new zealand outfit yumi zouma shared the music video for “second wave” earlier this week, a subdued clip that finds the quartet performing the gorgeous track against a backdrop of equally gorgeous topography. “second wave” is culled from yumi zouma’s succinctly-titled ep ii, which is one of our favorites of 2015. watch the video below.
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.
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.
yumi zouma enjoyed a rather comfortable ascension to prominence throughout 2014. the new zealand-based trio quietly amassed a stellar debut ep while spread across the globe, relying on word of mouth and the sharp foresight of their label, cascine, to pass the word on to the masses. the outfit’s aesthetic rests largely on muted synth production reminiscent of nostalgic 1980s pop augmented by kim pflaum’s breezy vocal melodies; it’s a winning combination that yumi zouma tweaks even closer to perfection on ep ii.
three of the ep’s five songs have been readily available for some time; “alena” was let go last fall in conjunction with yumi zouma’s tour with lorde, and both “catastrophe” and “a song for zoe & gwen” turned up early this year. while all three tracks work extremely well as standalone singles, their context within the ep provides extra dimension of deftness. opener “dodi” continuously pits a hesitant guitar melody against more aggressive, brassy synth pads, which are ultimately calmed by kim pflaum’s breezy vocal melodies. “alena” provides a necessary contrast between “dodi” and “catastrophe,” a persistent four-on-the-floor drum beat propelling the song – and the band – to previously unattained anthemic heights.
the secret linchpin of ep ii is “second wave,” the yumi’s most subdued effort this time around. the marriage of guitar and synth is noticeably more harmonious than on previous songs, and the contours of each line eventually coalesce into relaxing polyphonic bliss. “second wave” segues well into “a song for zoe & gwen,” a grand finale purported to be an ode to school dance dates. it’s here that the trio finally links the nostalgia found in their music directly to the nostalgia contained in their thematic content, crafting a song especially befitting of any john hughes film score.
ep ii reads as another smart and concise outing from yumi zouma. the band’s core members seem content nestled in their respective corners of the world, slowly churning out indelible pop gems. no progressive boundaries are shattered but none are really in need of being broken; yumi zouma has an exceptionally keen ear for charming melodies, and each one is as captivating as the next.
new zealand’s yumi zouma are slated to release their second effort, ep ii, march 10th via cascine. the band has already shared the surging “alena” and the lynchian music video for “catastrophe,” and now they’ve offered up the final cut on the ep, “song for zoe & gwen.” a bit more introverted and muted than its immediate predecessors, “zoe & gwen” falls in line with the band’s earliest material by way of understated guitar textures and a descending vocal melody expertly swaddled in reverb. take a listen below.
alice boman is set to release her sophomore effort, ep ii, on june 3rd via the control group here in the united states. the swedish singer-songwriter relies on a relatively lo-fi aesthetic and powerful vocal delivery throughout most of her music, and “over” is certainly no exception. the second single from ep ii has been on heavy rotation here at dimestore saints for over twenty-four hours, and it will probably get stuck in your head, too. you’re welcome. stream “over” below, courtesy of boman’s soundcloud page.