Sway Jah Vu is a 5 piece Florida-grown alternative reggae band that incorporates soul, jazz, and funk with commanding vocals and hard hitting beats. Their new EP, In the Company of Wolves, will be released on March 29, 2016.With every inspi-reggae song on the new release, Sway Jah Vu continues to urge audiences to practice simplicity, patience and positivity. Sway Jah Vu has performed with legendary reggae acts like The Wailers and Stephen Marley, as well as new wave U.S. reggae bands Passafire, Rebelution and Sublime with Rome.
In the Company of Wolves traverses many contemporary political and social concerns. Wars and proxy wars waged overseas, racism and hate, and human rights issues are the backdrop for the writing on the new EP. Travis Cockerham (guitar, vocals) also became a new dad, pushing these issues even further to the forefront of his mind as he imagined the kind of future his child will have.
The title of the EP emerged from a Cherokee story titled “The Tale of Two Wolves,” which is a deeply treasured story in Cockerham’s father’s family, who are of Native American heritage. Cockerham explains, “In the company of wolves is kind of a double edged sword. On one hand, it's a warning and on the other, it's a call to action.” He continues, “Not only do you have to be cautious of wolves in your presence but also, to a certain extent, you have to think and act like a wolf to thrive in the world that we live in.”
Lyrically, Nahko and Medicine for the People and Mike Love are close brethren to Sway Jah Vu. The artists preach a focus on the self and perception, coupled with forward-thinking mantras touching on acceptance, understanding, and altruism. Hendrix and Joe Bonamassa are influences for the band’s intricate instrumentation and foregrounded guitar work. Most of the experimentation with sound for the new EP came from different guitar recording techniques, like multiple amps, condenser and dynamic mics, and different mic placement.
In the Company of Wolves was recorded at Ethnic House Studios just south of Tallahassee, Florida, and was produced by Julian de la Cruz. Sway Jah Vu, consisting of Cockerham, Logan Pepper (bass), Terrell Sermon (drums, vocals), Paul Adams (keys), and Eric Kennedy (saxophone), formed a tight relationship during the recording of their previous EP, Stealing Secrets. That collection of songs were crafted specifically about addiction and the battles that come with it. "We wanted to give people hope who maybe felt like they had lost it," explains Cockerham.
The new EP represents the group’s maturity and growth as a band, and a willingness to tackle far-reaching, hefty topics in a 5 song release. Sway Jah Vu delivers a tried and true reggae message of activism and awareness to audiences, packaged in a fresh way: “Our country and our world is in a dangerous place. We need be aware of who we are and what's going on around us. People also need to stand up for what they believe in, and we're trying to help them do that.”
“Happy Ever After” is an anthemic ode to empowerment and individuality, and urges audiences to think about how to achieve this by adopting a healthy amount of self-examination. Cockerham expands, “The huge media outlets, education systems and the Internet have given us molds or templates to choose from when it comes to becoming a person or choosing a path. This track is advising against using those templates and making yourself into something unique and special.”
“People” advises an open-minded and “One Love” approach towards the human race, as members of the band feel is still a poignant message for this country. Cockerhams delivery of “Everybody’s out trying to do the same thing / if we don’t come together then it’s never gonna change” is forceful and affecting, and the driving guitar and the crescendo of the instrumentation mirrors the singer’s plea. “Hold on Me,” “Wolves,” and “Runaway” continue the strong musicality and message building that has enticed their fans.
While touring the Southeastern U.S., Sway Jah Vu is constantly evolving the way they impact their community by putting on free shows for fans, participating in benefit concerts and volunteering for organizations like The Water Project, Chillin’ for Kids, and V.O.C.A.L. Animal Rescue. "We want to push the limits for creating new and exciting music while staying true to our mission of creating a cultural sway,” says Cockerham. Sway Jah Vu will tour in support of the new release. Please check out http://www.swayjahvu.com/shows for more details.