Interview by Lewis Brideson
Eagerly anticipating their set at WOMAD this weekend, I got a chance to chat with band-leader Nicolaas Oogjes (star sign Scorpio) about the Melbourne-underground-punk-funk-no-wave-percussive-body-music extravaganza that is No Zu. We covered such topics as: their new album Afterlife, how great WOMAD is, Lynx Tempest, cheeky, cheeky cockatoos and of course their signature Heat Beat.
Lewis: You seem to be touching on a few darker themes in Afterlife but still keeping with the dance culture from Life?
Nic: Thanks for asking about that actually. It is something that usually gets missed by people. We often get labeled as a party band, which we are, but actually ever since No Zu started for me there has been a lot of just reflection on Australia and identity and what that means.
I thought it would be kind of funny to call it Afterlife, but without getting too deep. I mean you can still dance about it… a lot of it is presented in a tongue-in-cheek way so people can meditate on it themselves, you know?
Lewis: I guess it is the contrast between darker themes and it just being such fun dance music that makes it so intriguing.
Nic: Yeah, that is nothing forced, I never sat down to do that - it’s just from books you are reading… I don’t think dance music has to be superficial, you know what I mean?
Lewis: Yeah, definitely!
You guys all playing together at WOMAD is going to go down so well. Have you ever been just as a punter?
Nic: No, I have always heard about it and thought it would be great. Like I love so many of the acts that have played there and different music from around the world - from dub and afro beat to salsa - that’s where it all comes together, at WOMAD more so than most festivals. It’s going to be crazy.
Lewis: What can Adelaide expect from your set, are there any new things you are going to pull out?
Nic: We are all so excited about the record that we just want to create our own special Afterlife for everyone in the crowd and connect. We have got a pretty energetic live show with eight people that’s hopefully very inclusive for anyone watching… just let your body feel it and don’t think too much basically.
Lewis: Well they have dancing workshops at WOMAD as well, so maybe people could treat your set as a dance workshop?
Nic: That would be amazing actually! Yeah I totally recommend that.
Lewis: One of my favourite songs on Life is Perfume, so I was going to ask what is the scent of No Zu?
Nic: Oh wow, Daphne [star sign Virgo] was talking about making a No Zu scent at one point, a Heat Beat fragrance! I think it would be a combination of Lynx Tempest and something a bit classier like Brut, and maybe some Impulse body spray - just all combined like when you are in high school by the lockers and people use it to cover everything.
Lewis: Finally, if you could be reincarnated as anything what would it be?
Nic: I don’t know why I am thinking it, but maybe a Cockatoo? They are ancient birds and I read something recently about birds from Australia being really smart and displaying a lot of human-like attributes, like they can recognise faces. Okay so I am just choosing an animal that is just like a human in a lot of ways… but they are just so cheeky!