Relish Festival

By Joshua Eckersley

Winston Surfshirt are heading to Bellingen for the Relish Music & Arts Festival in Sept/Oct. We sat down with the funky front man for a chat about his new music, and his new family…

Six-piece Sydney R&B band, Winston Surfshirt, has been pumping out hit songs and building a huge following, ever since their debut album, Sponge Cake, was released in 2017. Their breakthrough single, ‘Be About You’, introduced their feel-good vibes, and showcased a depth of musical talent, and style that sets the band apart. The eponymous front man, Winston, mixes chilled rapping with soulful singing, bringing to mind the cool stylings of Mac Miller, and the vocal prowess of Mark Foster (Foster the People). The band, which also comprises of Bustlip (beats), The Bone (trombone), Bik Julio (bass), Dool (keyboards) and Mi-K (guitar), clearly have a deep well of musical knowledge that suggests they’ve studied every soul record from 1960 onwards.

Their latest single, ‘Maybe I’m In Love With You’, is an upbeat and optimistic track about the all-engrossing effect that love can have on someone. The band wrote the song in just a couple of days, whilst on tour, with the elements coming together almost too easily.

“We’d just gone to London to tour, just before covid hit, and we had the idea”, Winston recalls. “Bustlip made the drum beat and then Bone made that crazy horn line. The words were done the next morning, and we recorded it straight away.”

The song features a verse from hip-hop legend, Talib Kweli, a collaboration which took the band quite by surprise. “Me and the boys all wrote a list of dream feature-artists that we’d like on that song. Talib was on everyone’s list, so we put him at the top and just sent it to him. We thought; this is never going to happen, but it came back in a couple of weeks, fully done.”

At the time, Winston’s pending entry into fatherhood provided much of the lyrical inspiration, mixed in with his overall love for his family. He remembers, “I knew I had a baby coming, a little girl, so I started writing a love song for my baby. But then, it turned into a love song for my lady instead. It turned into (being about) family, my wife, and that type of thing. “

Now, with the Relish Music & Arts Festival just around the corner, Winston and the boys are keen as mustard to show their fans what they’ve been working on over the last two years.

“There will definitely be more new music. We’ll be playing some new songs and some covers, and we’ll be  having a fun time.” It is obvious Winston is eager to let his hair down, as he continues, “We love playing festivals. I’ve recently had a kid, so I’ve just been a dad most of this time, and just sitting at home making music. Now we are finally getting out there to play it all, it’s going to be fun.”

With so much happening at Relish, it will be hard to choose what to do first. Punters can energise their soul with some yoga, massage therapy, or sweat lodge sessions on offer.

Once you’ve cleansed your karmic energy, there will be local food vendors, craft beers and cocktails to help the musical celebrations last long into the night. Winston is already making plans to soak in as much of the carefree festival atmosphere as he roars with excitement, “How fun! We will definitely find time to walk around the grounds and see what we can do. We’ll get some drinks and get a bit tipsy at some point, before we play. There are a few bands that we’ll want to catch as well.”

So don’t be surprised if you see the band wandering through the enchanted bamboo forest, with cocktail in hand, looking for the main stage on Friday night. Winston Surfshirt will be joined by Ash Grunwald, The Black Seeds, Mo’Ju, Tijuana Cartel, and many more.

WHAT Relish Music & Arts Festival
WHERE Homelands, Bellingen
WHEN 30 Sept – 2 Oct