the major platforms.

By Martina Johnson

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