Artist Spotlight - Yumi Zouma
(Photo Credit - Jack Sheppard)
We had the opportunity to interview rising alt-stars Yumi Zoumi! Their brand new album 'Truth or Consequences' drops this Friday! Check out what they had to say in our Artist Spotlight!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I grew up with a lot of music around. Dad introduced me to the classics, Mum played guitar and sung and my grandparents had a harmonica trio in the 1950's (no shit). It was my sister and her riot grrrl and later post hardcore band in high school that got me into the idea of being in a band, writing songs and playing shows. Luckily my small town in New Zealand had a really supportive music scene with heaps of kids playing shows in bands. The biggest turning point for me was getting Cool Edit Pro on a computer and starting to record. That changed the way that I thought about making music. There was and still is something intoxicating about blending writing and recording at the same time. But did I pursue music, or did it pursue me?! *Cue New Young Radicals - You Only Get What You Give*" - Josh
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"It has changed from record to record. When we started out, usually Josh or Charlie would come up with a first "snippet" of an idea, and we'd email that idea back and forth between ourselves until it was fleshed out into a full track. However, on recent records, we've started writing together in person as we're physically together during or after tours. That allows the chemistry between us to take hold of the songwriting process in a more instant way, with ideas bouncing back and forth quicker than we're able to via long-distance. But regardless of the medium, the process usually involves a guitar or synth part at the beginning, rough drums and percussion coming next, and then scratch vocals being added by all of us in the vocal booth. These scratch vocals are then compiled into an aggregate melody. Most of the time, we then take that melody, remove the rest of the instrumentation, and rewrite the song to fit the new melody perfectly." - Charlie
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"The most prominent influence for me personally has to be Stevie Nicks, and Fleetwood Mac - I discovered them through a friend at age 15, and then found a scratched up copy of Rumours in the bargain bin at a record shop for $2. I've been obsessed ever since with the way they write and work together, particularly with the dynamic between Stevie Nicks & Lindsay Buckingham. There's so much magic to what they do. Pre-dating that, I was really really obsessed with Panic at the Disco at age 13 – I think their hooks and insane melodies really influenced the way that I write now!" - Christie
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"We definitely do have some favourite gear that we like to use. For example, Josh and I both have black and white Squier Bronco short-scale bass guitars that we alternate between for live shows and recordings. We love the Neumann WET Reverb, Malekko Chorus, and Polytune guitar pedals. Even on recordings, we all use Logic Pro, Apogee Duets, and Yamaha HS5s to record. The biggest thing we agonise over is how to play our synths and samples live, as we don't want to use laptops on stage. For a long time, we used Roland SP-404 samplers. Then we decided we wanted to try and use samplers with keys, but one of the great travesties of modern life is that sampling keyboards aren't really in production anymore. We used the Waldorf Blofeld for a while, but we found the low hard drive disk space too limiting for live performances. We then moved to the Korg Microsampler, but found the mini-sized keys too small for proper playing. We have finally settled on a sampler called the 1010 Blackbox, which is an incredible feat of engineering (packed into a tiny body!) We use the Blackbox to power three keyboards at the front of the stage via three Kenton midi hosts and a midi merge box to combine everything into one midi signal."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?.
"The vibe of our live shows is usually a bit more intense than people expect after listening to our recordings. Fans probably come expecting very relaxed dream pop vibes, but because we all grew up playing shows in rock bands, our live presence is much more sonically orientated to that of a "guitar" band than on the records, and we play a bit faster and louder than one otherwise would. This is especially true now that Olivia has joined the band and we have live drums in our performances instead of drum machines!" - Charlie "I love playing in really old venues – there's something so romantic and dramatic about playing in a former ballroom or theatre. But really, what's most important for my enjoyment and the audience's enjoyment is the way that the room sounds, and sometimes this is actually better when the venue is newer, and actually designed to suit a live band. I also love a really nice green room. Makes such a difference when you're getting ready to play a show in a nice clean space with good light!" - Christie
6. What’s your favorite story from touring?
Covo Club - Bologna, Italy, 2016 "Two songs in, I catch a glance in the corner of my eye of... someone else on stage?? I knew it wasn't a Yumi because they we're about 60+ and wearing a fedora. Dude just danced on stage for the remainder of the set, vigorously clapping between songs. Even held my guitar as I readjusted the strap! Turns out it's a great compliment to have this particular local get up on stage! We we're touched to have our Italian hype man!" - Josh
7. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"That none of us are pro's and whoever is reading this thinking they might want to make music that is sent off into the world, if we can do it you can too! The world needs MORE music and art and you are just the person to do it :)" - Josh
8. Can you tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion process for your new album Truth or Consequences?
"It's actually been a much longer process than with previous records for us – we started work on this album in 2017, coming up with ideas and working on rough demos first in Christchurch and then in LA before we went on tour. Most of what Truth or Consequences is today came about from that time in our friend Andrew's studio in LA. We spent some pretty long hours there but we came up with so much new material with all 3 of us in the room – more collaboratively than any previous album. I was definitely more heavily involved in this process than previous albums. A few months after LA I flew to London where we all met up to finish writing and track the vocals – but then even from that point, Charlie & Josh kept working and re-working on these tracks until they felt exactly where we wanted them to be. There were so many alternative versions of some of the tracks on the album before we came to the final! As for promotion, the meaning behind the album and the associated imagery and visuals really felt like it only evolved after the album was finished, but it did feel quite organic this time around. We've been lucky that with this album, we've had more room to create visual assets – beautiful music videos, and we were so lucky to have a friend of Josh's work his design magic to create a really beautiful and striking theme for our album. This whole album feels bigger than anything we've ever done before and I think the process definitely reflects that!" - Christie