INTERVIEW + NEW MUSIC: Yumi Zouma
For me, and I presume, for many of you as well, it can sometimes take several listens to really enjoy a new band and “get” their music. This is not the case, however, with Christchurch, New Zealand quartet, Yumi Zouma. Within moments of clicking play on album opener, “Barricade (Matter Of Fact)”, my heart (which has been tightly padlocked as of late) began to open and a smile slowly spread upon my face. Yoncalla is the debut album from Yumi Zouma and it’s a dreamy, upbeat pop record that makes me feel the good things and lets me know that everything is going to be ok. Eventually.
Escape with Yumi Zouma.
I had the chance to chat with the band in advance of their Barboza show this coming July 6th! Read on to learn about the meaning of Yumi Zouma, the band having their VERY first practice in front of 2,000 people, touring with Lorde and more things you want to know about.
the mixtape: What are you doing right now besides answering this question?
Yumi Zouma: We just flew in to Austin, Texas from finishing up our European tour in Berlin, Germany. So we’re super jet lagged lying in bed in our hotel, and getting ready to start the next US run of our album release tour, starting with our show with Jessy Lanza tomorrow night!
tm: Does your band name, Yumi Zouma, have a special meaning?
YZ: It comes from two of our friends that encouraged us to start making music in the first place! So it has special meaning to us, but probably not to the outside world! Although I guess it does now to everyone else, because now it represents us as a band. We kind of forget about how other people perceive that sometimes.
tm: What do you think it is about the four of you that makes Yumi Zouma work as a band well as it does?
YZ: We’re not sure if we do work particularly well – it would be way more helpful if we could do photoshoots or videos whenever we wanted because we lived in the same city for instance! But Yumi Zouma is definitely a product of the four of us – we all come from really extreme places musically, we could never recreate the same sort of vibe on our own. It probably helps that we all started off as really good friends first to bridge that gap.
tm: From your BIO: “…the intense reception to these early tracks resulted in the group’s first practices taking place on arena stages, as they were asked on tour by both Lorde and Chet Faker.”
Literally, were your very first practices on arena stages? This must have been very unnerving for you all, no?
YZ: Yes! It was bloody terrifying in the beginning, our first show was the start of a world tour in front of 2,000 people at The Forum in Melbourne, and then a few weeks later we were playing to 10,000 people at the Vector Arena in Auckland. We were scrambling to get all the parts from the recordings on different instruments, and we hardly slept for the first week. Each show was definitely an adventure. But surprisingly enough, those early shows all went pretty well.. I’m sure if we could go back now, we’d think they were pretty rough compared to what we’re like now after touring for 2 years straight, but nothing catastrophic happened and it was a great way to start our life off as a band!
tm: Do you have a favorite moment/s while touring with either Lorde or Chet Faker?
YZ: The Lorde shows were pretty insane. The queues outside the venue were massive, and we would go outside and hang out with everyone before doors opened. Then when doors opened, all the super fans at the front of the lines would start screaming and charging into the venues to get to the front. Stuff like that was super surreal. Also the whole backstage experience of those arena shows with security guards everywhere and massive buffet meals is pretty amazing. The actual playing wasn’t so bad, the crowds would get to a stage where they were so big that it doesn’t register anymore like if you were playing in a club.
tm: At your start, because of disparate living arrangements, you all were forced to collaborate via email to create your initial material. Describe what it was like to finally be able to create all together in one space….and how do you think that affected the sound of your new album, Yoncalla?
YZ: It was difficult in the beginning. We were used to just being able to work on each others ideas half the world away while everyone else was asleep or at school or work etc. For Yoncalla, all that experimentation had to be done in real time, in front of everyone else, which can be frustrating if things aren’t going the way you had originally envisioned them as a writer, or if it’s taking a while. But in the end I think we realised that you sort of have to let that go if you’re going to get anything done. And in the end, the songs always end up completely different to how we’d imagined them anyway, so fretting about little things at the start of the process is totally just a waste of time. Once we’d figured that out, things went really smoothly, and recording together was a really fun process because for the first time we were coming up with random stuff from bouncing ideas off each other in real time that we wouldn’t have written individually. I think that gave the album a life of it’s own, and made Yoncalla sound more “Yumi Zouma” than EP I and II, which has parts on it that we can tell are definitely written by Charlie or Josh or whatever. It’s much harder for us to pick those parts out on the album.
tm: What’s your favorite part about being a musician?
YZ: Being able to create art that other people connect with and obsess over like we do ourselves, while travelling to cool new places, playing to new people, and making new friends.
tm: What should Seattle expect from you guys at your Barboza show?
YZ: Because Health are also playing, we were thinking of changing up the live configuration a little bit to make the set more congruous with them, which will be fun. It’s actually the 2nd time some of us have played with Health, and the first time was incredible, so we’re really pumped to see them again, and I think our set will be a bit more intense than usual!
tm: If Yumi Zouma were an action figure what accessories would you have?
YZ: No special accessories, apart from guitars, keyboards, and samplers – just the ability to turn back time.