Yo Zushi : Q&A

Yo Zushi is a modern day troubadour armed with his six-string and a heart full of great songs. Proper Songs caught up with him to find out about his new album and musical milkmen.

PS: Tell everyone a bit about yourself.
I'm a good cook. I do a mean sea bass. I usually poach it, though, so spell my name right: Yo Zushi with a Z. My parents gave me that name. I don't have anything to do with raw fish or conveyor belts, unless I'm eating sushi while trying to catch a plane. I write songs and sing them. I've released two albums on Pointy Records, and another is on its way from Best Kept Secret. I'm a Virgo, and my favourite colour is green.

PS: You've recently released an album on tape cassette. Proper Songs is a big fan of tapes, what attracted you to the idea?
I still have a few Walkmans lying around - a Sony WM4 from 1982, a couple of Aiwas and so on. Domestic tapes are pretty much obsolete in the world of home recording, but the format isn't dead to me. I spend a lot of time on my Tascam 424 when I want that Big Pink sound, and I'm also a fan of mix-tapes. Burning a CD for someone takes about ten minutes, but making a real compilation on cassette is a serious investment of time and energy. I think that's why they're genuinely treasurable objects. As for my Jangadeiros album on the Best Kept Secret label, I wanted to do what people like Will Oldham and Simon Joyner were doing in the '90s and put out cassettes on demand. The format makes you think differently: having two sides means having two beginnings and two endings, and the technological connotations of working with a less permanent medium can't help but loosen you up. It's had the predictable effect of sending me back to the lo-fi sound I grew up with. Viva Last Blues, and all that.

PS: How did your forthcoming musical, Milkwatch come about?
Milkwatch is a "hip" short film about singing milkmen solving crime. We're trying to be "in" with "da" kids. Mike Taylor, who co-wrote and directed it, read a story in the news about how the police were deputising milkmen in some northern towns. It's urban realism. Imagine La Haine, but with the London Gay Man's Chorus as an army of milk distribution technicians. You know that video Justice did, with those kids getting in fights and setting cars on fire? You know that scene at the end of Casino where Joe Pesci gets buried alive? Milk Watch is nothing like either of these things. It's a family film. We received a certain amount of funding from the New Pathways people, and it'll premiere at the opening gala of the East London Film Festival.

PS: How's the new album coming along?
I'm basically working on several at a time. My main project (Video Days) is the most elaborate - lots of weird John Lennon/Brian Wilson chords and harmonies. I can't seem to finish it, though, for a variety of factors... Oh well. It'll get done eventually. On the other hand, I'm putting together another dark folk album, which is comparatively very sparse and minimal. I like this one a lot, but I suspect that nobody will want to release it.

PS: What are your tips for maintaining smart attire in an economic depression?
Mark E Smith once said that being short of money doesn't excuse you from dressing badly. I agree with him to a certain extent: smart attire can be more a matter of good taste than anything else. Unless you're totally broke.

PS: Give us a Top 5 of something.
Top Five Great Places in London That Have Closed Down or Become Crap in The Last Decade

1. Troy Club, Hanway Street. Once one of the best late-night boozers in Soho, frequented by affable drunks and eccentrics. Now boring and decorated with a surf board. I still miss it.
2. The Everyman Cinema, Hampstead. They had bits of pink paper for tickets and ran amazing retrospectives; they were affordable and committed to film... Now it's a 'boutique' cinema showing blockbusters for 12 bob a go. Recently, the chairman said: 'Never let a film lover run a cinema'.
3. Shipleys, Charing Cross Road. Another great bookshop bites the dust.
4. Cafe New Piccadilly. To be honest, the food wasn't very good. But they had great coffee and apple pies, and the decor was unchanged since the '50s! At least the Lorelei and Bruno's are still flying the old-school flag.
5. The Dive Bar, China Town. It was like going down into the bottom of a galleon. It might be an O'Neils now. Depressing.

Download 'Poor Lazarus' from the 'Jangadeiros' cassette album, which is launched at Cafe Oto in Dalston Junction with Joanne Robertson in support.

Upcoming gigs:
3 Feb @ Cafe 1001, London
19 Feb @ The Old Queen’s Head, London
27 Mar @ The Buffalo Bar, London