Ofa Fanaika of Chocolate Strings: “We’re kind of superstars in our own little way”

chocolate strings

BRISBANE funk/reggae/soul collective Chocolate Strings have just released a new single, and it’s a smooth and delicious taste of things to come, says singer-guitarist Ofa Fanaika.

“’Playing Pretend’ is a double A-side single with another track called ‘Polyamory’,” she says. “It’ll be part of an album that we’re looking to release in September or later in the year. We’ve recorded maybe eight tracks at this point, and we’re just working out what sort of journey we want to take our listeners on and what best represents where we’re at now. We’re going to try to capture that on the album.”

The song features the band’s trademark collision of genres and a soulful vocal by Nia Falekakala.

“It started with a guitar riff I’d been mucking around with, and the vocalist on that particular track wrote the lyrics for it,” Fanaika says. “The essence of the song is about being genuine and upfront, and saving yourself the drama of wishing you had done something right at the beginning, hence the name ‘Playing Pretend’. We were recording a bunch of tracks and it just seemed like the one that stuck out the most, and after other people had heard it, it ended up being a favourite.”

The band has eight members pitching in ideas, so when asked if everyone agrees on everything, Fanaika laughs.

“No comment! No, we’ve been doing this for a pretty long time and we’re pretty upfront with stuff. We don’t like to beat around the bush when it comes to things that are best for the songs, so we don’t actually have a lot of fights. A lot of the time we’re playing songs live before we’ve recorded them, so we can run through the process that way, and decide if it’s something we can put down.”

Firm roots in Brisbane’s creative community has helped the band develop and grow.

“I’m pretty proud to be a West End citizen,” Fanaika says. “It’s a lot different to most other suburbs in Brisbane. It’s a particularly creative community and inclusive of artists, and a real imaginarium of people that are thinking about expression. We can bounce ideas off other people who are doing a similar thing in whatever creative thing they’re promoting, and a lot of concepts cross over; the artistic, music and community worlds. In West End, our networks are shared amongst other like-minded people, so for every person who likes Chocolate Strings, they tell ten other people. In this neighbourhood, we’re kind of superstars in our own little way, and that’s kind of a nice thing.”


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