Interview: NO ZU

NO ZU is an electronic project like no other electronic project. Formed by Nicoolas Oogjes in 2007, and spurred by the “Heat-Beat”, NO ZU is completely indefinable, a broad mixture of horns, beats and exotic vibrancy.

NO ZU are teaming up with Sal of the legendary 80’s group Liquid Liquid, and playing a very special show at Goodgod Small Club, this Friday, January 30th. I caught up with Nick and Sal ahead of the show to chat about influences, staying independent, and the “Heat-Beat”.

R: You have an electronic version of the project – why do you have multiple versions of the same music? 

N: Well, the boring answer is logistics. One of us might go on a holiday, and we can only do it with a couple people. The other answer is that I don’t see it as any completely set membership – it’s always comfortably evolving and mutating. Keeping it that way, changing all the time, and moving back to a big band, which we’re about to do in Sydney, that keeps it a great and exciting project.

R: There can be a lot of members in NO ZU. What’s the largest amount of members that you’ve had?

N: Well, this one with Sal involves nine members, and we’ve gone up to 11 before. So, we try to set a record each time.

R: In terms of bringing more members on, or less, which one do you prefer?

N: I don’t know, they’re like my children. (laughs) You’re ruining the band, you’re making me choose between them!

Not to sound really hippie sounding, but I do see NO ZU as a lifestyle, and that’s why I have that joke “Heat-Beat is lifestyle” –it’s tongue in cheek, but it’s really how everybody feels. There’s no set membership, or which version is better – it was the same when I started the project by myself in 2007. It’s exactly the same band, even when there’s 11 people.

R: You use “Heat-Beat” a lot – what does that mean?

S: [NO ZU] gets the heat going. There’s a lot of creative friction, which makes a fire, which creates heat.

R: One of the most impressive elements is the eclecticism of NO ZU’s sounds – where do you find the sources for these sounds?

N: I try not to intellectualize it at all. I never listen to a song and think, oh, we need to get that drop beat in there, or, let’s get a bass line like that. It’s more about mood, and how music and different art forms have resonated with me and the other guys.

S: Influences are best digested when they’re fully presented. In that, we can’t really tell where they’re coming from. When you can’t really tell where they’re coming from, that’s because you’ve totally digested it, as opposed to just appropriating it. You’re totally inserted in the music.

R: Melbourne is very much considered a home for producers, but NO ZU doesn’t really fit in this scene, and it’s hard to pigeonhole you as anything. Is that how you prefer it?

N: Of course. It’s never about joining a club, or look over and think that you’re part of some movement. I don’t see any excitement in being involved in that.

We were excited to be part of Cut Copy’s [Ocean’s Apart] Melbourne Music compilation. But the thing that’s brought us together on that is that everyone’s an outsider. We share a similar ethos – open-mindedness from different periods of time, groovy music from weird places, obscure music and popular music mixed together in an unpretentious way.

R: How would you describe you’re collaborators for the Sydney show, Liquid Liquid?

N: One thing that strikes me is the really good balance we have in the set now. NO ZU is well known for being maybe overly-bombastic, and crazy.

S: Let’s say excitable!

N: Yeah! We’ve learnt to pull back, and it’s definitely a more considered groove, and it’s a nice dynamic to have in this set we’re working on. For want of a better word, it offers an eclectic experience.

S: It shows a certain continuity…in different feelings, in different forms of groove music. Music that more addressed that body than the mind.

 

Catch NO ZU and Sal P playing this Friday 30th of Jan at GoodGod Small Club. Tix here.

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