There’s eclectic, and then there’s Zun Zun Egui. Formed from the cultural primordial soup of Bristol’s avant-garde music scene, they started as a 14 person strong collective, but have since pared down to a strong but flexible quartet. Taking musical flavours from all over the world, they whip up a music sundae that simply tingles with energy and intent. By the time you read this, they will have released their debut album ‘Katana’, a 50 minute whirlwind of intense tropical rock action, that so far has had the critic applauding their efforts.
The Grapevine managed to take some time with drummer Matthew to get the lowdown on what makes them tick.
‘We´re a group of musicians doing what they do best, giving the songs a sense of unity and a more consistent sound’
Hey there Zun Zun Egui! Tell us a little bit about yourself. For example, who are you and what do you get up to in your daily lives. Remember, no detail is too small or banal….
Apart from Zun Zun, which takes up quite a lot of our time, here’s what we do: I teach drums, drool over vintage drums and take a lot of photos (mainly of cats). Yoshino makes beautiful artwork, works in a cafe and plays in a band with her boyfriend Sam. Kushal sells Mauritian Rum, plays a lot of table tennis and Luke dreams of one day owning a brown 1966 Ford Mustang.
How did you come up with the delightfully tasteful name Zun Zun Egui? It’s certainly one of
the more evocative names we’ve seen for a band recently.
Zunzunegui is a Basque family name; Yoshino saw it on a road sign in Bilbao and found it amusing because in Japanese “Zun Zun” means “quick quick” and “Egui” means “horrible” or “weird”.
We won’t have you pin yourself down in a genre, but there is such a global range of
influences in your sound. Acid rock, African music, jazz, funk, and more besides. How do you
manage to blend so many sounds but still keep a form of focus to what you do?
The writing process has varied from tune to tune; Kush might write a single riff or melody, and then bring it to the band to help expand it. This could then go in any number of directions. In another instance, they might write a succession of ideas which, having come from a single source. Finally, and this is quickly becoming my favourite, we jam ideas from scratch and put the whole thing together in rehearsal.
You’re based in Bristol, which has had a long flourishing music scene from the post punk of
The Pop Group, to the 90s trip hop sound, to acts like yourself, Bass Clef and Ekoplekz. What
is about Bristol that fosters such creativity?
Firstly, Bristol is a good size. There is music and other creative work going on in various parts of the city but because it’s small, that work is effectively concentrated. Secondly, the musicians here are ambitious; they’re not content with their music being popular just in Bristol and they work hard to make sure it’s good enough to travel elsewhere too. Thirdly, whether musicians are into specific Bristol acts of the past or present, they’re inspired by those bands’ successes because they demonstrate what’s possible.
You currently have your debut LP, ‘Katang’ coming out on release. How did the writing and
recording for that go? And what’s been the response so far?
Kush and Luke came up with an interesting method of planning the album which I haven’t seen before. They wrote a broad structure for the album quite early on, which detailed concepts for each song in the form of descriptive words, feelings and references. It’s quite a bizarre document to read but you can see how much of it transformed into the music. The recording session was great; we went to Bryn Derwen in North Wales, it’s a beautiful place with mountains all around and the studio had everything we needed, including a great engineer called David Wrench.
You also have your own club night that you run with Qu Junktions called ‘How Come…’. Tell
us a bit about it. How did it all come about? And do you take requests at the DJ booth?
We spend quite a lot of our time travelling around and playing in different venues so it’s great for us to have a place to try out new material where we’re familiar with the sound and the people and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a party. It also enabled us to book a host of great bands and DJs and have a little monthly residency.
And what would you want to tell our readers, to convince them to come to your show
(remember: the more outlandish your claim the more punters you are likely to get)?
I’m going to play drums really fast and really loud (I realise that’s not uncommon for a drummer but I plan to do it with a giant Slátur in each hand). Kush is going to perform in Icelandic national dress, the female version (once I’ve convinced him it’s a good idea). Yoshino will be playing awesome keyboards and looking beautiful.
So is there anything you know about Iceland at all before your trip up here?
It’s hot there right? I’m just packing shades.
Do you have anything special you want to accomplish by coming to Iceland? Are there any other acts playing at Airwaves you want to get a chance to see??
Tuneyards are pretty much the best band ever so I’m going to check them out again. No I’m not – I’ve just looked at the listings and they’re playing at exactly the same time as us! I have to say I’m quite curious about Fist Fokkers, although I’m almost too scared to look them up. In general I’d just like to see some Icelandic bands; as far as I know I’ve never seen one live. I believe Kush is keen to swim in the lagoon.
What’s your favourite type of cheese?
It’s a toss-up between Stilton and Cheddar; I know that’s awfully traditional for a British person but I’ve tried a bunch of different cheeses and these two classics are still winning, hands-down.
Make a five track playlist for Festival goers to listen to while they are here in Iceland during Airwaves. Tell us why each track is there. Your scenario: You’re getting your Party face on as you’re about to head out to Airwaves on a Saturday night…
I did look up Fist Fokkers and watched their video ‘Emilio Estavez’ and it cracked me up, so I think I’ll start with this to get me in the going out mood.
‘Get of my Life Woman’ by Lee Dorsey because it’s got a great slinky groove.
‘Infinity Split’ by Wayne Krantz because it’s ace.
‘Cramm’ by Three Trapped Tigers. I’m not sure I have a party face but I imagine that if I did, this tune might make it appear.
‘Shake’ by Otis Redding – Instant party.
Anything to add?
Are you kidding?
By Bob Cluness