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NZ’s Yumi Zouma Announce New Album ‘Present Tense’

Press Release – The Label

Beloved New Zealand alternative pop band Yumi Zouma today announce their fourth studio album, Present Tense, due out March 18 on [PIAS] Australia, and share latest single ‘In the Eyes of Our Love’.

Mixed by Kenny Gilmore (Weyes Blood, Sudan Archives), ‘In the Eyes of Our Love’ is the third single previewed off the upcoming Present Tense. It follows the previously released ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Give It Hell,’ which garnered praise from NME AU, The Partae, Happy Mag, received rotation adds across Double J, 2SER, Radio One Dunedin and was spun on triple j’s 2021 with Richard Kingsmill.

Throughout their fourth LP, which follows 2020’s acclaimed album Truth or Consequences, Yumi Zouma expand on their established dream pop sound with defiance and a palpable sense of urgency, drawing on collaboration to push the four-piece out of their comfort zone, looking to explore the extreme edges of their music, resulting in their most formidable release to date.

Seemingly twice as fast as any prior Yumi Zouma single, the thrilling, lively ‘In the Eyes of Our Love’ stands closer to the classic rock strut of Dire Straits than the ethereal, understated aesthetics that the band has built their career on so far. Crashing in hard from the outset, drummer Olivia Campion’s pulsating backbeat sends the accompanying band into a buoyant revelry that holds and holds, only breaking upon arriving at the first bridge, when Christie Simpson sings: “But we won’t lose sight of what we said / I’ll sing from the dirt instead.”

Accompanying ‘In the Eyes of Our Love’ is the first in a trilogy of videos for Yumi Zouma’s upcoming singles helmed by director Alex Ross Perry, known for collaborations with Soccer Mommy, Sleigh Bells and Vivian Girls, as well as writing and directing a number of feature films, including 2018’s Her Smell.

Watch ‘In The Eyes of Our Love’ Here

On his approach to the project, Perry shares: “Agreeing to make three interconnected videos was something I should have thought about for longer than fifteen seconds before agreeing to it. The anxiety of conceptualizing a small story, that can be told without dialogue, and set to music, gripped me from the moment my video call with the band ended. Their thoughts were excellent, specific, and unachievable with the time and resources I would be able to pull together.”

“But I began to feel inspired by the concept of taking these vast ideas and situating them within a single location, transforming the aesthetic, visuals and mood to match the three different songs,” he continues. “My only chance for success was to rely heavily on a great cast and crew to create these spaces and film them in a way that felt consistently alive and unique. Fortunately for me, they all over delivered.”

‘In The Eyes Of Our Love’ – (Official Video)

The theme of isolated togetherness and distant creativity has been a throughline for the band throughout their career. Originally formed in New Zealand, the members of Yumi Zouma now come together from around the globe: New York City (Josh Burgess – guitar, vocals), London (Charlie Ryder – guitar, bass, keys), Christchurch (Christie Simpson – vocals, keys) and Wellington (Olivia Campion – drums). And while you may assume that this global spread held their creative process in good stead for the realities of COVID-19 – the opposite proved to be true.

Without looming tour dates driving them to release new music, the prolific band found themselves at a standstill. So they set a date. By September 1st, 2021, the album needed to be finished, regardless of whether they’d be able to tour it or even meet to record together. With a mix of remote and in-person sessions in studios in Wellington, Florence, New York, Los Angeles, and London, what began in fits and starts became a committed practice again as Yumi Zouma dug through demos from as early as 2018 to collaborate on and make relevant to the peculiar moment in time the band, and world, was experiencing. “The lyrics on these songs feel like premonitions, in some regards,” Simpson reflects. “So much has changed for us, both personally and as a band, that things I wrote because the words sounded good together now speak to me in ways I didn’t anticipate.”

Bringing in new collaborators from different disciplines and from around the globe, the band enlisted disparate friends to contribute pianos, saxophones, woodwinds, pedal steels and strings, multiple mixers in Ash Workman (Christine & The Queens, Metronomy), Kenny Gilmore and Jake Aron (Grizzly Bear, Chairlift), and recruited the mastering expertise of Antoine Chabert (Daft Punk, Charlotte Gainsbourg) for the first time. In the end, two years away from the road and the bustle of touring life proved beneficial for the group, affording a new appreciation for the friendship they’ve sustained and the opportunity an abundance of time off-cycle offered. “We used to run on adrenaline, and if a song wasn’t working we’d just nip it in the bud and move on. This process gave us the opportunity to really sit with songs and rethink them until they felt like they belonged in the collection,” Burgess says.

There’s a defiance heard throughout Present Tense, a refusal to bend to what might seem fated, communicated not only through lyrics but in the boldness of these arrangements, metamorphosing between tracks without ever losing momentum. Dedicated to an embattled past, Yumi Zouma’s fourth album is the band’s offering to a tenuous future. “To 2020, and the memory of all that was lost,” they write in the album’s liner notes. “Kia Kaha.”


Photo credit: Aaron Lee & Alex Evans

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