In Conversation With: Boy Azooga

by Iona Evans and Hannah Nicholson-Tottle, May 06, 2018

Ahead of their closing, sold out gig in Clwb Ifor Bach, we caught up with the man behind the Cardiff-based, indie-rock sound that is Boy Azooga.

From supporting Blaenavon in a 350 cap venue to being played on Huw Stephens BBC Radio 1 show, they're here, and they’re only getting louder. 

After writing and recording their debut album ‘1, 2 Kung Fu’ over a number of years, 2018 already has so much waiting for them, including Green Man Festival, Live At Leeds, and their very own tour. 

We caught up with Davey before their homecoming show to talk King Giz, tour highlights and what the summer holds for Boy Azooga…

So how’s the tour been? Any highlights?

Really good, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been our first ever headline tour, so there's been a lot of learning as we go. But it’s just really flattering that we go to Bristol or wherever and there are people there to see us. It’s just been amazing, to be honest, and we can’t wait to finish up in Cardiff tonight.

Southampton was a really unexpected highlight because I haven’t played Southampton at all, in any of the bands I’ve been in. And it was a Wednesday night, so we thought it might be a little bit dry. But we got on stage and the crowd were super into it, they were just so up for it. It’s where my dad’s from, he grew up in Shirley in Southampton, I said that on stage and I got a load of brownie points.

A bit like a homecoming, without the home?

Yeah, it was! My grandad was an usher all his life in this theatre, so it was really nice. It was just really cool.

What did you get up to on Record Store Day?


 
On RSD I was in Bristol at midday, Spillers Cardiff at 3 o’clock, drove to Newport to do a solo gig at 7, then drummed for a band called The Keys at 10. But I managed to put my phone in the washing machine whilst I was leaving the flat. My girlfriend was in the car saying “Are you ready to go? We need to go!”, and I was like “Yeah I’m just looking for my phone”.

Then she told me “It’s on the bed”, and I was like “Uhhh I just put the sheets in the washing machine”. So the washing machine was spinning and my phone was just at the front like “Help me” and there was fuck all I could do about it. It was just awful. But great day otherwise.

We hear that you’re playing Le Pub in June, what do you think of the Newport music scene? It’s a bit of an underdog, don’t you think?

Yeah we’re playing Le Pub in June (16th) and I can’t wait to play, I haven’t been to the new Le Pub, but I’ve played the old one. It was amazing. I think the Newport music scene is brilliant. I don’t really know that much about what’s going on there now.

But every time we do a gig there, there’s just such a good vibe and people just really listen to you and really enjoy it. I just really love Newport. There’s just such a rich musical heritage there too. It is an underdog, but I think it should be celebrated.

What festivals are you playing this year? What one are you most looking forward to playing?

We’re doing London Calling in Amsterdam, that’s our first one, The Great Escape, Blue Dot, End of the Road, Green Man, See Change, Paul Eliot, uhh yeah lots of festivals! That’s really hard, but I think Green Man is pretty special.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are also playing, do you have a project going with them? We saw something on Instagram…

No man I wish, that would be insane, that’s the dream. I did meet them though. So, there’s this thing with Heavenly, where they do this thing called ‘The Heavenly Weekender’, up in this place called Hebden Bridge. It’s this weird little magical town in the North of England, really weird and psychedelic. It’s just not really like anywhere else in the UK. It’s surrounded by loads of trees and bridges and rivers.

They do this thing in the Trades Club, which is an independently run venue. And yeah King Gizz played Brixton Academy two nights before to however many thousand people, and The Trades Club holds like 200 people, so seeing them in a 200 cap venue was insane. I was walking around the village in the day, and I looked in the chip shop and I saw Stu, the singer, just ordering some food. And because he’s this like super tall handsome, Australian guy, like really tanned and long hair.

And I just ran over to him! I was like “Stu! You’re one of my heroes!” and he was just like “Hey safe man.” And I had a picture with him, and we spent loads of time with him. Honestly to do a project with them would be a dream.

What kind of project would you do?

I don’t know, I really wanna do a film soundtrack. Something quite cinematic and instrumental. They did do something on their second album I think, I wish I could remember, but they did a soundtrack to a Country and Western film, so I’d like to explore that a bit more. But I’d just do whatever he says basically. I wouldn’t be like “We’re doing this!” I’d most definitely go with whatever they want to do.

Your music videos are very aesthetically pleasing as is your music, do you think those two things bounce off of each other?

Totally yeah! It’s a cliché but when I’m writing a song, I kind of picture, even if it’s not a video, but some kind of scene or mood in my head. Or I can weirdly see these chunks of music in my head, it’s really weird. But I’ll visualise the drumming part while it’s happening. It sounds really strange.

But I definitely think visually. But I’m not a very good artist, but I did art in school, and I’ve always kept loads of notebooks and I just love coming up with all that stuff.

And with the videos I was heavily involved with everything, like going in time and stuff, which drives the people crazy, because I’m stood there, breathing over their shoulders.

You’re described as DIY a lot, how would you define that?

I think we’ve been labeled DIY, but it’s purely just me trying to save money hahaha. I think a lot of the stuff I’m into has strong DIY roots. And as a teenager, I got really heavenly into people like The Cribs, then I was really into Pavement and got into some hardcore stuff like Fugazi and Nirvana as well, even when they were huge, they had this proper ‘do it yourself’ attitude. I’ve just always thought it was really cool and inspiring.

Loads of my favourite records were made in a bedroom, whether it was Caribou or Tame Impala. Not having to worry about wasting studio time and money just really appeals to me. And like if you’re trying to do a guitar take and someone’s like “You’re running out of time!” I’d probably just…. fluff it.

Have you recorded your new album in your bedroom?

The first record was made in Eddie Achikochi, he produced the stuff, and he’s a phenomenal producer, I owe a lot to him. But yeah, we recorded in his living room. And the second album we’ve started recording, and I’m just gonna carry on really. Unless something happens where it wasn’t working anymore, then maybe I’d try something else, but I like the way we work together, it just feels super relaxed. He’s so talented, and I just feel like I can go to his house and make it sound great.

With 1 2 Kung Fu! who were your biggest influences?

There were so many, William Onyeabor was a big one, The Beatles obviously, because they’re just everywhere, Beach Boys, Avalanches, Ty Seagull, Outkast, loads of stuff!

Would you say you have a weird influence? One that doesn’t really fit into the group?

I really like Câlisse. I don’t think anyone’s listened to Boy Azooga going “This sounds like Câlisse!” But I really like their music. Weirder than that though, there’s a Japanese guy called Tomita, who my dad used to play when I was growing up. He’s this composer who put all this classical music onto synths and electronic instruments in the seventies.

It’s really beautiful music. He did this Debussy album called 'Snowflakes Are Dancing,' because he was this amazing classical musician but he put all this stuff onto synthesizers. It sounds a bit weird but when you listen to it, it is amazing, and it’s also quite funny. Some of the sounds are quite daft and sound quite childish. He’s definitely a weird influence.

Is there a story behind Loner Boogie?

It wasn’t like one definite thing that happened, but I decided I wanted to make this made up dance or character for when you’re feeling anxious or scared, you could do the loner boogie as a way of getting out of it. When I was living on Claude Street in Cardiff, loads of mad things happened, and I remember getting really paranoid about nuclear war or something stupid.

But I think a lot of people of our generation did. I just wanted to write a rock song that wasn’t being ‘macho’ or whatever, more being actually kind of freaked out...

Being a Cardiff band, what do you think of the city’s music scene?

I think it’s amazing, it’s always been amazing. But there was a period a few years ago where I didn’t really feel involved in it. It was strange. I was mates with everyone, and we’d always see each other, or at least for me, the bands I was in didn’t feel as connected. But now it feels like there’s a massive connection between everyone. And hopefully, we’ll just keep on doing cool gigs and playing our music.

And I know that, actually I probably can’t say, but I know that some of those bands are planning on collaborating, but I won’t give too much away. It’s just such a friendly atmosphere. And it’s wicked to see, like yesterday, Sock, Buzzard and My Name Is Ian did a gig in Liverpool. It feels like Cardiff is kind of stretching out and spreading itself.

Finally, do you feel you’ve had an impact on it?

I don’t know, I’m really not sure. We’re just super proud to be from the Cardiff scene. I feel like that something's happened, where a bunch of similar bands, like Perfect Body, Buzzard, CVC, Private World, there’s like loads of people doing really good stuff and everyone’s really helping everyone out. So like I did a gig drumming for Rainbow Maniac, because their drummer, Gav, couldn’t do it, and he now drums for The Keys when I can’t do it. I drummed for Buzzard, Tom’s done stuff for us. Everyone chips in to help each other out. But that was happening way before Boy Azooga. So, I don’t think we’ve really impacted it, but I think we’ve become a big part of it.

Thanks for chatting with us, Davey, and good luck with the show!

Check out their live dates here, or click here to give their tunes a listen…

Out Now.
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