Interview with Yuzima Philip

YUZIMA , NYC’s “Prince of Noize” has just released his excellent new single “Would It Be Ok” from his insta-album “Living Off The Land”. Combining prescient, focused, politically-charged lyrics with an innate gift for melody and experimentation he’s making something beautiful, something unique. It says here that “Yuzima’s music can easily be described as if Nirvana collaborated with Prince and Metz in a cave of Ty Segall lo-fi genius” but maybe that’s too easy because it’s much more than all that, it’s Yuzima’s thing, listen and you’ll understand. He kindly did an interview with us a few weeks back and I’m proud that it’s the first piece we’ve  published under out new moniker. Life is swit.

Your bio talks about you “unlikely childhood in Gun Hill Projects in the Bronx” – can you elaborate?

I’m from Gun Hill Projects in the Bronx. I think people in the press find it unusual that a noise pop artist might come from there. I grew up with drugs around me, shoot outs and gangs at least until I moved to Vermont as a teenager. All of that made me who I am.

What does Insta-Album mean to you?

It’s a way to perceive the moment through an album –  Three songs and a theme. It’s a way to give deep meaning to a shortened modern attention span. Pop music has always done that, although I think it’s done less now than Madonna, Nirvana and Prince did in the 80’s and the 90’s. You can listen to my new insta-album “Living Off The Land” and touch this moment and understand and really live this moment.

What is your favourite song/piece of music that you’ve written and why?

At this moment it’s “Living Off The Land”. I like when a song is more than a song, it’s an event  where you see the elements and characters almost like a play or a musical (just with noisy guitars).

You’re obviously highly politicised – what so you think led to the rise of Trump?

Frankly politics isn’t for everybody – it takes compromise,  thoughtfulness, bravery; that doesn’t necessarily play to the gallery. A lot of people don’t care. Trump drags people in who don’t do research, don’t do follow-up; and activates their base instincts of xenophobia and racism, claiming that he’ll just fix everything by pushing everyone you don’t like around. He’s a fraud.

Are you worried about the future of the US?

Not if we elect the right person.

What was the first song you loved or your earliest musical memory?

The Jackson Five, my mom had a turntable when I was a kid and she had 45’s that I would play.

There seems to be a lack of “protest singers” and a lot of apathy about the political system and the ability to influence that via democratic means these days as compared to the sixties etc. Firstly, do you agree and, if you do, why do you think that is? 

It’s different, I do it but I’m not a “protest singer”, Bob Dylan said he wasn’t a protest singer in the sixties. I’ve written about voodoo, domestic violence, places like Venice Beach, relationships; I go on inspiration and that can lead anywhere. I just have to write about the world as it is, and should be, in a creative and aware way. And every once in a while I write a love song.


What artists have been your biggest influence and in what way?

Joan Armatrading, Prince and a bunch of artists that I’ve encountered coming up. There are so many artists that as an artist I come across. Almost every street musician in New Orleans is better than many world acclaimed musicians. I learned so much just from visiting NOLA.

What, outside of music, influences your art?

Art. I spend a lot of time reading novels and checking out art in museums.

What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?

Joan Armatrading  – Down to Zero.

If you could go back in time where would you go and why?

I’m a realist so I’d much rather be where I’m at and make the most of that.

Name a song that makes you happy and why does it have that effect?

New Orleans Brass Band stuff is the apex of music and it’s spiritual, you turn into a happy zombie dancing down the street in a second line.

What is the best new band that you’ve heard recently?

I love Miguel’s record, King, Swans, they aren’t new but it’s what I’m checking out now.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Way too morbid, I could never answer that.

What question would you like to be asked that you never are? (and what would be your answer?)

Download “Living Off The Land”.

What’s next for Yuzima?

The Universe.

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