dream a little dream with yumi zouma

The New Zealand band is making beautiful music from opposite ends of the earth with the kind help of chat programs and social media.

by Ilirjana Alushaj
17 December 2014, 6:30am

{Johanna Macdonald

Yumi Zouma are a three-piece band whose origins lie in the gentle suburbs of New Zealand. Coming to our attention this year due to their breezy, dream-like sound, the band is working towards carving a name for themselves beyond their Lorde co-sign.

Despite your band living all around the globe at this moment, you began life in New Zealand. How did you guys meet?
Well Kim and Charlie originally met by chance on an airplane on the way to an NZ's annual Big Day Out music festival, whilst Josh and Charlie met going head to head in the band competition Rockquest. We then began hanging out in Christchurch, drawn together by our shared love of indie pop and psych rock.

Did your similar musical tastes lead you to begin a band together?
Actually we each had our own separate bands to begin with, but over time we took stabs at playing in each other's bands until life took us in different directions - Josh to New York, Charlie to Paris and Kim on a trek of the world. But the music never stopped - and so, we happened to create Yumi Zouma quite by chance by sending demos to each other through the iCloud.

Does this method make writing as a band difficult?
No not really as we pretty much have the same setups in each location gear-wise and we just email each other ideas and snippets of songs, continually building on them until we feel they're finished.

Now that your debut is out, in retrospect, how do you all feel about the process and result?
The process was very strange for us - with our other bands, we'd toured and built up a repertoire of songs before going into a studio to record them. However, with Yumi Zouma, we did one song, found a record label, and then had to write more songs one after another until we had an EP. We weren't expecting anyone to listen to it, so it was a huge surprise that the records sold out and so many people listened to the tracks online.

You're also coming off a year of touring. How did you enjoy that?
We just played a New Zealand tour with Lorde as well as Iceland Airwaves festival and a few dates in London and the US. This tour was pretty special as we got to play to large crowds for the Lorde shows, which were comprised of lots of enthusiastic young teens guaranteeing a great show each night. Iceland was a unique place with really nice people and buzzy landscapes.

What were the highlights?
The most heroic moment was when Josh totally put a whole team of Virgin America staff in their place for trying to charge us for oversize luggage. Short story is, after much reluctance, he convinced one guy to find a tape measure and measure our guitars only to discover they were at least 20 inches off being 'oversize'. Josh saved us at least $300 for that, not to mention pulling out the best burn to date.

And with all this touring abroad do you get the feeling that Yumi Zuoma are a band that sound particularly New Zealand-ish? Does your musical heritage inspire the band?
We are definitely influenced by NZ music and we all have overlapping Kiwi faves, but it's not something we consciously do. We do however feel the NZ love - especially at home in Christchurch - which makes our parents proud.

What then would you say inspires your music?
We all have quite broad musical tastes and we can be inspired by all manner of things - from an 80s synth tone, to a top 20 pop song hook or a banging house beat. Non-musical inspirations for us include: chatting over Gmail, chatting over Skype, watching films and being around friends and family.

Has there been any advice given during your career that you will always remember?
"If you can do what you do best and be happy, you're further along in life than most people."

So if we run with this advice, are you happy enough to see yourselves doing this forever?
Well we currently live double lives as being full-time musicians is a difficult feat! Josh works for the record label Flying Nun, Charlie is finishing his masters in Economics, while Kim is a freelance graphic designer and writer. Forever is a long, long time - so who knows!

Yumi Zuma SoundCloud


Text Ilirjana Alushaj
Photography Johanna Macdonald