WHEN XuluProphet throws a party, it’s more than just a celebration of music.
For the local reggae/psych/rock band’s release of their new single, “Land of the Slave,” the Savannah community is invited to Beyond Local, a single release, fundraiser, and community celebration.
In the brand-new home of 13 Bricks Design and Printing, XuluProphet will perform alongside Marquice Lashaud Williams of Spitfire Poetry Group and talented young writers from the Deep Center.
Democratic Congressional candidate Lisa Ring will even be at the shindig, showing her support of youth-based educational programs and local entrepreneurship, and Sly’s Sliders and Fries will cater the event. Throughout the night, attendees can earn prizes through a fundraiser raffle, benefitting the Deep Center.
The evening is a culmination of years of collaboration and friendship, and it’s a fete that could only happen in the artistic enclave of Savannah.
We spoke with bandmates Xulu Jones, Oisin Daly, and Rhett Coleman about their community-minded approach to musicmaking, their politically-charged new single, and signing with an international record label.
How did you record the single?
Daly: In different stages. I recorded in my living room, sent it to Max, our old drummer, mixed it, then I sent it to Justin who runs Boom One Records and he recorded the horn parts. He sent it back and asked if I wanted to release it on the label. We recorded vocals at Xulu's house...Daniel Lynch helped me record the vocals. There was a lot of people, it took about a year.
Jones: Part of the impetus for me was—remember when Taft got jammed up? [Note: In 2016, local musician and community organizer Josh Taft was arrested during a counter-protest at a white power rally in Stone Mountain, Georgia.]
Daly: I went to New Orleans around the time [Taft] was in jail. And it was when Donald Trump won his first Super Tuesday and it became pretty apparent he was going to win. I woke up in Jacksonville after a 12-hour drive and had these lyrics in my head.
Lyrically, “Land of Slave” is very timely.
Daly: Well, I was hoping I wouldn't have to bring it out again, thinking Trump wouldn't win the election. When he did, I thought, I guess I have to break out the song.
Why release it now?
Daly: I think a lot of people are feeling despondent and also a lot of people are waking up and trying to get more involved in politics, trying to spread awareness. I think the timing was right.
Jones: And there’s the combination of the artwork and the music. I joke and say this is going to be the song that gets us lynched or run out of town because it may be offensive to some people. But the veil is coming back. Communication is different than it’s ever been. The shit that’s been swept under the rug, it’s coming out.
Both of us like history, too, and here in Savannah, St. Patrick’s Day is the equivalent of a minstrel show. It’s a religious holiday where Oisin is from. But Savannah was built on the backs of Irish and African slaves. They wanted to trick the Irish slaves into thinking they were better than the African slaves. They called them indentured servants, but the end result is the same.
So you got this multiracial band, and the white boy in the band is writing the song about justice and equality! It also shows that you don’t have to belong to any demographic to stand on the side of justice. What we’re all sold as America is not the reality.
As a band, you’ve had a long relationship with 13 Bricks and [illustrator] Alfredo Martinez.
Daly: I just sent him a message, he took the idea from a Salvador Dali painting. He's our fourth Beatle.
Jones: I was homeless when I met them all. I used to crash on [13 Bricks cofounder Vann-Ellison Seales’] couch in the house I’m living in now. The room they conceptualized 13 Bricks in...that room is now our practice space.
Full circle. And the event focuses on personal relationships, the growth of the company, the charitable aspect, and Lisa Ring is coming too, right?
Jones: I've been making an effort to include Lisa Ring because the thing that made me pay attention to a politician is she wasn't taking corporate money.
Daly: She was on the Bernie Sanders team before—that was going down when I wrote the song. There’s a line about people voting in the primaries that got rejected. When I saw her campaign, it all made sense.
Coleman: A lot of the brainstorming for the event took place in that same room Xulu was talking about. Looking at the name of the event, part of the idea was showing people what can happen not only when people with different interests work together toward a common goal, but what happens when different brands work together. A lot of our success has been from our work with 13 Bricks. Their artists get international recognition, our single goes on an international label. It’s a big celebration for what we’ve achieved so far by working together.
Jones: Doesn’t matter who makes it from Savannah to the international stage. All of us will get a pay raise.
You have the kids from Deep performing, and Marquice, too.
Jones: [Spitfire] was the first place I played sober. I was staying at recovery housing, and that was my first sober gig in my life. Scary as shit. I shaved my head, still had a tumor on my face, I was beat down, and Marquice has a certain warmth about him that's not condescending. Sometimes, someone younger thank you looks at you, all beat-up like, "Look at you, you waste of life." I didn't get none of that. He's been a good friend. And he was 13 Bricks' first customer!
It's all so interwoven.
Jones: We want to be an example. Imagine if every band in Savannah picked one thing that's important to them and, once a month, did something. Money that wasn't there would then be there to make an investment in good shit. Part of my motivation is selfish—if I live in a shitty community, then the quality of my life is shitty. If I live in a healthy community, the quality of my life is healthy.
Daly: Sometimes...being a musician can seem frivolous, like just having fun playing and not doing anything serious. We wanted to try and make a difference in addition to having fun.
Coleman: At our live shows, it’s like, “Be merry, dance with us, but also here’s something near and dear to us.”
Daly: Music can change people’s consciousness and change their perspective. And when people are excited and happy, it elevates their consciousness.