It's only been two years since the release of their debut EP, yet Yumi Zouma have done remarkably well for themselves - with this week marking the announcement of their debut album, 'Yoncalla' (which is both self-recorded and self-produced), set for release on May 27th.
They're a band like no other, with members who originally met in Christchurch now scattered all over the globe (in Auckland, Paris and New York), though they've previously returned down under to tour with the likes of Lorde and Chet Faker.
Their latest single 'Keep It Close To Me' embodies the Yumi Zouma sound perfectly - with Christie's floaty, wispy vocals sitting atop a danceable yet magical soundscape.
We spoke to Charlie Ryder of the band, about their songwriting, upcoming releases, and his love of The 1975…
COUP DE MAIN: You guys recently released a remix of Japanese Wallpaper's song 'Forces'. How does your remix process work?
YUMI ZOUMA - CHARLIE: I don't think we're entirely sure yet, I think that was the first remix we've ever done! And we didn't really approach it how I feel you should normally approach a remix. We just took Hannah's (Airling) vocal stem, cut out the bits that we could turn into the kind of vocal hooks we normally use when writing Yumi Zouma songs, then wrote a new song with new vocals around those hooks. It was heaps of fun though! Hannah has an amazing voice and Gab's (Japanese Wallpaper) production on that track is insane.
CDM: You guys are based all around the world, which must be difficult for being in a band - how do you manage to continue functioning as a band despite this?
YUMI ZOUMA: It's not difficult for us because it's the only way we know how to be. I guess thinking about it now, of course it would be easier if we could play shows and do photoshoots or videos together whenever we wanted, but that's never been an option for us, so it isn't something we ever think about. We've just got to make sure that we plan ahead well, to make the most of the time when we are together.
CDM: You've released two EPs thus far - do you have plans for an album? Do you think releasing smaller bodies of work, more often, is something that you prefer as a group?
YUMI ZOUMA: Yes we do have plans for an album! I think we will be telling people about that really really soon, which I'm super excited about! It keeps up our track record of one release per year, which I quite like. Releasing smaller bodies of work is obviously quicker and easier, and that helps when you're just starting out and working out how to releases. But for me, albums are more definitive milestones. I still fall in love with albums the most, even in this day and age where most people probably just listen to singles. Even with artists that do just release singles, I'm weird in that I like to put them in albums for me to listen to. I like messing around with the artwork, names, and track listings etc… It's probably some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder that people born in the new millennium will no longer have.
CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
YUMI ZOUMA: Usually, one of us has an idea for a new song that initially consists of three parts - usually a chord progression on a keyboard or guitar, some kind of musical hook on keys or guitar, and a vocal hook. That will all be in a Logic (the software we all use) session, but at first, the initial writer will send it around just as an mp3, and we'll talk about where we think the song could go, and the initial writer will add in those ideas straightaway and bounce out a new mp3. At that point, usually Charlie or Josh decides that they want to mess with the song, and so the whole Logic session has to be uploaded (which can take a while) for them to download it. That process keeps happening over and over again, during several months before we're happy with the arrangement. Then we will all sit down and flesh out the lyrics and record vocals. After that, we'll mess with the session some more, adding in bits and pieces while mixing it over a period of a few weeks. Once we have all the songs for a release finished, then we'll send it to Jeff at Cascine and he'll give us a score like A+, A-, B, C, etc, and sometimes provide ideas for parts we can change. A few days later everything is usually then 'sort-of-finished'. We'll send the record out to be mastered, and usually at some point one of us freaks out and makes some changes at the last minute before the masters are signed off. But once the masters are signed off, then every song is finally finished!
CDM: Our column is all about NZ music - what other NZ musicians are you loving at the moment?
YUMI ZOUMA: Aldous Harding and Secret Knives.
YOU WILL LIKE MY MUSIC, IF YOU LIKE... I was going to say Yumi Zouma, but chances are that if you were a fan of my band you probably wouldn't like the stuff I write that no-one else will touch. If you like that stuff, you're probably a deviant into some pretty horrible rubbish.
IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE OF MY SONGS, YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO... 'Second Wave'. It's mah fav <3
WATCH THIS VIDEO, BECAUSE... because they're babes in it and the text is great for screenshots on Twitter.
MY TOP FIVE MUSICAL CRUSHES ARE... The 1975 plus their saxophonist [John Waugh].
CDM: What's the most despicable thing you've ever done?
YUMI ZOUMA: Fallen in love with The 1975.
CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
YUMI ZOUMA: I'd get Carly Rae Jepsen and The 1975 to play, and it would be called 'Charlie's Music Festival!!'.
CDM: If you could pick any five people (living or dead) to be in your entourage, who would you choose?
YUMI ZOUMA: The five would come out of a pool of my four grandparents (who I never met), my sister Charlotte (who I never met), my sister Bryony (who I have met), my nephew Albie (but at age 20), my niece Cecilia (but at age 20), George Clooney, Arsene Wenger, Cillian Murphy, Barack Obama, Jeff from Cascine (sorry Andi, it's a tight list), Mohammed, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, my girlfriend, my parents (at ages 40 and 41), my band, The 1975 plus their saxophonist, Justin Bieber, and my Mum's estranged brother who she hasn't seen in 40 years. The 30 of us would then make up six teams chosen randomly in a tournament of 5-a-side soccer, with the winning team claiming the prize of becoming my entourage. If I am on the winning team, then the 5th place on the entourage goes to the top scorer (or second-highest scorer not on my team if the top scorer is on my team).
CDM: Who is your most famous fan?
YUMI ZOUMA: Apparently it's Zooey Deschanel, but Reggie Watts from 'The Late Late Show with James Corden' posted a song of ours on his Instagram once, which may be more definitive. I hope it's Cillian Murphy though, I've been sending him demos for ages.
CDM: Do you believe in magic?
YUMI ZOUMA: Not at the moment, but I want to believe! My favourite movie of 2013 was 'Now You See Me', which combined my two favourite movie elements - magic and heists - but I haven't experienced anything in real life so magical that it is completely unexplainable YET. I hope this encourages magicians to come to our shows, we will put you on the guest-list if you do magic after the set.
CDM: What is your spirit animal?
YUMI ZOUMA: Dolphin!!!!!!!
CDM: How long could you go without talking?
YUMI ZOUMA: Too long :'(
CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
YUMI ZOUMA: Time.
CDM: What is the most heroic thing that you've ever done?
YUMI ZOUMA: This one time I think I stopped a guy from jumping off a bridge into the Seine [River], but I'm not 100% he was actually going to jump because my French isn't very good yet, he might have just been looking for something.
CDM: Have you ever written a love letter?
YUMI ZOUMA: Heh. Ask Cillian Murphy…
CDM: What is your first proper memory, ever?
YUMI ZOUMA: Standing outside the Brae yelling at my dad that my real name was CHARLES not Charlie, and that he should obviously address me as such, or ELSE.
CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
YUMI ZOUMA: The intro and chorus to 'Somebody Else' [by The 1975].
CDM: Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? If so, tell us about it.
YUMI ZOUMA: No, but I am willing to try. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
CDM: Stretch your right arm out as far as you can reach, what can you touch?
YUMI ZOUMA: A CFA Level 1 textbook on derivatives and alternative investments.. :'(
Listen to their brand new single 'Keep It Close To Me' below…