This July saw the release of Yoko-Zuna's long awaited debut album'This Place Here'. The album feature's a who's who of guests, such as David Dallas, Rodney Fisher, Bailey Wiley, Melodownz and Spycc.
The lead single ‘Revival' feat. Team Dynamite has been garnering top plays across a number of the country's bNets, with the video featuring an epic cartoon battle between the two different outfits.
Consisting of Frank Eliesa (Keyboards, Synths, Bass), Swap Gomez (Drums, Percussion, Samples), Kenji Holdaway (Guitar, FX, Bass,) and JY Lee (Saxophone, Flute, FX), I had a chance to sit down with Swap & Kenji to find out some more about this intriguing outfit.
How did Yoko-Zuna form?
Swap: I guess we were like session musicians, playing for different people. It started with me and Frank (Eliesa) our keys player. It kind of turned into us wanting to do get away from that... being a session artist you don't really get to do any creative things. So it wasn't a bad thing but we wanted to do something that was our own style.
We were hosting this jam night at a bar called Rakinos and Kenji came up with his guitar and started jamming, then JY (Lee) came up one night who is our saxophone player. He played and then after that we didn't see him for probably about six months. Kenji said he'd be a perfect fit for our new project. So yeah, it kind of started as an idea just to do something a bit different.
What's the story behind the name?
Swap: We had heaps of trouble coming up with a name that suited the music we were making. I'm a huge fan of wrestling, WWE. So when we were looking for a name I looked to my other passion which was wrestling, and started naming wrestling moves... like ‘suplex' and all these different names. And then I said the wrestler ‘Yokozuna' and these guys loved it. It kind of just stuck after that. Kenji's half Japanese but it didn't really come from that...
Kenji: I guess that can kind of justify it a little bit (laughs)
Your first single released was Revival. What was it like working with Team Dynamite?
Kenji: We'd done quite a bit of work with them as session musicians. So we wrote the track and we thought they could be a really good fit for it. It was quite different to the beats that they usually work on, and they did a great job.
Swap: I think it was a little peculiar for them because they didn't know what kind of style we'd hit them with. It started off with a bass line that Frank came up with, and that the beginning we didn't actually think about having a feature on it. But then we thought the perfect fit would be Team Dynamite, because their rapping style is really kind of spitfire fast paced. The track is like a running through the jungle kind of thing. Once they jumped in we didn't even really have to say anything, they just came and did their thing and just loved it.
You have a lot of guests on the album from David Dallas to Rodney Fisher... quite diverse artists.
Kenji: Diverse artists for a diverse album. We had no preset criteria for our album, we didn' havet ‘this sound' or ‘that sound'. So we just wrote as a free for all, and because of that we ended up with so many different styles. Every track is almost a different genre. So it's interesting having these different artists on the tracks.
How did you get these guys on board?
Swap: We had Bailey (Wiley) and MeloDownz from 3rd Eye in mind before hand. The main reason being because we had this live session; a jam session that we filmed and recorded - and that actually led to the album, and from there we knew we wanted to do a track with them. Those two tracks were kind of like a given. When it came to the other songs we were kind of fishing out who to get. We had so many names, some people couldn't do it because they were so busy doing other things at the time... or it was different to what they were use to and struggled with it a little bit, and some of the song structures aren't traditional. When Dave (David Dallas) jumped on he was supposed to be the only feature on the track initially. And then we thought it would be so cool to get another rapper to do another verse, and that's when we got Spycc.
Kenji: They kind of feed off each other...
Swap: Yeah, they compliment each others verses. Rodney Fisher was probably one of our first picks as well. The opening track; the intro to the whole album is kind of this swishy swoshy Pink Floyd kind of stuff. And he comes from that traditional rock sort of background, and we thought his breathy voice would be awesome. So he came in, did that and he was cool.
Where did you record the album?
Kenji: We recorded the majority of it at Delete Media. Things that didn't quite need studio atmosphere like guitars & keys so those were done at home.
Who handled the production duties on the album?
Swap; Our main recording engineer, Cam Duncan, handled a lot of the production. I'd say it was probably 60/40... 40% we'd be helping him out while he took the reigns. Because all the tracks are really different to each other his production kind of makes it more coherent. If you listen to the album from start till finish it doesn't feel like a whole different band, there's still that stuck together kind of feeling.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2015?
Swap: We've got plans for a few summer festivals, we'd definitely like to get on that sort of circuit. We'd like to play to as many audiences as we can.
Kenji: We also want to write more music. We're always jamming and working out new things.
Can you describe your sound?
Kenji: Yeah, we kind of have. What we came up with was ‘Electronic Progressive Hip-Hop'. A few more influences, but that's the general sound I guess.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
The wait is almost over as Auckland City Limits is set to take place this Saturday (March 3rd) at Western Springs Stadium. Included on the bill are one of France’s most famous four-piece band's Phoenix.
“I find inspiration from people who are trying to do something different. There's a lot of producers trying to copy each other, eg Terror Squad. But it’s really cool to hear guys like SumthinSumthin, completely unchallenged in their own lane.” – Graham Matthews
John Butler Trio announce their return to New Zealand in March to play Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre on Saturday 2 March and an afternoon set outdoors at The Hunting Lodge in Waimauku, Auckland on Sunday 3 March.
British rock royalty Arctic Monkeys have ushered in a spectacular new era with their sixth studio album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, and it has now been announced that the band will return to New Zealand for a mammoth arena show in March 2019.
Californian rock legends Jefferson Starship will join TOTO and Dragon on next year’s ‘A Summer’s Day Live’ series, which will take in some of the most picturesque locations and popular concert venues across New Zealand.
In celebration of the highly anticipated November release of their fourth studio album Delta,English folk conquerors Mumford & Sons today announced details of a massive 60 date world tour which will include a very special one day event in Auckland this Summer –their first New Zealand show since 2015!
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Following the release of her critically-acclaimed My Design, On Others Lives in April this year, Estère teams up with the poetically tongued NZ/Rwandan MC Raiza Biza, to take on the myth of an infamous figure in cross-continental African folklore, the Tokoloshe.
If Anika Moa was feeling ready to kick back for the remainder of 2018, then things haven’t really run to plan. In fact it’s about to get a whole lot busier for the multi-talented entertainer with a new album release, tv series and live shows all on the way.
Since achieving international recognition from Rollingstone.com and Billboard.com for hit singles Too Strung Up and Stone Cold, and amassing over 3 million Spotify streams for their releases to date, Alae now unveil All Gived Up.
'Call Me', the latest track by Wellington electro-pop singer and producer Josie Moon made last week's New Music Friday playlists from Spotify Australia/NZ and Japan and influential UK blogger Popjustice.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.
It has been announced overnight that Last Tapes Theatre Company's original production Valerie has been selected for a month-long season in the prestigious Summerhall programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.
Featuring Brouhaha: choreographer Malia Johnston, composer Eden Mulholland, AV designer Rowan Pierce; In Transit: choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant, composer/AV designer Paddy Free; The Geography of an Archipelago: choreographer Stephen Shropshire, composer Chris O’Connor.
The last hurrah of the Comedy Fest! The Season Finale! The bit at the end where the awards are decided, everybody relaxes and much fun is had. It’s the titled Last Laughs on Sunday 20 May at SkyCity Theatre.
The 13th Annual Doc Edge, International Documentary Film Festival opens today - Wednesday 9th May at Wellington’s Roxy Cinema followed by Auckland’s Q Theatre on Wednesday 23rd May, bringing an influx of prestigious directors and documentary subjects from all over the world.