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Introducing... Boy Azooga

I first saw Boy Azooga when they supported Estrons at The Cookie earlier this year, they absolutely blew me away that night. Their latest single 'Face Behind Her Cigarette' is an undeniable instant classic. Mixing some really unique, distant and distorted vocals with some expert guitar playing. It works in such a way that everything smoothly intertwines into one wonderfully exquisite song. After listening you would be mistaken to think this is already a well established band, but they're still grinding their way to the top and they've already found their perfect niche and their perfect sound. I was lucky enough to chat to the band about The Little Rascals, William Onyeabor & more...

Question. Firstly, where does the strangely unique name 'Boy Azooga' come from? 
Boy Azooga: The name is basically a tribute to my cousin Chris Bainbridge. He plays in the Edinburgh band Man Of Moon. They're class, check them out. Growing up we used to watch the film 'The Little Rascals' at our Gran's house in Scotland. In the film, the kids gang have a chant that goes "Azooga zooga zooga!". We still say it to each other these days. I wanted to call it Bo Azooga after Bo Diddley but settled on Boy Azooga eventually. Its really google-able too! I typed the name into google before we had any internet presence or whatever and nothing came up so I thought we'd be easy to find.

Q. Face Behind Her Cigarette is a phenomenal tune, what's the story and message behind that?
BA: Thanks so much! Its an homage (rip-off) of William Onyeabor's music. I love the rhythms and adventurous sounds in his music. Eddie (who produced the record) and I made the percussion purposefully a bit too loud like in Onyeabor's music, you can hear the bells of the tambourines jingling even when they're not being played, but to me it makes you feel like you're in the space that the music is being made. I think the song is just about being in awe of someone or something beautiful.

Q. When you go into the studio does it come easy for you guys or is it a struggle? 
BA: This was a studio project for about 5 years before it became a band. I was playing drums in other bands for years but writing songs and was really excited to get my ideas down. It came easy because I'd built up a load of material that I was desperate to get down. Eddie's studio is amazing as well, he's got so many great instruments that there is always some exciting sound to try out. It still can be a struggle though, like when you can't quite get a sound right or you're unhappy with the arrangement. I always try to have the song fully formed on an acoustic guitar or keys before I go into the studio. I think songs should still be able to stand up on their own without decoration.

Q. What comes first for you; the lyrics or the music? 
BA: It changes to be honest, some times I'll have a long list of lyrics in the notes on my phone, other times I'll have a fully formed melody and chord structure but spend about two years trying to write the lyrics. I wish it all came at once!

Q. What made you guys release a joint vinyl with Buzzard? 
BA: We just absolutely love Tom and his great songs. He works really hard and knows exactly how he wants things to sound. We're into a lot of the same stuff and it felt like a good fit. We're really grateful to Rich Chitty at Bubblewrap Collective for putting out our music.

Q. The cover for that vinyl is pretty mad, how did that come about? 
BA: One of my good mates Craig Shankland has an instragram account called 'trashman art', check it out, his work is so good. He's been doing posters and merch for us since our first gig last December. Tom Rees from Buzzards girlfriend, Carlota Nobrega, is good friends with Craig and also makes amazing art, you can see some here. The two met up and created the glam weirdo's that you see on the cover. Every time I look at it I find something new and laugh

Q. Also, is it any more special to have your music in that physical format rather than just a download? 
BA: Absolutely! Before Boy Azooga was even a band all I wanted to do was make a record I was really proud of and hold it, so it means a lot to be able to hold the vinyl and share it with people. I still download and stream music but for me it means so much more to have a physical copy.

Q. There's a phenomenal amount of talent coming out of Wales at the moment, how special is it to be a part of that and see that rise? 
BA: Its really exciting. Wales has always produced incredible music but it does feel like at the moment there is a particularly good amount of bands and artists coming out. Also, it feels like people are collaborating more and playing in each others bands and that sense of community feels great to be a part of. Hopefully it will continue for a long time!

Q. On the same note, who are your favourite artists coming out of Wales?
BA: I'm worried I'm gonna miss some out but off the top of my head there's Buzzard, Estrons, Monico Blonde, Castles, Darkhouse Family, Jessy Allen, Esther Taylor, Afro Cluster, Harri Davies, Men On The Chessboard, Shoebox Orchestra, D D Darillo, Chroma, Sock, Himalayas, Phalcons, Rainbow Maniac, Vega Bodegas, Adwaith, Zac White, Aeddan, Ffug, HMS Morris, Jaxson Payne Trecco Beis, Mirror Gorillas, My Name Is Ian, The Kicks, The Tates, Hotel Del Salto. There's too many! We love classic Welsh artists like Super Furry Animals, Keys, Gorkys and Badfinger too of course!

Q. What music are you listening to at the moment? 
BA: Lately I've been listening to Andy Shauf, Cornelius, Bernard Herrmann, N.E.R.D and Deerhunter.

Q. And you recently supported Estrons on their UK tour, what was that like for you? 
BA: It was an amazing opportunity and we're really grateful to have been asked to do it. It was our first tour and first time in most of the cities we played. I feel like we learnt a lot in terms of engaging the crowd more and putting on a show. Getting to watch Estrons play each night was inspirational too, they work really hard and make such great music. The energy they give off is infectious, the crowds were really into it.

Q. You guys have so much energy on stage, it's clear you have a passion for what you do, what first ignited that love? 
BA: We all grew up just obsessed with music. The other boys Daf, Dylan, Sam and I have been in different bands for years. I couldn't really concentrate in school because I was too busy drawing pictures of Slash and RUN DMC in my books. I think the moment it really became a love for me was when my Dad brought home a VHS of Queen's greatest flix. I was playing along to that tape badly when I was 7 on a biscuit tin with cricket stumps. I knew I wanted to do it from a really early age.

Q. Do you put pressure on yourselves to create such a great live performance or does it come easily for you? 
BA: We rehearse all the time and think its important to be tight and put on a good show. I always think back to what it was like going to my first gigs and that excitement you feel. Hopefully that translates to some people at our gigs. We do have a couple of jam sections in the set just to keep it fresh and stop the set going stale. We all feel comfortable with playing live because we've done it with other projects for a long time, but we definitely put pressure on ourselves to hopefully make the next performance better than the last.

Q. What's your favourite thing about gigging? 
BA: Its such a cliche but it is amazing to feel a connection with people while you're playing songs. If people are dancing or smiling then it just lifts you up. We had a guy crowd surf at one of our gigs the other day. It was the best! That's something I've dreamt about happening at our gigs. Ive been the guy crowd surfing at other peoples shows many times so it was great to be on the other side watching it happen!

Q. And, what is your favourite ever gig? 
BA: Favourite gig I've ever been to was Brian Wilson at Primavera with my girlfriend. His music means a lot to us as we both grew up listening to it. He played the whole of Pet Sounds from start to finish and he seemed really happy doing it. It was amazing!

Q. Finally, what's next for the band and what's the masterplan for Boy Azooga? 
BA: We've just been signed to Heavenly Records which I still cant believe! We're doing a headline gig in Cardiff at The Transport Club on November 30th. Then we're off to Manchester Deaf Institute to support The Orielles on December 8th. Last gig of the year is at The Shacklewell Arms with Orb from Australia. We've also got lots of music coming out very soon. Can't wait to share it with you!

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  1. A massive thanks to you for two very big things. First, thanks for introducing me to boy azooga - these guys are exceptional. Unique musically, and very strong lyrically, this is fantastic. Secondly, thanks for partaking in such an excellent interview - always great to find out about the guys behind the music!


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