Photo Credit: Aaron Lee
It feels like years have passed since I shot questions over to Yumi Zouma. Then they were on the heels of releasing their third album, ‘Truth or Consequences,’ and starting a new set of dates. However, reality had other plans for them (and the rest of the world) due to the coronavirus pandemic that’s caused everyone to take a seat wait. They managed to play one of their scheduled shows before the rest of them were canceled.
“We were heartbroken as we were so excited to do the tour – it was our first tour where every show was sold out. And in terms of new places, it was our first time playing Treefort Music Festival in Boise. They’re rescheduling for a later date though, so hopefully, we’ll get another chance this year,” said their own Charlie Ryder adding, “We have no idea. We’re all at home under lockdown. We’re going to try and do another run of shows for later in the year, but we have no idea how long this Coronavirus outbreak will last for. It’s an extremely uncertain time for us. But we know we’ll be back because, at some point, COVID 19 can’t stop ‘Truth or Consequences’ from reaching the world.”
While we all hold onto hope that we’re back to our regularly scheduled lives sooner than later, get to know more about Yumi Zouma’s sound, teenage hair woes, and more with not only Charlie but Christie Simpson.
Kendra: When you’ve got members from around the world coming together, does your sound pull from where you each originally called home, or do you guys focus more on where you’ve been together as a group?
Charlie: Our music references the places we’ve been to a lot as a group (recording on Southwark St, staying in Yoncalla, etc), but the sound is definitely inspired by New Zealand. Coming from such an isolated country at the bottom of the world, your music tastes are infinitely more shaped by local bands, as they are usually the only bands you can go see live, except on rare occasions. Therefore we were shaped a lot by the local tours and festivals put on by people like Blink from A Low Hum, and bands that were popular when we were teenagers, such as The Mint Chicks, Cut Off Your Hands, Conan and The Mockasins, and the Shocking Pinks.
Going back further than that, it’s hard for a New Zealand band not to be influenced by the icon artists of previous eras such as the Jean-Sartre Experience, Split Enz, and The Chills. But first and foremost, our fellow Christchurch artist Bic Runga is someone we regard as being at the pinnacle of songwriting. Her album ‘Beautiful Collision’ is one of the best albums ever, and will influence us for as long as we live.
Kendra: For ‘Truth or Consequences,’ the overall lyrical content is more universal than anything. Songs of heartbreak and distance between people on an emotional level hold this record up. Do you have any song in particular on the album that you were nervous about releasing due to the memories it would bring back to you in the long run?
Christie: That’s a really good question – because yes, there are definitely a few songs on ‘Truth or Consequences’ that talk about some emotional and weird times from my recent past. We started working on this album back in 2017, and since then my circumstances have shifted quite significantly from what I was going through at that time.
I’ve been through a breakup, a long-distance relationship, and a bunch of casual weird flings in the interim. So it does feel a little strange to dredge my relationship issues up again to talk about in interviews and for press releases, but I also feel this weird universal application of some of the themes I wrote about – a lot of these songs still feel relevant to what’s happening in my life currently.
On our most recent single, “Southwark,” there are some lyrics in there about the way I felt about a boyfriend I was living with at the time, that kind of long-standing love and dedication you have in a long-term relationship even through the complications. Me saying “I am imperfectly yours” – even though our relationship felt like it was nearing its end, and even though ultimately it didn’t work out – it feels like a dedication I’d make to anyone I’m with. Everything happens in cycles I suppose, relationship and love life struggles will always be on-going – and although every man is different, ultimately I am the same person in every relationship (to some degree!)
Kendra: Let’s talk about “Cool for a Second,” or rather actually being cool for a second. Looking back at your younger selves, was there any trend you found yourself falling prey to as a child or a teen just because it was the “cool” thing to do? Be it wearing something, having a certain toy, liking a particular band?
Christie: Oh boy. My family moved to the Sunshine Coast of Australia for two years when I was 11 and 12. Everyone at school was naturally tanned, hair bleached blonde from the sea and the sun, naturally athletic, and loved surfing. I was none of those things. I was a pale, dark-haired kid who loved being indoors and playing ‘Sims.’
But starting high school in Kawana, the pressure to fit in was immense – so I managed to convince my mum that I should bleach my hair blonde. We did a classic at-home job and it looked awful – golden straw yellow. I think I rocked it for a bit before the regrowth set in and dyed it back to my natural brown. At least I got to live out my Mary-Kate and Ashley/Hilary Duff dreams to some degree for a minute there! Now I pay a hairdresser to put a bit of blonde in there the fancy, proper way!
Kendra: ‘Truth or Consequences’ is your third album and with that, you’ll be focusing more on the new material it provides, but are there any songs from your previous two records that should never be jealous of new material coming in and filling new setlists?
Charlie: There are never any songs that are completely safe when you’ve released nearly 50 tracks like we have, but we always try and keep a balanced set of songs from all of our releases. It’s always a consideration as to whether new fans will know our old songs or whether old fans care for our new material, so we try and switch as much as possible to keep both sets of fans happy. We won’t be playing a set full of tracks from the new album on our release tour!