Randa And The Soul Kingdom are ready to unleash their long-awaited third album Put Your Hands Up on digital platforms on Thursday, February 24. Despite still being unreleased, the record has already been making waves, with songs 2048 and Standing Strong both nominated for the WAM Song of the Year award, and fourth single Is This I winning Best Music Video in the Revelation International Film Festival. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Randa Khamis to find out how the album is a testament to the power of music in every stage of life.

Congrats on the release of your new album. How long has this been in the works for and how does it feel to finally be releasing it?

It’s been a long time in the making! I had some rough sketches for songs back in 2016. I spent 18 months running ideas with James, my partner and bass player, and the band, then in 2018 we went into RADA studios and after a lengthy recording and post production process, we finally emerged with an 11 song album in 2019. Then COVID arrived so every plan we had for the release was put on hold, but I decided that early 2022 was going to be the deadline and so finally we’re releasing it!

What do you feel it was that drew you to music, and particularly soul music in the beginning?

From the age as young as I can remember, about four or five years old, I remember feeling like I was been transported to a magical world every time I sang along to funk and soul music. It was a world that I could escape to and a world where I could be myself, and in fact feel like I could be a better version of myself because I could express myself through song and dance. It felt so joyful and liberating. I felt very safe in that world and wanted to be there all the time. It seemed that this world also understood my emotions and that felt very comforting, like having a best friend. My older sisters and everyone around me seemed to play funk and soul, so I grew up with it.

How does this album compare to those you have released before? Were you trying anything differently and how did that influence the result?

Put Your Hands Up is a more varied album than the other two, partly because I spent more time on the creative songwriting process than the last two. I was experimenting with more influences apart from funk and soul, like some aspects of afrobeat or rockabilly, and there’s even a soulful ballad, Find A Good Man, which is a first for me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I think this album delves a little more deeper in substance lyrically, such as environmental issues like saving our oceans in the song 2048, or the power struggle women face living in a man’s world in How’m I Gonna Do That, or the pain of trying to find the right person in a given time for women who want to have children. Some of those themes come more from observing and listening to people throughout my life and writing from their perspective, and others are very personal, first hand stories for me.

The video from the album’s single Is This I won the best video clip award at the Revelation Film Festival! What is the meaning of the track and how was this represented in the video clip?

Is This I is about the search for self awareness – the difficulty of being able to see ourselves in our lives and who we are really being in the world. I think it’s so important to stay self aware so that we can do more good than harm in the world and maintain healthy relationships – and that can be a real challenge!

I was inspired when I saw some videos of animals reacting to their reflection in a mirror, where they couldn’t understand who they were looking at and I just found it so hilarious seeing them sometimes try to trick the ‘other’ animal that was imitating their every move. It got me thinking about how we as humans try to trick ourselves or pretend to be something that we’re not, and how difficult it can be to honestly look at the person we face in the mirror.

When Amy Ruth Gibbs came on board to direct the video, I shared with her the meaning of the song and she immediately came back to me with this great video concept which I just loved. It’s big, bright, and colourful with non-stop action, with the band wearing homemade animal masks to represent that human/animal ambiguity.

This is one of many songs on the record that despite being very danceable, still seem to carry an important message. What would you like listeners to take away from this record?

We called the album Put Your Hands Up, (named after its second single) because ultimately, this is a collection of fun party songs and we want it to be the soundtrack for a good time. But there’s a double meaning there too – the more everyday people out there who put their hands up to make a difference, the more positive change we will see in the world.

I would hope that when you ‘Put Your Hands Up’ it’s not only for having a good time dancing, but putting your hands up to say “yes, I want to make a difference, I want to engage with life and get into it.” I’d like people to listen to the lyrics and think about some of the challenges in the topics I’ve touched on like the environment, female empowerment and self awareness. So in the end I’m hoping this album will inspire people.

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