Since the release of their debut EP in 2014, Yumi Zouma’s evolution has been brisk and organic ‐ a shoreline reflecting the changing tides of its ocean. The band sold‐out their first EP twice‐over before its release and before having ever played live, but each member’s disparate living arrangements meant that live shows or even further releases were unexpected. Having grown up together in Christchurch, New Zealand, they scattered after school, moving to Auckland, Paris and New York, collaborating over email to create Yumi Zouma’s initial material. However, the intense reception to these early tracks resulted in the group’s first practices taking place on arena stages, as they were asked on tour by both Chet Faker and Lorde.
2015 saw the launch of their EP II, alongside multiple tours of Europe, North America, Australia and Asia, before a deluxe EP Collection 12” was released at the end of the year. These dizzying days on the road finally enabled the band to write together in the same place at the same time, and during a three‐week pause in Paris, they set to work on their debut album. Where the previous EPs were created in isolation, capturing the nuances of each member’s life half a world away, the new material was given a singular voice. After a week of mixing in Philippe Zdar’s Motorbass studio, the self‐recorded‐and‐produced Yoncalla was born.
Maria Usbeck’s solo debut, Amparo, is a collection of songs written and recorded across the span of three years in Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, the south of Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn.
Though the songs were composed electronically, Amparo called for an acoustic treatment, so Usbeck spent a winter in the studio recording the arrangements live with producer Caroline Polachek and mixer & engineer Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. Fleshed out in full sonic color on the marimba, xylophone, quena flute, piano, and harp, the album stretched into something hi-fi and expressive, meditative but not meandering.
Growing up in Quito, Usbeck was immersed in salsa, merengue, bachata, and Andean music, but was more attracted to German and American culture than to her own, and moved to America by herself at 17. After five years of fronting new wave outfit Selebrities and writing songs in English, Usbeck experienced a delayed-onset homesickness and knew it was time to “let the mother tongue speak”.