Oxford, Mississippi 4-piece Zoogma are hitting it very hard right now. What the fuck is a Zoogma, you ask? I couldn’t tell you, but they appear to be taking the wildly popular live-electronic music scene by storm. Offering a blend of rock, electronic, and hip hop, each member of the group incorporates both acoustic and sequenced instruments to deliver highly energetic sets. Not afraid to improvise, the group boasts of a strong ability to jam over their detailed beats, too.
Set to perform at this year’s Catskill Chill, taking place in Hancock, NY from September 7-9, the enthusiastic group of musicians are promising to bring the crowd to their feet in a lively display of non-stop dancing and partying. Need proof? All their music is free at their website, so cop yourself a download and check it out for yourself!
I, for one, am very excited to check out Zoogma’s set when they make their way to Hancock… The name alone merits a listen. Prior to their Catskill Chill appearance, I got in touch with bassist Ryan Nall to discuss the group’s sound, influences, life on the road, and the music scene in Oxford.
G- Hey what’s up and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live high Five! I’ve never heard of you guys before today and am intrigued by the name. Can you introduce the members in the group, tell us what everyone plays?
R- Thanks for having me. THE BAND: Brock Bowling (guitar, live sequencing), Matt Harris (drums, live sequencing), Justin Hasting (guitar, synthesizer), and Ryan Nall (bass guitar, synthesizer).
G- Zoogma is a relatively new band, correct? How long have you guys been playing together and when did Zoogma first get started?
R- We started the band in 2008 in Oxford, Mississippi. The current line-up has been playing together for 3.5 years.
G- Ok, you knew it was coming so I have to ask… What the fuck is a Zoogma, and where did the name come from?
R- Zoogma is many things to me: a rock band, a collective of producers, a family. Zoogma was founded as an experimental project, designed to push the envelope, and that’s what we try to do each night. The name is derived from the greek word “Zeugma”, meaning “to join”. We felt that a large part of what this project seeks to do is join elements of electronic and rock music in a new way.
G- You guys hail from Oxford, MS., and I can honestly say I’ve never heard of the city until I heard about your band. Tell us a bit about where you are from, how the scene in Oxford, and how fans are in your hometown.
R- Oxford is a small college town about 50 miles southeast of Memphis.The band was founded when Justin and Matt were attending Ole Miss in Oxford and it grew up around the bar/college scene of the area. We threw house parties, did frat gigs, and toured around the Oxford/Memphis area. We were the first electronic project to develop in our hometown, so we’ve helped cultivate the scene there in many ways.
G- You guys offer up all of your music on your website for free, and that’s pretty rad! Can you tell us a bit about the releases you have out right now? Do you currently have anything in the works?
R- We have a recent release, Wet Hot American Mixtape, that is sort of a “summer sampler” that we wanted to get out for festival season. Kind of a way to let people know what we’ve been working on since our first record, Recreational Vehicles (both available on our site for free). We are going to be doing another small release this fall I think before we head back into the studio for our next full length record.
G- Tell us a bit about your tunes. You guys appear to be very busy when you’re performing… How did the idea of incorporating sequencers and synthesizers with your live instruments come about?
R- We’ve always been a group with a variety of musical interests and influences. We all love to play live traditional instruments like guitars and drums, but we also like to incorporate big synths and sonic landscapes that require a different set of “tools”. I think as musicians our goal is to provide an experience that is truly “live” in that we are constantly either playing our instruments or reworking our sequences.
G- Can you tell us a bit about what is your writing process like? Who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you mostly jam out when you write, or is it more structured?
R- We don’t have a “formula” really; sometimes one (or a few of us) will bring some ideas to the group to add to, sometimes we just will start playing and see what happens. We are blessed in that we all compose music, so ideas (be it a sketch or a near finished product) can come from anyone.
G- What bands would you say have influenced your particular style, and who are you currently listening to when you’re out on the road?
R- Our influences are very broad, but to name a few: Herbie Hancock, Pnuma Trio, Tool, Return to Forever, Radiohead, Primus, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Phish, Perpetual Groove, and many others. Currently we are listening to Lettuce, NetSky, Big Gigantic, Bonobo, DVS, and lots of comedy.
G- You’ll be sharing the stage with a TON of awesome groups when you hit Catskill Chill in September… Are there any bands that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
R- Playing with Umphrey’s at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on 12/29/12 will be a dream come true for me personally. I know that we’d love to play with STS9, Lotus, SCI, and The Disco Biscuits, they are some groups that really shaped who we are and musicians as well as the scene in general.
G- You guys have lots of show coming up so it may change, but can you tell us a bit about the craziest show you’ve played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
R- We did a SCI afterparty in Atlanta and it was our biggest, wildest show to date, it seemed like people were hanging from the rafters. Of course, last friday night in Charleston SC was the hottest, sweatiest, rowdiest party we’ve ever thrown. I think it was like 130 degrees in the club, it was like some crazy ritual designed to induce a vision.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
R- You have to love all of it: making the music, growing the business, living on the road, your bandmates. You have to love it enough to not get discouraged at small turnouts or small paydays. There’s a lot of sacrifice and discipline that goes in to being an artist that a lot of people don’t see on the surface, in many ways it’s a struggle. But it’s all worth it.