Randa Khamis is concerned about the state of the world. This Palestinan-born Aussie, who fronts soul outfit, Randa and the Soul Kingdom, maybe has more reason than most to be concerned, given the politics of her land of origin on top of living on a planet that faces being overwhelmed by climate change, among other things. But is she bowed by the weight of all this? Not a chance!
Here’s a band that’s got power-packed music that just makes you want to dance your troubles away.
Outwardly, Khamis is as upbeat as you could ever find a human being. When Around The Sound met with her in a Leederville eatery she was revelling in the sunshine, all smiles, designer shades and looking very relaxed. Why? Because Khamis and her colleagues, The Soul Kingdom, have reason to celebrate. They’re just about to bestow on the world their latest single, ‘Put Your Hands Up’ on seven-inch vinyl no less, with a B-side instrumental version of the track, “For the DJs across the world who love to play our music,” Khamis told us.
“The reason I’ve done it this way is because I already knew we had a following from DJs around the world, so I wanted to cater for them for starters, and I just love vinyl. I mean, who doesn’t? I’m obsessed with vinyl and people can’t get enough of vinyl. You can’t beat the sound and the texture. It feels good, it sounds good and it looks good. It’s what we are, we are retro, so it suits our music.”
Khamis is right, Randa and the Soul Kingdom are retro through and through, from the look to the sound of their music and their on-stage demeanour. But that doesn’t mean they lack relevance or the capacity to innovate. They’re probably as relevant today as ever and, with their third album, Standing Strong, due to be released soon, they’re beginning to warm up the world to their sound all over again.
Really, it’s been too long between albums for Randa and the Soul Kingdom, but only because the world needs their goodness.
“It’s been a long time coming and it’s well and truly overdue,” said Khamis, “so we’re putting everything we can into it, because you only get one shot at releasing music.”
Asked about the music on the upcoming record (we’re assuming it will be delivered as 12” of vinyl goodness), Khamis told us, “One of the songs on the album that got nominated for a WAM Song of the Year Award, ‘2048’, is one that I really like talking about, because it pays homage to my Palestinian origins and it’s a song where I’ve been able to merge something that’s Arabic, a Middle Eastern pipe, and bring it into an Afrobeat soul song. That’s what I really like about that song. And it talks about climate change and how we’re running out of time. Scientists are predicting that by 2048, if we keep going the way that we are there will be no fish left in the sea, but it turned into a song you can dance to as well.”
See, even when they’re doing politics, it’s all about the dance. It’s a truly beautiful thing that Randa and the Soul Kingdom do.
And the new single?
“There are other songs on the album that are dance oriented, like ‘Put Your Hands Up’, the single, that’s purely for the dance floor, which is really about your right to express yourself and dance like nobody’s watching regardless of your age, race, ethnicity, your gender, your sexual preference. It’s bringing the movement of now and bringing to it a 1970s vibe. The song is designed to make you dance.”
So not purely for the dance floor, then, but we get the drift. Here’s a band that’s got power-packed music that just makes you want to dance your troubles away. We could think of far less constructive ways to solve the world’s problems.
As for Khamis herself, she was a musician from the moment she was born.
“I knew I needed to be a singer from a very early age, from as young as I can remember, probably four or five years of age. In know kids have those dreams when they’re little, but mine just never left, it just never went away. It was something that every fibre and cell in my body knew that I just have to do this.”
Times have been tough for Khamis and her band, there have been a lot of highs and lows along the way, but they couldn’t even contemplate doing anything else. When we asked Khamis, if as a kid she’d had the choice instead of being born that way, would she have still taken the same path, her immediate response was, “Yes, absolutely.”
That’s just one reason why you need to check out Randa and the Soul Kingdom. One of many.
Rand and the Soul Kingdom are on tour in October, taking in the following dates:
- 4 October, The Sewing Room, Perth
- 10 October, The Espy, Melbourne
- 11 October, Bar 303, Darebin
More details and tickets here.