Yumi Zouma

Few artists find a committed fanbase without having ever played live, but in 2014, Yumi Zouma endeared themselves to listeners before their first band practice. Following a four-song EP that immediately caught people’s attention, the act’s inbox filled with requests from publicists and booking agents, long before they saw themselves as a real band. Everything they’d created had been online, passing files back and forth between Christchurch, Paris and New York. Thrust into the spotlight, their first live performances were in sold-out Australian theatres supporting Chet Faker, after which they headed back to New Zealand to open for Lorde on her post-Grammy winning homecoming tour.

Buoyed by the response to EP I and much positive coverage of lead single ‘The Brae’, which Pitchfork described as “an effortless cascade of echoing riffs and enchanting harmonies converging into a mirage of dream-pop purity,” the band released a second EP and went to work on Yoncalla – their wistful full-length debut.

With Yoncalla, Yumi Zouma took their first steps towards becoming a proper band, collaborating and completing songs together on the road. The result was both cathartic and confessional, winning praise from critics for being “beautiful but curiously detached,” and “pop that shimmers and grabs you when you’re least expecting it to.” In addition to the album’s three singles, tracks ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Text From Sweden’ became fan favourites, helping the Yumis sell out shows in Tokyo, London, Paris and New York. The Yoncalla campaign saw the band tour extensively and begin to hone a live show that’s become one of their vital assets.

A year later, the members of Yumi Zouma settled on a plan to head home for the New Zealand summer and record their sophomore album, Willowbank, their latest offering. To complete what would become their first significant work written and recorded entirely in their home country, they rented a studio in Christchurch’s semi-demolished CBD, on one of the few remaining blocks that still characterises the city from before it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes.

After taking his bedroom recordings to the next level with a full band in Jonquil, Oxford-based Hugo Manuel went back to recording as a solo artist under the name Chad Valley. Jonquil signed to Dovecote Records in the States and, around the same time, Manuel leaked a handful of dreamy, Ibiza and R&B-inspired electro-pop demos to the Web. A flock of sites (including Vice, Pitchfork, and Guardian) featured Chad Valley's "Up and Down" and "Acker Bilk" in the summer of 2010. Manuel continued to play with Jonquil, and debuted his self-titled EP later that year. In 2011, Chad Valley released Equatorial Ultravox, and then branched out with 2012's Young Hunger, which featured a long list of indie A-list collaborators including Twin Shadow, Glasser, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and Active Child. His sophomore album will be released in October 2015.

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