interview – yumi zouma

photo courtesy of landon speers

photo courtesy of landon speers

yumi zouma finished strong in 2014, and we speculated that new material might be on the way sooner rather than later.  sure enough, the new zealand outfit began teasing ep ii early in the new year, culminating in its official release yesterday via cascine.  we were extremely fortunate to catch up with the band’s vocalist kim pflaum via email, who chatted with us about the yumi zouma writing process, the band’s affinity for different places in the world, and audiobooks.  check out the transcript below.

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ep ii is a wonderful second outing; you all should be very proud.  can you outline some of the conceptual goals for this record?

thank you very much!  we worked in the same way as the first ep and i think with the two the only goal was to make songs we were proud to play to our friends.  honestly, if i send a track to friend and they react positively it means so much to me.  it stems from friends showing me new music and falling in love with it.  friends are my main path to new music and luckily they all have good taste!  so if i show them a new yumi track and they dig it i respect that, because i know our tastes are aligned.

vocal melodies dominate the majority of your work, but there’s a lot going on underneath the surface that either informs or supports those melodies.  how is a yumi zouma song typically constructed?

it really changes from song to song.  sometimes there is a melody that sticks in a rough sketch where the arrangement is very simple, or not fully developed, and then everything gets built up around it.  other times we have a really fleshed-out bed with production and chord progressions and find a ‘top line’ that sticks.  melody is so important to us; it’s what gets stuck in your head!  it would be very rare that the way drums sound or something becomes an ear worm.

 

has the transition from recording project to live band had a noticeable impact on how you approach songwriting?

not really!  i think writing songs with live performance in mind doesn’t work for a band like yumi.  a recorded track has so many layers in it that help us drive the dynamics.  live you can do that in a different way so you’re not so reliant on layering.  it would be a big mistake to let live limitations or live performance influence our songwriting.  it would be like a golf player letting his golf swing affect his love life.

do you have any plans to congregate and focus solely on yumi zouma, or are you still spread out across the globe?

nope!  josh loves new york; charlie doesn’t like it so much here.  josh loves paris but can’t speak french.  christie loves being in new zealand and is still in school.  sam loves his girlfriend who is in new zealand.

i can’t not ask about touring with lorde.  how was your tour with lorde?

a lot of fun!  it was so cool to connect with younger people!  it was sort of strange because we’re not used to that size of venues. lorde was very nice and an amazing performer!

 

what piece of literature that you’ve recently read has stuck with you?

i’m not a huge reader to be honest.  do audio books count?  i really enjoyed this super geeky book about marketing called the long tail which is about niche markets that have boomed after the internet.  it totally applies to a band like us.  the internet has allowed us to connect with thousands of people around the world.  how many generations do you think it will take until the internet is taken for granted and saying things like ‘the internet has allowed us to do x’ will be irrelevant in the same way that our generation growing up doesn’t really talk about how telephones has radically changed communication?

what albums or artists have you been spinning recently, either as a whole or individually?

i’ve been having trouble sleeping so brian eno’s ambient series has been good to me.  i am excited for courtney barnett’s new album; in a way she’s like the jens lekman of australia!  also mourn’s record!  i love the power in that.

you have quite a few shows lined up this month and next, including a handful of sxsw showcases and some european dates.  are there any concrete plans made for yumi zouma further out in 2015?

good things come to those who wait.

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you can find a complete list of yumi zouma tour dates here.  ep ii is out now via cascine; it’s also available digitally through itunes and spotify.

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