Bristol cranks out another life-giving musical act in the form of AZ&TOR’s stylish, soulful house and their new video Sit Back.
Jamaican-born Aisha Zoe and Detroit-raised Rich Main might seem like an unlikely pairing on paper, but the duo who work under the alias of AZ&TOR fit together pefectly. Main’s old-school deep house beats in ‘Sit Back’ couldn’t be more of the moment, and when paired with Zoe, who’s all hoop earrings, soulful voice and can’t-touch-this glare in the video… Hell, it’s pretty special. Don’t you love when two things go together so well?
Already favoured by Wretch 32 and Toddla T as well as being hotly tipped since joining MistaJam on his 1Xtra show, they’re playing a whole host of festivals this year. Watch their new video here.
How were you first introduced to one another?
Zoe: Intergalactic forces brought us together, life brought us to Bristol and we hooked up on a music production course. I was first drawn to his moustache and thought he must be cool! Turns out he isn’t.
Were you both in other projects before the collaboration?
Z: I was in a hip-hop band in my town which consisted of me and my sis Lady Soul singing together, she taught me a lot about the roots of soul and hip-hop. Then I was in a jungle band called SpaceKuggies. There’s not much of their stuff online cause they don’t roll with internet, only MPC’s, mixtapes and dope.
R: I was making music on a more casual level for about 10 years prior to meeting Zoe; I used to play saxophone and piano at school and in my teens that turned to decks and DJing. I was running nights in Bristol while teaching myself how to write beats on an early version of Reason.
Those are two pretty different musical backgrounds. How did you combine your individual influences to create the overall sound of the duo?
R: I think having the ability and the freedom to work on our music solo as well as together. Like we can spend the week working separately, and Zoe can just send a load of vocals over and I will mix it up, change the BPM, switch up the key and then the end result is unexpected which is what I like. Our Track ‘Won’t You’ is a prime example of that.
Who have been your main inspirations/influences as you were growing up?
Z: My Mamacita. She is a very positive energy to have and always sees the good in things. Erykah Badu, Bahamadia and Zed Bias musically.
R: My influences would have to be all the music I used to listen to when I grew up which is mainly down to my mum, so we’re talking a lot of 80s and disco stuff, Donna Summer and Lionel Richie. Inspiration-wise I look closer to home; I have an ambitious dad and grandad, so they keep me on my toes!
Why do you think Bristol is such a hub for emerging creativity?
Z: You’re free from the conformities that a big city can often hold, allowing inhabitants to be very open minded. If only everywhere were as colourful, I reckon people would be a lot more creative! The more people that succeed there the more belief you have for yourself and others around you. I have massive respect for Bristol! Big place in my heart.
Tell us more about the new EP, Sit Back?
Z: It’s a story of love, and all the words are very close to my heart. I feel like its exposing our developments as artists combined, and allowing people to see us in a varied light. Sit Back’s coming out on the amazing MadTech Records. All the artists on the label show great support for one another, I feel like they’re my family now.
R: I think the Sit Back EP portrays what we are all about right now in terms of production and meaning. And the remixes by No Artificial Colours and Polkadot are banging!
Where can we catch you live this summer?
R: We’ll be blessing Secret Garden Party, Ibiza Rocks with Ms Dynamite herself, Outlook, Gottwood and Farr Festival, aand of course loads of gigs in London!
Words: Shane Hawkins