The formation of the Yumi Zouma sound and fan base has been a worldwide venture. After growing up together in Christchurch, New Zealand, the band members dispersed to Auckland, Paris, and New York, creating the initial Yumi Zouma fabric through emailing files back and forth. Their first EP acquired a significant fanbase before Yumi Zouma had ever played a live show, let alone a first band practice. As they performed sold-out shows on their first tour together, the band completed their full-length debut, Yoncalla, together on the road. One year later, they sought to reunite in their hometown this summer to record their sophomore LP. Following this three-year international whirlwind of emails, new fans, and sold-out shows, Yumi Zouma revisits their origins on Willowbank, out Oct. 6 via Cascine, discovering solace in their home that brought the band together in the first place. PopGun asked Yumi Zouma about their favorite places around the world before their New York show this month.
What was your Christchurch recording studio in New Zealand like?
Fantastic. Coloured mood lighting, a great pizza place one block away, nice rugs. All the vocals recorded there sounded a hundred times better than anything we’d done before. It was brilliant.
What was it like to be together to write and complete an entire record in your home country?
It was peaceful, and I think we were more focused. For me, life was continuing, with work and friends – but for Charlie and Josh being away from their current home cities, their time was almost dedicated solely to being there to work on the album. Even spending so many hours indoors all day in the middle of New Zealand summer, I feel like the New Zealand summer had an impact on us and how the album ended up sounding. We managed to sneak in a few swims in the Lyttelton Harbour so I’m sure that was great for our overall well-being!
Was there a particular spot you frequented as a band during the recording process?
We had dinner at Samurai Bowl a lot – it’s a really really good and cheap Japanese restaurant in the city that serves amazing ramen! We had pizza at aforementioned great pizza place – Winniebagoes – and I think drank a fair amount of coffee from Black Betty and C1.
If you could shoot a music video anywhere, where would it be?
Iceland! I’m dying to go to Iceland and it always looks so good in every film and every photo! The Blue Lagoon, the turf-covered houses, volcanoes – what more could you want? Alternatively maybe MoMA, cause how bloody cool would that be?
Where was the coolest venue you performed at?
We’ve played in some amazing cities around the world but I think one of my favourite venues was here in New Zealand – the Crystal Palace Theatre in Auckland. It’s this huge, grand old building that was once a theatre and then a cinema, but closed down in the 60s with the advent of television. Very ornate and beautiful but also pretty derelict, and had a musty old smell. It had this insane sloped floor. It was incredible.
If you had time to stop at one place while you’re in New York, where would you go?
MoMA! Or maybe Soho for shopping, hah (things are expensive in New Zealand and we don’t have Sephora or Uniqlo!!)
Interview by Natalia Barr