New York psychedelic-pop quartet Zula create music filled with “hypnotic grooves, sweet melody, and empathy”. The band recently premiered their EP Twin Loss, and have a debut album due out this fall. Founded in September of 2010, it was about time AMBY caught up with the band to talk about the story behind their energetic name, a loving murder fantasy, and the dynamics of there being cousins in the band.
AMBY: Hello Zula, please introduce yourselves to AMBY!
Zula: Hi, we are Zula. We are a psychedelic pop four-piece from New York. We are a New York City band. We get excited about moments that break up normal space time. We dig hypnotic grooves, sweet melody, and empathy.
AMBY: How would you describe each other with one word?
Zula: Mike is orange, Pablo is purple, Nate is blue, Henry is green.
AMBY: Where did the name Zula come from?
Zula: When we were putting the band together two and a half years ago we were looking for a short energetic name. It’s a West African name – there’s a place, a town, called Zula in Eritrea on the Red Sea. Zula, the so-called ‘first Abyssinian cat’ brought from Egypt to England is illustrated in W. Gordon Stables’ aggressively sexist 1874 tome Cats: Their Points and Characteristics. That’s how we first came across the name.
AMBY: Twin Loss is a striking track, what’s the story behind it?
Zula: It’s a murder fantasy, a loving murder fantasy.
AMBY: We love how Twin Loss is methodical in its melody. Who or what inspires you as songwriters?
Zula: Elliott Smith and Neil Young are definitely idols. Those artists were able to sing from such a personal and honest place that listening you feel like you’re touching a part of their soul.
AMBY: Do you find the dynamics of being cousins makes working together easier, or do you butt heads more often because of it?
Zula: We feel pretty lucky to be able to work together – because we know we can count on each other’s love, trust and dedication. Partly because we’re family, we express disagreement and still feel safe – which more often than not helps us make decisions more effectively. But spending years playing in a band with a three other people creates its own powerful kinship too, so our experiences making Zula together shape our personal dynamics more than anything.
AMBY: Has hailing from New York influenced your sound, and if so, how?
Zula: New York has a huge influence on our sound. Beyond its modern pop history, New York to us is a place of living experience, where so many linear existences push their way forward. There’s more life in New York than we could imagine… embracing that multiplicity while creating an identity is the challenge and joy of being here. There is a New York sound that is propulsive and rippling, a bit sardonic, but ultimately welcoming and vital – that’s what we want to be a part of.
AMBY: If you were a heavy metal band who would you be?
AMBY: What’s the funniest thing to happen to you at a gig?
Zula: Nate losing control and tumbling off the stage during the climax of a song at Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, wedging himself between the PA speaker and the wall.
AMBY: What’s the best song of the year?
Zula: Let’s see – Primal Scream “2013”, Kanye West “I am a God”, James Holden “The Caterpillar’s Intervention”, Celestial Shore “Valerie”? We are spoiled this year with so much amazing music.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Zula that nobody knows yet?
Zula: We’re all still teething, and Mike drives a Volvo.
Thank you Zula, for giving us your answers!
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