For founding members of Christchurch’s own Yumi Zouma (Charlie Ryder, Kim Pflaum, and Josh Burgess), recording Willowbank within their hometown of Christchurch marked the band’s first opportunity to write and record their first album in its entirety within at home in New Zealand. After all, the bandmates had been piecing together their previous efforts via Dropbox primarily because everyone was in other countries.
Listening to Willowbank (released this past October via Cascine), Yumi Zouma’s time in Christchurch during the 2016 holiday season heavily influences the album. The familiar surroundings and the Kiwi traditions are in full bloom with the power pop chords and dreamy melodies.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the members of Yumi Zouma before they went out on their worldwide tour in the early fall. We talked with them about their first shows as a band and their thoughts on the most asked question to them. We also talked about recording Willowbank within a studio that was affected by the 2011 earthquake that caused severe damage, and ultimately took the lives of 185 people.
The band’s first shows were rather incredible: supporting Chet Faker and opening for Lorde. For a group that didn’t plan on ever performing live, what was those experiences like for everyone?
Sam: exciting as it was the first time I’d ever been on tour, I was in a new band, and I’d never played in front of so many people before. My eyes were so bright!
How often does the question regarding meeting and/or knowing Lorde come up to the band?
Christie: almost every phone interview!
During the recording process for EP I, the music was transferred to everyone via email and social media outlets. Was there ever a point during the construction of the EP that going about this method began a hassle=?
Josh: No! Actually, I miss it! It’s great to write together like we do now, but it’s also nice to be able to experiment on things alone while everyone else is half a world away.
With the ability to send/receive files in a variety of ways, do you foresee more bands going about putting albums together this way?
Christie: I think so! We’ve been talking to a lot of bands who do the same thing recently – it seems like it’s becoming a lot more normal.
The band recorded Willowbank in CBD, which remained standing after the devastating series of earthquakes in Christchurch. I can imagine the wide range of emotions surrounding those recording sessions were hard to grasp. What did feel for the group as a whole?
Charlie: it was great for us as we were able to hang out with our friends and families for the first time in a while!
As for Christchurch, what’s the status like with the rebuild as a whole? Is the city starting to show progress?
Charlie: Yes! It’s been slow, but Christchurch is also starting to become more like a city again – it’s cool to see the new restaurants and shops popping up each time we come back.
The release of the band’s first couple of EPs was praised by media critics and people from all around the world. Did the group feel any pressure when recording Yoncalla and now Willowbank?
Sam: No! No time for pressure!
Christie: At first we talked about it, but then decided that if we worried about it too much then the songs would suck.
I read that the band wrote the material for Willowbank pretty quickly. Would you agree that it could be in part due to the band being together so much as of late?
Josh: Well, we’re always writing! We never stop! This was actually the slowest record we’ve ever made! Yoncalla was done much more quickly.
You will be on a worldwide tour this fall. What are you looking forward to most, besides getting the new tunes out to the masses?
Christie: Hanging out with my buds and bandmates! Especially our new friend and drummer Olivia!
For more on Yumi Zouma: