|Photo Courtesy of Zoogma's Facebook|
What the fuck is Zoogma?
You’ve seen the bright green stickers plastered around festivals (and people) from the Northeast to the Midwest to the Southeast. And in all likelihood, they’ve been at festivals of varying sizes, demographics and genres. Zoogma doesn't discriminate and they’re not afraid to play in front of 50 or 5,000 people.
Zoogma’s clever marketing campaign that keeps their band name on the tip of your tongue is more than just cheeky advertising – it’s an existential lesson in experiencing things firsthand.
Set to play Electric Forest 2012 alongside the likes of String Cheese Incident, STS9, Bassnectar, Thievery Corporation, Big Gigantic and many more in Rothbury, MI this June 28 to July 1, the band understands the mystique of Sherwood Forest and is looking forward to the weekend as much as countless festival attendees.
We caught up with drummer Matt Harris as they begun their preparation for a long festival season and chatted with him about playing Electric Forest 2012; combining their influences in hip-hop, rock, electronica and jazz; and their unique pseudo-covers.
Headstash Magazine: Can you talk a little about your sound and style. I think your music is really unique in the realm of livetronica, and it’s tough for me to put my finger on it. How did you develop it and how do you describe it?
Matt Harris: I guess when we first started, we were like any other band playing covers and stuff like that. Then, we started writing originals and began carving out our own direction. It probably took about a year and a half to really figure out what we were trying to go for.
|Photo Courtesy of Zoogma's Facebook|
We try to be different than other bands that play electronic music. We do more tight and concise compositions as opposed to relying on a lot of improvisation. I mean, we definitely improvise some, but we try to keep it really tight and to the point.
HM: One thing that sticks out to me about your music is how you’ll incorporate some hip-hop samples and play pseudo-covers, where you hear the semblance of the original but still make it very much your own.
MH: I guess that kind of developed from the idea of mash-ups. It starts out as the song itself without the sample and then we think it’d be really cool to mash it up and bring them together. Some songs are written right off the bat with the remix in mind. We’re from Memphis so groups like Three 6 Mafia have always been really big to us.
[BUY tickets and find more information on Electric Forest 2012 on the festival's official website.]
We were like, “Hey, we should do a throwback to Three 6 Mafia.” We started writing a song where we can incorporate some of the different lines and hooks and things like that and kind of make it our own with a some heavy rock and some fast, upbeat music.
Either we write a song and then work the hip-hop sample into it or we'll begin the song writing process with the samples in mind.
HM: You’ve mentioned Pink Floyd and Three 6 Mafia already as some influences, who else has helped mold your sound. It seems like you guys pull from all over the place.
MH: Yes, absolutely. It's funny because all four of us like a lot of the same music, but then we all have other genres that we all like individually. Brock is a huge Radiohead fan. He's always been really into a lot of guitar-heavy music.
|Electric Forest 2011 - Photo Credit: Jordan August|
I think that really plays through in the songwriting process. Everything you listen to and see influences you. I think the sound just comes from the combination of that – our four different banks of influences.
HM: Let’s talk about Electric Forest. It’s one of the biggest shows you’re playing this summer – how excited are you guys for the set?
MH: We're very excited to be a part of it. There are a lot of great artists that we respect on the lineup and a lot of friends. Ghostland Observatory, Wolfgang Gartner and obviously String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar and STS9. And then we've got all of our friends like Big Gigantic, Papadosio, Paper Diamond, EOTO, GriZ and Cherub out there, too. It's always fun to be able to hang out for a weekend with your friends and play music and get to see a lot of music that you love. That really makes for a great experience.
On top of that, Michigan is just beautiful in the summertime. I went to Rothbury 2009 right around the time we started touring a little more seriously. Me and some friends went up there and it was just perfect. We camped out and it was like a nice 60 degrees at night. You can actually sleep in during the day, too. It's not miserably hot like a lot of festivals you go to that are in a field. It's a really beautiful site.
HM: What should fans expect from your set in Sherwood Court from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m?
MH: We've got a lot of new material. We've been working on a new EP in the last couple of weeks and hopefully, we’ll have it at the ready by Electric Forest and maybe dish out some private CDs. You can always expect the same high energy in each set that we always try to deliver.
HM: You guys are also playing a ton of other festivals this summer from big ones like EF and Camp Bisco to really small ones where you guys are one of the headliners. How do different factors like size, location, set time, lineup placement, theme, etc. affect your playing?
MH: Sometimes that does factor in. It really depends. If we’re at more of an electronic geared festival, we'll probably play more tighter, party music kind of stuff. If we're at a festival that has more improvisational acts, we’ll improvise a bit more or take things a bit further.
A lot of times, we try not to worry about it and just go out there and play our show. We really just vibe off the crowd. If the crowd is into it and dancing, we can do whatever we want. Really, it's all about the energy and the vibe you get from the crowd. I feel like that’s really what drives us to to play what we play.
HM: You guys seem like you’re really unafraid to play anytime, anywhere – at a venue or festival that’s big or small. Is that something an up-and-coming band has to do to be successful?
MH: Absolutely. Playing festivals is a huge part of building your fan base and letting people know about your music. The first major festival we did was Wakarusa two years ago and we played at noon on a Friday and we thought, “Oh man, there’s not going to be anybody in there. They were all partying the night before and they’ll sleep in.”
[FIND complete lineups, ticketing information and analysis of all your favorite festivals via our 2012 Festival Guide.]
We ended up packing the tent. And then in the fall when we toured down there, people came up to us and remembered that set. Anytime you can get into a city or a region where everybody has seen your music definitely helps.
HM: I’ll get you out on this one. I’m sure a lot of people have seen your “What the fuck is Zoogma?” stickers all over the place, so how do you respond when someone asks you that?
MH: We just answer them back: what the fuck is it? I don't know. What it is?
HM: You let everyone make up their own mind about it?
MH: Exactly. We let them make up their mind for themselves. You can check it out and you have to figure it out yourself. I think that's the best way to find anything out. Never go along with what somebody tells you. Go and experience yourself and find out what it is.
HM: I really appreciate the time, and I'm looking forward to catching you guys again at Electric Forest
MH: Thanks a lot.
Catch Zoogma from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Sherwood Court at Electric Forest 2012, June 28 to July 1 in Rothbury, Michigan with String Cheese Incident, STS9, Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Thievery Corporation, Ghostland Observatory, and many more scheduled to appear.
For more information and ticketing prices, check out the festival's official website or our 2012 Festival Guide.
Who are you most excited to see at Electric Forest 2012 and why? Let us know in the comments below.