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