Camp Bisco Countdown: WTF IS A ZOOGMA!? (Interview)
DubEra was at Aura Music & Arts Festival from March 9-11 covering the festival while enjoying the diversity of the line up, people and outlets of media. Held on a ranch in St. Cloud, Florida, Aura is the perfect spot for a smaller fest and remains spacey and uncrowded to give artists, hoola-hoopers, fire-spinners and concert goers the most comfortable experience possible. After the festival we caught up with headliners Zoogma and discussed their energetic Saturday set, live performances, influences and more. Check out the DubEra exclusive interview below!
DubEra: First off introduce yourself to the readers. What is your name and what is your role in Zoogma?
Ryan: My name is Ryan Nall. I compose and produce music for Zoogma with Brock Bowling, Matt Harris, and Justin Hasting. Onstage I play bass guitar and synth.
D: You guys started off your Aura set with the “Gotta Stay Fly” bit and the entire crowd went in to a frenzy. The song demands that sort of response, but you guys also pump up the crowd. Describe the energy that goes from the crowd to you guys and back out to the crowd.
R: We certainly felt that energy at Aura too when we dropped “M10”, and I think that kind of connection to the audience is integral to a Zoogma show. Our show is designed to get people moving, when we see that happening in the crowd, everyone raging together and enjoying themselves, it has a profound effect on us on stage. I feel we’re a band that really reciprocates when the crowd is enthusiastic, so we do our best to help them get them excited.
D: The set is a lot like a DJs set in that there isn’t much stopping and you guys are using electronic sounds to move the crowd. Describe the non-human element in your music, both recorded and how that transcends to the live show.
R:Some things we compose are meant to be played live by instruments on stage, some things are produced prior to the show and are meant to be sequenced or sampled on stage (much like a DJ). This duality is present in nearly every Zoogma composition: the blending of live instruments on stage and the sequencing of produced pre-recorded music. Also, while each member onstage incorporates a laptop we each use our computers differently. Some of us trigger sounds and samples (like a DJ), while others use the computer as a digital mixer for a variety of synthesizers (like a keyboard). We founded this project with the intent of pushing the boundaries of what a group of musicians could do by combining live instrumentation and live sequencing, and the technology that we incorporate is meant to accentuate the music being played live on stage – not limit it.
D: What software do you guys use? Have you always used the same software or is that something that has changed with the band?
R: We all use either Ableton, Reason, or Logic to produce music in the studio. We also use a variety of VST (Virtual Studio Technology) programs to create sounds such as Massive, Gladiator, FM8, and Albino.
D: What music is currently influencing the band?
R: We’re all over the place! On a recent drive we listened to everything from Pink Floyd, KOAN Sound, Soulive, Three 6 Mafia, Bonobo, Incubus, OutKast, Peter Gabriel, Ott, Warren G, Flux Pavilion to Eric Church. Nothing’s off limits with us, and we try and find inspiration from a wide range of sources. We’re currently working on a couple of compositions that feature samples of Janelle Monae and Ellie Goulding that we’ll be debuting soon, so we’ve been listening to a lot of their music as well.
D: Zoogma definitely has a heavier element to it than a lot of your cohorts. Where does the heaviness stem from?
R: I think that in some ways it’s on purpose; we try and compose and perform music that has a lot of power and energy behind it. But in other ways it’s on accident; I think we’re all a product of what we listen too and we all love to listen to very hard-hitting emotionally charged music. I think that leads us to produce music that covers a wide spectrum of emotions as well. It can be epic and triumphant or it can be dark and foreboding. It can be very chill and introspective or it can be very groove centered and euphoric. It’s all dance music though, it’s all designed to illicit a physical response from the audience.
D: The live set completely breaks the mold of most artists one-genre performance. From hip hop to electronica to trippy rock and everything in between. Tell us why it’s important to keep it fresh and never get pigeonholed.
R: We always try and push ourselves and I think that finding inspiration from a variety of sources keeps us “in shape” musically. We believe our music is best categorized as electronica, but we constantly try and access a variety of genres, like Hip-Hop, Prog Rock, or Dub. We are constantly evolving too, implementing new production techniques and technologies on a consistent basis, so in many ways it’s hard for us to remain static. Experimentation and improvisation have a large role in how we’ve developed as a group and I think that we always try and take chances on stage which leads to really exciting shows as well.
D: Which festival do you guys enjoy playing the most?
R: Tough to say… we love returning to old favorites like Wakarusa and Bear Creek, those were the spots that we came up in and we have a lot of family that makes our time at Mulberry Mtn and Suwannee very special whenever we play there. We love experiencing events for the first time too: Camp Bisco, Lights All Night, and Camp Barefoot were all mind-blowing last year. I know that this year we’re really excited because we get to perform at a lot of events for the first time like Electric Forest, SummerCamp, and The Hangout.
D: What is the most memorable Zoogma set? If it’s too hard to pick just one you can do a few.
R: Lots of great memories! Wakarusa last year was surreal, probably one of the most epic sets we’ve ever delivered. Playing the Belly Up in Aspen was amazing because of how many huge acts have played there. But I think that my favorite was at the Georgia Theatre in February of this year, that was probably some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
D: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
R: Snarky Puppy in the Music Cafe, Bear Creek 2011 is what immediately came to mind. Phish Greensboro 2003 and STS9 NYE at the Tabernacle 2006 were huge for me as a musician.
D: What are your top 3 favorite records of all time?
R: Don’t know if they’re my favorites of all time, but they sure have a lot of plays on my iTunes.
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Thievery Corporation – The Mirror Conspiracy
Lettuce – Rage!
D: WTF IS A ZOOGMA?
R: If you’re asking you already know. If you don’t know, come to a show, we’ll help walk you through it 🙂
You can check out Zoogma’s tour dates and download their newest record “Recreational Vehicles” for FREE by heading over to their Facebook page!
You can check out more DubEra exclusive pictures of Aura Music & Arts Festival and more by heading over to our Facebook page!
Stay tuned for the Papadosio interview coming out in a couple days!!