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Sons Of Zion - Sons Of Zion Interview 21/10/13

21 Oct 2013 // An interview by Asmith

NZ is well known for producing a lot of top quality reggae acts, what do you think separates you from the other NZ acts and makes you stand from all the others?

Sam: I think maybe just the originality of our sound. We mix a bit of other genres in there too, a bit of Rock, Metal, RnB and Reggae influences are definitely in there. I think being a much younger band we probably appeal to the younger audience as well!
Rio: I think that out of all the bands we play with, we’re always the youngest on the circuit in our genre. We’re the babies!

What should we expect from Universal Love that we haven't seen from you before?

Rio: Simple songs, more melodic. More songs based around the songwriting. I think the first album was based around the technical side of things and getting the musical knowledge out of our system. This time it’s a bit more stripped back.
Sam: It’s more raw, the songs are definitely an evolution of our sound.
Joel: It’s gone from trying to prove ourselves as musicians to just going back to the roots of songwriting. Writing simple songs, good songs. Songs that actually relate to the people a lot more.

Who is your current favourite NZ act/s?

Joel & Sam: Shapeshifter for sure!
Rio: Yes definitely Shapeshifter! Also the ones that have been on the circuit paving the way for bands like us such as Katchafire and Kora.

How did it feel to share the stage at Raggamuffin with the likes of Jimmy Cliff and Maxi Priest?

Sam: It was pretty awesome! It was such a surreal experience being on the same stage with artists of that calibre who have been around since we were young, listening to them. The vibe at the biggest reggae festival in New Zealand is just amazing. And this year we’re going to be sharing the stage with Damien Marley – I can’t wait!

Who is your favourite act that you have shared a stage with?

Joel: From memory, one of my favourite performances was opening for Kora down at Butlers Reef, Oakura, New Plymouth. We were a very young band back then and had just finished a whole bunch of songs and it was one of the very first times people had seen us. For me it was the moment that I realised this is what I really wanted to do.
Rio: For me, it was the first year that we started. We got to perform over New Years with Katchafire in Raglan. It was really cool - they made an effort to come down and watch our set. They actually came and watched and had some really good feedback for us. That’s when we thought we might actually be on to something.
Sam: Probably for me, it was one of our earlier, bigger shows at the AUSM orientation week. We played before The Black Seeds to a crowd of about 2000 people. I was so inspired after that to continue playing live shows.

How did you find the transition moving from your home towns to South Auckland for your careers?

Rio: It was a huge culture shock where I’m from in Rotorua, so moving up here there’s a lot of other different cultures I’ve been exposed to. But for me, that’s still where home is!

You have risen up quite quickly in the reggae scene, currently signed to Sony NZ, Touring with other top NZ acts, and now multiple album releases, do you feel pressure to perform?

Rio: Yes definitely. I think that’s a pressure that we put on ourselves too. We know that people are parting ways with $20 - $30 for an album. It’s a lot of money and we want to deliver on that, we want people to go home and think, that’s $20 well spent.

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you at a gig/on tour?

Joel: So many stories! One that definitely stands out is getting our van stuck on the beach when we were on tour with a Hawaiian Reggae band Kolohe Kai. We were heading north from Wellington and we stopped off at the beach and got our van stuck. We thought it was a good idea to take it out on the dunes for some down time! We only just got it off the beach to make in it time for another gig..!

What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians out there?

Rio: I think the faster you find out what your style is, what you want to do and where you fit the better. I think that’s the key to getting yourself out there.
Joel: I agree, but it’s also hard work. You really have to work hard for everything in this industry, nothing will ever be given to you. Meet the right people, get backed by the right people and you’ll do well.

If you could share the stage with any other musician, alive or dead, who would it be?

Joel: For our genre, I’d say Bob Marley.
Rio: Michael Jackson – he’s the epitomy of showman. Even when he’s walking down the street he’d be on his game. He’d be inspirational to just even be in the presence of, you’d learn so much spending just one day with him.
Sam: Justin Timberlake. His live shows are amazing, they’re so action packed, the whole set is so tight and everything is thought out. Everything about it is amazing.

Universal Love is here, what now for Sons Of Zion?

Sam: We’re already thinking about the next album. We’re in the studio making new music already. It’s just about writing more and playing round with some new styles.
Rio: Definitely touring this album and getting the most out of it. Like Sam said, we’re still recording and we’re not slowing down on the writing side of it because I think with this album we found we were a bit too relaxed to start with! But at the same time we’re going to be working Universal Love all summer and tour it as well.
Joel: We’re looking forward to what’s in store for the future ahead but also grinding away at what needs to be done right now which at the moment is touring. We realise that we can’t stay stale on what’s done now we need to keep looking forward.

If there was anything you could say to your fans, what would it be?

Sam: Thank you for your love and support over these years it’s been a long trip so far! We appreciate all the support you give us. Make sure you keep coming to our shows!
Rio: It helps us to keep doing what we do and that’s why we do it, for all you guys!


About Sons Of Zion

Sons of Zion have well and truly earned their place in the upper echelons of New Zealand music. From their humble Kiwi beginnings, to playing shows across the globe and dominating charts, Sons of Zion have amassed an impressive 48.5 million streams on Spotify, more than 15 million views on YouTube and 100,000-plus followers on social media.

For members Rio, Sam, Joel, Matt, Ross, and Caleb, it’s a track record that has established them as one the southern hemisphere’s most-loved and well-respected bands. In autumn 2018 the band made their mark with latest single Drift Away. Drift Away has been the #1 most played song on New Zealand radio for 3 weeks running, achieving the #1 NZTop20 NZ Single and almost 3 million streams and over 130,000 video views.

The track is featured on their brand new album Vantage Point, alongside a slew of their other hits including Now and Is That Enough (Ft. Aaradhna) – both #1 NZ & Urban Airplay Singles. Vantage Point hit #3 on the iTunes Album Chart, as well as entering the Billboard’s Reggae Chart at #9. Sons of Zion made their mark in 2009 with their self-titled debut album, following it up in 2013 with their full-length studio album Universal Love, which included the smash singles Be My Lady, Good Love and Tell Her - the latter two songs achieving #1 Urban and #1 NZ Airplay respectively. The hits continued to flow with Stuck on Stupid, Fill Me Up, I’m Ready and Hungover, winning over new and old fans alike.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sons Of Zion


Vantage Point
Year: 2018
Type: Album
The Jukebox Suite
Year: 2017
Type: EP
Universal Love
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Sons Of Zion
Year: 2009
Type: Album

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