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Soldiers of Fortune: Jacob Hempell on where SOJA’s been and where they’re going

Photography by Sam Balling

Although they hail from the D.C./Arlington, VA area, Soldiers of Jah Army- most often referred to as SOJA- tours so much, they’re looking forward to the break they’re getting soon. Their reggae music is rich with rock and even folk influences, and lead singer Jacob Hemphill’s voice is totally unique, giving SOJA a sound unlike any other of its nature. After years away from the Northeast, SOJA returns to open for OAR at the Burlington Maritime Festival, on the Burlington, VT waterfront. The stage faces the lawn and behind it the bay, Lake Champlain, the breakwaters, and the mountains. SOJA not only played to a happy, sun-infused crowd, but also to a magnificent sunset and its light reflecting off the water. Jacob sat down on a boulder to discuss the band’s new label, their tour with OAR, and their new album.

Jacob Hemphill | SOJA

How long has it been since you’ve been up to Vermont?

The last time we played was at Nectar’s, but we love it up here. We’re hoping we can come back a lot more.

You’ve got a new album coming out in January.

We don’t know the exact date, but we’re finished. It’s sitting in the basement of my house.

You got signed to ATO (Dave Mathews’ record label). How’d that happen?

They came to see us at a show in New York and we’d been talking to a few record labels, and what ATO said to us was, “Don’ t change a thing. This is perfect.” And we were like, “What? Really?” Because normally you expect people to want you to change a little bit. They were like. “No. In fact, if you do change anything, we don’t want you anymore.” It’s one of the main things we wanted to hear. We checked out all their artists. It’s a crazy mix of bands and there’s some really good groups on there.


0 # MOnica Schmidt 2011-09-07 09:26
excellent interview!!!!
0 # Jeff 2011-09-08 15:47
Jacob...I've seen SOJA on the jukebox at Bungalows and they played one of your songs at the intermission of a Zac Brown Band conert at FexEx Field...we love you guys!
0 # Anthony 2011-09-12 15:22
I've been following SOJA for years. Their music and sound is unique and real. I can never get enough. They should be on the radio, but unfortunately they aren't. This was a great read and shows that their music is important and is only getting better.
0 # g 2011-09-22 16:46
Listening to them for a few years and saw them recently in the LBC hungout with them at the after guys good vibe good music.
0 # Judy 2011-10-18 14:02
Anuhea was awesome, came to IOTA because of SOJA ended up hearing a talented kick butt girl from Hawaii can't wait to hear the new CD with the song you wrote or are writing. Dont leave VA hope to see a show in VA soon!
0 # Beatriz Lira 2011-11-12 16:11
when going to have show in Recife in Brazil?
0 # Paloma 2011-11-15 15:25
Vocs são muito bons já podem se considerar reis do reggae . Amoo muitoo SOJA ;D
0 # Paloma 2011-11-15 15:26
Vocs são muito bons já podem se considerar reis do reggae . Amoo muitoo SOJA ;D
0 # Paloma 2011-11-15 15:27
Vocês são muito bons, já podem se considerarem reis do reggae.
Amoo muitooo SOJA :D
0 # Rob Waller 2011-12-01 22:05
That artist is Anuhea and she does sing her ass off! Much love and respect to her and SOJA. Best.Band.Ever.
0 # ana julia 2011-12-13 22:07
a banda SOJA e perfeito e vou
dizer que o vocalista Jacob e tudo de bommmm...quando vem ao Brasil???quero ve-los muito
0 # AmandaSoldier 2012-01-20 11:21
choro toda vez que um dia eu encontrarei vocês, não sei quando mas tenho certeza que um dia vocês vão saber quem eu sou. a maior fã da banda. alma soldier sempre (yyyy
porque amor de fã. nunca morre.


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