We catch up with London-based trio, ZIBRA to talk new music, new line-ups and Alice Deejay.
The ZIBRA boys are back! Fresh from honing their craft on tour with Years & Years and Coasts, the newly composed trio have been spending time holed up in the studio and penning tracks from the brand new EP ‘EP2000’.
Sam (vocals), Russ (synths) and Ben (bass), return with a triumphant new sound and an infectious new lead-track ‘Great White Shark’, ahead of finishing up their debut album, which is expected early next year.
Give us an insight into your journey? Weren’t there 4 of you guys before?
It’s been a great year, writing and playing shows. There were 4 of us, but sadly due to a couple of differences there is now 3 but we’re all still friends though! When it started out I (Sam) was just writing songs and trying to find people who wanted to do the same kind of stuff, it wasn’t that easy because not everyone was initially digging the certain balance of guitars and synth and stuff. But before we played live it was all about writing and jamming ideas but then the shock came of trying to do what we recorded live! That was a whole can of worms we didn’t want to open. I look back and kinda wish we just mimed and did some dances like B*witched.
How did you all form? Were there any previous projects before ZIBRA, and where did the name originate from?
We’ve all been in and out of bands in the past but Zibra started about 18 months ago when I uploaded a couple of tracks on the internet which people were really enjoying. I then met Russ (synths) through people hearing the first couple of songs and started working together from then, and it escalated quite naturally from there! The name just sounds funny, well not funny in a funny way just odd. We’re English, and Americans say ZEEBRA, but I guess to get that across we spelt it like we did.
We’re loving ‘Great White Shark’. How does the creative process begin with you guys? How does a track go from being an idea to a finished piece of music that you’re all happy to put out to your fans?
They all happen differently, some ideas come out on the tube and you have to run home before you forget and some just start from a little mess around. ‘Great White Shark’ started with Russ showing us a project session that was just a drum beat and his finger pushed down on the E button, it was pretty funny, but it started there, I got out the guitar and frazzled it up and pitched it down, fired up the synthesizers and we had a track!
Can you tell us more about the EP2000? How does it differ and follow-on from your previous EP?
The new ‘EP2000’ was a bit more of a serious downtempo kind of vibe, so tracks like ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Vibrance’ fitted nicely, and the high cut-up vocals are taking more of a centre stage. We’re working on the album at the moment.
You’ve been touring with Years & Years and Coasts – what have you learnt from playing alongside those guys?
We learnt a lot. It was one of the first kind of tours we’ve had and we have a lot of equipment, and they have a lot of equipment and theres a lot of setting down and setting up so we definitely learnt how to be quick and punctual. Ollie’s voice is great which one day, I hope to achieve.
What’s been your best and worst gig, to date?
We’ve had a pretty sound experience playing live as Zibra. There have been a couple of technical hitches but thankfully we’ve sorted all of it out in time. It’s really difficult to pick out one best gig because to us, they have all been great!
Whose idea is it to do all of the recent cover sessions we’ve heard you upload soundcloud? There are some nostalgic early 00’s dance stuff in there including Alice Deejay!
I always find myself singing songs in my head or riding around on my bike or something, and think “I need to cover that!” It started with Tomcrafts banger ‘Loneliness’, and people liked it so I figured why not just keep going? You can hear the Alice Deejay cover here.
If you could have been part of any other band, who would you join?
Definitely the lady in Yellow Magic Orchestra.
If you could have written any other song, which track would you like to claim as your own?
‘Don’t You Want me Baby’ by The Human League. I always listen to that song and think the karaoke version is the best, listening to all the intricacies in the backing track, but mainly just the amazing songmanship. I’m forever pulling it apart, working out the process that got it to a finished song, especially when the band didn’t like the song and the label talked them into releasing it. It’s baffling because it sounds like the most time consuming song on that album, so it’s surprising they would work so flat-out on something they didn’t like.
You all seem pretty style-savvy. How would you describe the signature ZIBRA look?
We’re not really sure, we practically live in our clothes. People point out my safety pin in my ear all the time, which hasn’t been out for 5 years.
Who or what inspires you to write and who inspires the way in which you dress / image-wise? Who is ZIBRA’s style icon!
There’s a lot of inspiration for writing and it comes from a lot of places. Both Russ and I listen to different things. I personally think there’s some inspiration from Elvis Costello, The Damned, The Human League, Blur, The Prodigy and even Eiffel 65. Style-wise I’d say we like to be smart with a musty aura. I always tend to paint and sew things on clothes, so we customise a lot of things.
Festival season is fast approaching – where can we catch you guys live this summer?
We have Live at Leeds coming up and The Great Escape in Brighton! There’s a few really exciting things happening over the next few months that we’re not able to talk about yet!
Do you have any top festival tips?
Wear Dr Martens all of the time, even in your sleeping bag and don’t take them off. They are waterproof, keep the smelly sock smell in and the water out and they don’t look half as bad as your standard welly when they’re caked in mud.
‘EP2000’ is out now!
Connect with ZIBRA here.