Interview: A Conversation with Boy Azooga

New Heavenly signing Boy Azooga have been kicking up quite the fuss with superb singles ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ and ‘Loner Boogie’. Clearly gluttons for groove, the tracks see the Cardiff 4-piece spit out riffs like they’re going out of fashion and heartily turn up the fuzz.

With debut album 1, 2, Kung Fu! due for release in June, we caught up with frontman and songwriter Davey Newington to talk album details, the Cardiff scene and an intriguing mention of maracas.

Hey, how are you? Been up to much lately?

Hey, alright thanks, hope you’re good! Been writing lots for the next album and we just released our second single, ‘Loner Boogie’. I’ve just started DJing as well, I don’t know what I’m doing and would never classify myself as a DJ, but I’m having fun!

You seem to have sprung up from only a few live shows as a band – how did that come about? 

Yeah, the band has only existed for little over a year now but I had been working on the album for a bit with the amazing Eddie Al-Shakarchi. When I finished recording it I realised I wanted to play it live, so I arranged a jam with Daf, Sam and Dylan. They all play in bands I love. Daf plays in Afro Cluster and Men On The Chessboard, Sam in Shoebox Orchestra and Dylan has a project called Homes/D D Darillo. I hadn’t known Sam for long when we started jamming but it instantly clicked and we just rehearsed a lot. We did out first gig, had a blast and decided to do more.

How did Heavenly get involved?

Heavenly was my dream label to work with. When we were close to finishing the record I said to Ed I was gonna put it all on SoundCloud, but he strongly advised against me doing that and said that I should approach labels. I said Heavenly would be the ultimate, but didn’t think it would happen. I’m so glad I listened to him now! They’ve been so supportive and given me great advice without putting too much pressure on me, creatively, to change anything. I feel very lucky to be working with them and able to release music.

Did playing in other bands have an impact on your writing? 

Definitely, yeah. Jack Butler from Houdini Dax/Monico Blonde and I grew up writing songs together and he taught me so much about songwriting and the importance of a good song. If a song didn’t work on an acoustic guitar then we wouldn’t tend to run with it. Owen Richards from the same bands is a great songwriter too. Same with Matthew Evans from The Keys who I also look up to a lot. He’s written some of my favourite ever songs! Having drummed in other bands, I definitely consider the drums to be very important in my music, too. Once the song is written I like to focus on getting the drums and rhythmic elements in shape.

Is there much of a scene in Cardiff at the moment? Could you recommend any bands from the area? 

Yeah, right now Cardiff is really healthy! There’s so much good stuff going on I don’t know where to start. Apologies to anyone that I miss out – but you should check out: Darkhouse Family, Monico Blonde, Buzzard, Sock, Afro Cluster, Private World, Perfect Body, Adwaith, EstronsRainbow Maniac, The Kicks, Flowers For FreaksCVC, Late Night Picture, Earl Jeffers, Esther Taylor, Jessi Valli, Joel Avaient, Ivan Moult, Himalayas, Oh Peas, Milk, We’re No Heroes, Jaxson Payne, Bitw, 4postle, The TatesOmaloma and more! [Blimey – Cardiff does look healthy.]

The first two singles from 1, 2, Kung Fu! have been quite varied. Which would you say is most reflective of the album? 

The whole album is basically a celebration of all my favourite music, so it’s all pretty varied. I guess between these two, ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ is the most representative. It’s got a riff and a little fuzz but also melody and groove.

What are your favourite songs from the album? Could you tell us a bit more about them? 

I think ‘Breakfast Epiphany’, ‘Taxi To Your Head’ and ‘Jerry’ are my favourites. They are some of the oldest songs I’ve written. ‘Breakfast Epiphany’ reminds me a lot of Claude Road where I used to live. Most of my friends have moved away now but we used to live really close to each other and hang out a lot. ‘Taxi To Your Head’ is about heading into town and the sort of things you get up to when you should probably be asleep. ‘Jerry’ is a song for a dog who I loved and used to walk at Thompson’s Park in Cardiff.

Are there any particular themes running through the album? 

It’s a bit dark, but a lot of the album is about death. I’m a massive over-thinker and that seems to find its way into the lyrics a lot. That’s why I gave the songs daft names like ‘Breakfast Epiphany’, so it doesn’t seem too serious or heavy!  I have tried to fill the record with nods to all my favourite bands, films, books and artists. The song ‘Hangover Square’ is about a book my Dad gave me when I moved out. There’s a love song in there too – ‘Waitin” is a song for my girlfriend.

If everyone knew just one thing about Boy Azooga, what would you want it to be?