I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally acclaimed synth pop Yumi Zouma throughout the nearly nine year history of this site. The act, which is comprised of Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess initially formed in their hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand; however, since the 2011 earthquake that ravaged their hometown and the larger region, the members of the band have been split across different locations across the globe with members spread out in New York, Paris and Christchurch.
Primarily writing and recorded by email, the band wasn’t initially meant to be a live band but they received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a breezy yet bittersweet, 80s synth pop-inspired sound centered around Christie Simpson’s ethereal and tender vocals. Since the release of their Turntable Kitchen released cover of Oasis’ 1995 full-length effort, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the renowned synth pop act released an EP trilogy, with the last EP, the aptly titled EP III being released through their longtime label home Cascine Records last September.
“In Camera,” EP III‘s first single was a swooning bit of synth pop with a soaring hook that sonically nodded a bit at A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran (So Far Away)“, complete with reverb fed instrumentation, a cinematic vibe and a clean, super more production sheen — and while seemingly effortlessly breezy, the song is underpinned by a deliberate and very careful attention to craft, as the members of the band refine each song until it’s absolutely perfect. “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” EP III‘s is centered around thumping beats, a shuffling guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and a sultry and sinuous bass line and while being a hook-driven, dance floor friendly song, it manages to sound as though it were released in 1983 or so, as it recalls Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love” and others.
Interestingly, as the band’s Josh Burgess explains in press notes, “This song began life as an experiment recording with a fellow Kiwi (Liam Finn) at his studio in 2015. The studio was aptly named The End as it was situated at the very end of Greenpoint Avenue overlooking Transmitter Park which was arguably one of the best views of Manhattan at the time. The End hosted a few different studios, including Jacob Portrait’s (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Blouse) who mixed ‘In Camera’ as well as rehearsal spaces (I once walked in on The Congo’s rehearsing!). We smoked on the roof and had a bash at making a song together, which is what we sampled in the verses of ‘Crush’. The working title was ‘First Class Lounge’ because it sounded like some kind of musak that would be playing as background before rich people boarded a Concord.
Unfortunately, The End had a sad finale courtesy of a fire that ripped through the building. Thankfully no one was hurt, but a lot of the gear was wrecked. My girlfriend lives a couple blocks away and over morning coffees we’ll often stroll through Transmitter looking up at the shell of the studio. Like most things in New York it’s relegated to a memory now, but a lot of great music came out of that building!”
Directed by Robbie Barnett and starring Caroline Herbert, Chase Williamson and the members of Yumi Zouma, the recently released video for “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)” came together while the band was in Los Angeles with a few days off during their last Stateside tour. The members of the band brought items and costumes from a local thrift store, and the visuals were shot on the fly — and while cinematic, decadent and noir-ish, the video manages to be contemporary take on the celebrity worship and influencer culture of the Instagram age.
“Much of our historical activity as Yumi Zouma has been focused on building an ethereal sensibility for our listeners, based around our own utopian world,” says the band. “However, Robbie Barnett was the first collaborator who encouraged us to incorporate more abstract hyperreality into this collective consciousness. Growing up in New Zealand, the ideas of LA, Hollywood, and celebrity culture are relatively foreign concepts that exist at a touching distance, which serves to heighten the pull of stardom,” Yumi Zouma continues. “In a sense, the video serves as a gentle reminder to the band, from ourselves — stop watching videos on YouTube, and finish the next Yumi Zouma record.”