Zoogma's Ryan Nall Explains What the F*ck His Band Is About
The live electronic five-piece Zoogma has left its Northern Mississippi home to tear it up all festival season. In between touring, some noteworthy appearances included major festivals like Wakarusa to Camp Bisco X. The quintet uses the auditory diversity and pinpoint musicality of DJs to reproduce a traditional dance music intonation that is porous enough to skillfully dab on traces of rock, jazz, and hip-hop. The result is a high-energy, well-executed sound that continues to evolve and push the boundaries of exploration.
This weekend, the band returns to one of its favorite places to perform. Prior to tonight's performance at Culture Room, Zoogma's Ryan Nall (bass/synthesizer) took some time with County Grind midrun to discuss what the fuck Zoogma actually is and the future of live electronica.
County Grind: Zoogma offered your music for free in the past and plan to do the
same in the future. How important has that approach been in explaining
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your success from a touring perspective?
Ryan Nall: We like the idea of giving our music away for free, and we believe
that has helped expose our music to a lot of people. We believe in our
live show, in the distinctive experience that is a Zoogma performance,
so much so that we feel like if we give away our record, people will be
driven to see the music executed live. We take the material in a lot of
different directions live, freeing it up and improvising, so you get a
similar experience to the album plus a lot more.
Anyone that went to a Florida music festival in the last year is
familiar with your slogan, "What the fuck is Zoogma?" How did that
phrase come about, and is it safe to ask about the enigma?
We started the campaign at Bear Creek 2010 as a way to raise awareness
about our band and festival slot. The viral success of it has been
amazing and more successful than we could have imagined. Now we feel as
though you only ask if you already know, a kind of battle cry of our
fans and mantra of the band. Plus it's always fun to say it at a
festival and see what response you get.
Do you see direct correlations between grassroots marketing and word-of-mouth tactics in regard to the traction Zoogma has gained since the
first studio release?
The fact that last year we started asking people at Bear Creek "What the
fuck is Zoogma?" and now people all over the country use that slogan as
a battle cry at shows makes me think that we're onto something.
You are hopping around the state on a four-night run, including a
date at the Culture Room. What have your experiences been like playing
to the Florida crowds?
Florida has been very good to us, the fans we have here are some of our
most die-hard. Also, as a state in general, the crowds are very grateful
and appreciative and always ready to give us the energy we need to
create the best versions of our music. The festivals we play here -- Bear
Creek, Aura, Blackwater, Purple Hatters Ball, and Big & Hearty -- are
usually some of our rowdier festival sets. The connection between the
crowd and our band is profound. We're very grateful and proud to be a
part of the music tradition here.
Where do you see the future of the live electronica moving in a
world dominated by producers, and more importantly, where does Zoogma
It's tough to say, I believe a lot of the music community have been
surprised by the success and influx of DJs and producers across the
scene. We see it as a good thing that so much electronic music is being
produced and that the genre itself is gaining popularity. We also look
toward the future and see that our live instrumentation and abilities as
producers is what sets us apart and makes our show a more dynamic
electronica experience. Because we can replicate the sound and aesthetic
of a DJ as a group of live musicians, we feel we offer fans of
electronic music a very unique and powerful thing, something they don't
get with most DJs and producers.
Have you ever considered attempting to devolve the mashup technique
back to the instruments and execute that approach to electronic music
with a full band?
Interesting, kind of a live-band Girl Talk concept? It would certainly
be interesting to tackle a project like that as a group. We like
reinterpreting other artists and kind of adding our own Zoogma edge to
their music. We currently have been playing around with a similar
concept. A DJ or producer takes recorded music and remixes it, and we've
been taking DJs' and producers' music and rearranging it for a live
band. We've experimented [with] a Sub-Focus track most recently and have
had a lot of fun realizing their music as a live band. In most cases,
this has never been done before because their music was composed by one
person using a digital audio workstation.
Zoogma. With Sounduo and Beat Thief Inc. 9 p.m. Friday, October 28, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $10. Click here.
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