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Five minutes with Yumi Zouma

Upon approaching the new album Truth Or Consequences from Kiwi dream pop outfit Yumi Zouma, it's immediately clear that these four unique characters are pretty easy-going. They do, after all, maintain the band from four far-flung cities around the globe - London, NYC, Wellington and their native, Christchurch. Needless to say, the theme of distance effortlessly seeps into their music metaphorically and it's in this figurative chasms that this album, Truth Or Consequences, finds its narrative: romantic and platonic heartbreak, real and imagined emotional distance, disillusionment, and being out of reach. There are no answers, there’s very seldom closure, but there is an undeniable release that comes from saying the truth, if only to oneself. From London, Charlie Ryder (right), guitarist, bassist and keyboardist for the band

WL: Hi there Charlie, how are you holding up in this current craziness?

CR: I'm fine! Just keeping out of the way at home and trying to stay productive given the circumstances.

WL: How are you spending your time in isolation?

CR: I'm still working from home, and doing as much Yumi Zouma stuff as possible. To be honest though, It's a bit of a strange situation in that our brand new album was released the week of the lockdown. For example, writing new music already feels weird, like I'm cheating on this album by not giving it the tours and promotion it deserves, but hopefully it will just mean we have another album out even sooner!

WL: Congrats on the album - you must be relieved to have it out - it's yet another stunning listen. What was the process like for you all?

CR: Thank you! It is a relief - a few weeks later in the calendar and I'm not sure how the release would have fared. This was a long process for us as we started the album in 2018, which might not seem that long ago to most, but for us is an eternity - we're used to releasing a record every year, so going through 2019 without doing so felt like torture! In terms of the writing and recording process, it was similar to our previous work in how some of it was done between us over email, but also different in other parts with some songs being written and recorded between us in real time at our friend Andrew's studio in Los Angeles. It's also the first time we've had live drums on a record, following Olivia's joining of the band.

WL: Given the current isolation, I'm finding music quite the saviour at the moment - do you think Truth Or Consequences provides some solace during this time? It feels reassuring to my ears....

CR: We hope so! We always try and make our tracks to be as calming as possible whilst still remaining catchy and enjoyable - and if the album can help anyone during this tumultuous time then that is a lovely silver lining.

WL: How does the album-making process occur for you guys - what comes first for you - the single or the album?

CR: The album definitely comes first! The singles always get chosen at the last minute. In fact, the main single from Truth or Consequences ended up being 'Cool For A Second', and that almost didn't make it on the album! It was a rubbish song for ages before we turned it on it's head and switched up all the chord progressions and melodies.

WL: As you may know, we here at Waxx Lyrical have chosen you for Record of The Month. How important is a vinyl pressing for your album to you?

CR: Thank you very much, we are very blessed! Vinyl has been hugely important to us throughout our career, as all of the labels we have been on have been very vinyl-oriented, and our fanbase is well-aligned with the record collecting community. Signing records after each show is always a huge honour and we feel very lucky that anyone would want to press and release our songs onto such a beautiful physical format, let alone own it in their own collections.

WL: And you've presented it beautifully too - the coke bottle green is a masterstroke. How do you reach all these kinds of aesthetical decisions?

CR: Thank you! We spent a long time planning out the designs with our art director Lorenzo Fanton and the staff at our respective label partners. We went through many PDFs of possible typography, photography, and colouring choices. In the end, we're really happy with how things turned out - it feels like this is the most definitive-looking Yumi Zouma record yet.

WL: Your music will suddenly be in the hands of potentially new listeners via our Record of The Month - what's one single thing you'd like the newcomers to know about Yumi Zouma?

CR: That we're just four kids from New Zealand who have been making records for the last few years, and that we'd very much appreciate it if you took our new album Truth or Consequences for a spin!

WL: Again, for those newcomers, what's the easiest way to explain the evolution of your music?

CR: Most people say we make dream pop. When we started the band, we were all living in different countries, so 100% of our collaboration was done over email, resulting in a very electronic-orientated sound. As we've started touring together and getting access to things like recording studios, we've been able to incorporate more classic or organic textures to our recordings, but either way, the melodies are always most important.

WL: What's a favourite song of yours on the record, and why does it mean so much to you?

CR: My favourite song is 'Sage' - it means a lot to me as, as when we wrote and recorded it in L.A., it was the first time that I felt like we had made the Yumi Zouma song that I had always wanted to make. A song in the style I'd had in my head for years. It's funny that it was the song I probably had the least to do with on the record, as Christie came up with the main parts all on the spot in about five minutes. I couldn't believe it when she made the chorus chord progression - the timing of the chord changes was put down in a way that I would've never have envisaged and I still love it so much.


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