SXSW With: Boy Azooga

Boy Azooga

Words and Photos: Elena Katrina

Admittedly, I’d only heard a handful of Boy Azooga tracks prior to SXSW but enough to know that he was a key part of my coverage for 2019, and he was certainly jostling for my attention amongst a seriously strong UK thing of acts travelling over this year. As soon as I spotted he was playing at Lazarus Coffee for US based music promoters, Music For Listeners, I knew that would be the place I’d see him. A buzzing local hang, free to all and, as time would show, a set that delighted not only me but brought a smile to every face I could see. With his upbeat personality and friendly demeanour I just had to jump on in for an interview and despite being in high demand, he agreed in an instant.

So for those readers for whom Boy Azooga is a new artist, tell us why you got into music and how you got together the band you’re working with?

Boy Azooga: I got into music through my family. My parents are musicians, so it was always around the house when we were kids. The Beatles, Queen, The Beach Boys, all that stuff was what I grew up with. I’ve only ever really done music. I wasn’t that good at other subjects, but I loved music. I played the drums when I was at school and wrote songs on the side. I still play drums in some bands now, but I wanted to play these songs I’d written so I got together my favourite musicians from Cardiff and luckily they were up for it. It’s been so much fun. I always hoped we would be able to do stuff like this, but you dream and don’t believe that you’ll be good enough to come over and be playing music for people at a barbecue. It’s fucking great.

Has there been a point where you’ve thought “this is it, this is where I want to go”?

Boy Azooga: To be honest, this week has really felt like that. And last year we got to play Green Man Festival in Breckon in the summer and we had really good gig, our friends played brass for us, and we covered Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang. It was such a lovely crowd. It was the moment that made up for all the stresses and breakdowns on the motorway.

Is this your first time at SXSW?

Boy Azooga: As Boy Azooga it is, but I used to play drums for Charlotte Church’s band and we came out here in 2012/3 for a little tour. We only did three shows as it was part of a bigger tour, whereas as we’ve come out here as Boy Azooga specifically for this we are fitting in more shows than that. It’s like a tour condensed into one week. It’s been amazing. We saw The Oh Sees in Hotel Vegas the other night and it was one of the best gigs of my life. There was a crowdsurfing panda. John Dwyer said “this next song is a fifteen minute odyssey and we want you to keep the panda in the air all that time”… And they did. I was in the pit watching this real committed effort to keep the panda up. I can only imagine how hot she felt in that. We did a video where I was dressed in a polar bear outfit and that was boiling. And I had breaks in that.

Are there any bands you’ve want to see today (interview was on the last day) or any bands you have regretted missing?

Boy Azooga: There’s a massive regret that we were asked to play at White Denim’s party that they are having. I messaged Steve Terebecki on Facebook about seven or eight years ago being a massive fanboy and he replied and we’ve stayed in touch, and I’ve sent him new music. He messaged me the other day to ask if I wanted to come and play with them at their studio. Which was amazing. But Psychedelic Porn Crumpets were on so I was like “we have to go, we’ve got another gig after that”, so we had to leave and miss White Denim.

What plans do you have post-SXSW for the rest of the year?

Boy Azooga: I have got to get back to finishing the next album really. We have been recording it for the best part of a year since we released the last one last year. We’ve just got to keep moving so that we can carry on doing stuff like this. I am doing some gigs with other bands too. Sam, our bassist, has another project called Shoebox Orchestra and he’s just finished some things for that, so I’m going to play drums for him and keep as busy as possible. We’ve got a bunch of gigs to play over summer, and we are going out to Iceland for Iceland Airwaves which is exciting. It feels really good at the moment.

 

Check out Boy Azooga (and the polar bear costume) here

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