“I wasn’t the type of person that would go to a show and stand there and watch,” says Travis Green, vocalist for local band, Sway Jah Vu. “I feel emotionally charged when I listen to music, and I hope my music impacts people in the same way.”
Music is transcendence for Green, who allows it to make him move, mosh, dance and headbang. As part of “Florida grown alt-reggae” band, Sway Jah Vu, Green and his bandmates conjure tropical mirages with their luminous guitars, percussion, and horns. They will play at Fifth & Thomas on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Green’s vocals match the music’s sunny disposition with lyrics that elevate listeners into a self-reflective realm. Green began listening to reggae music eight years ago and was immediately struck by its candid songwriting and universal themes.
“It is all about acceptance and unity, love and spirituality, which is what I think we need as a whole now,” says Green. “With all the things going on politically, we need a spiritual awakening with more understanding and empathy for the next person.”
Though he didn’t pick up an acoustic guitar until his early 20s, Green was a quick study. He recently began taking lessons with guitar instructor Christopher Seepersaud and looks up to musicians like Brad Foutch and Incubus’ Brandon Boyd. Green cut his teeth performing at friends’ parties and around bonfires before putting together small projects.
Five years ago, he and bassist Logan Pepper formed Sway Jah Vu. Connecting with other musicians from Florida State’s College of Music program and the local scene, their group grew to include drummer Mateo Sanchez and saxophonist Eric Kennedy.
Their band name reflects a deeper philosophical stance. Green says the group came across the French term, déjà vu, meaning already seen or a feeling that something has been lived through before. Ruminating on the perpetual cycle of life, the band incorporated reggae’s distinctive, sonic “sway” into their play on words.
“We felt like our goal was to break the cycle and monotonousness of daily life and routines through higher ideals,” says Green. “We hope our music is invoking some sort of thought or cognition, raising your level of awareness and consciousness.”
In 2016, Sway Jah Vu released their second EP, “In the Company of Wolves” and are looking to release their first full-length album, “Rebirth” later this year. Green says the songwriting process for the new album typically begins with a rhyme or rhythm. He’ll approach his bandmates with the seed of an idea that they’ll grow together, adding lyrics that build off the concept.
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