” Not since The White Stripes has a band lit us up quite like The Zilis. With a sound that is distinctly nostalgic and rocking full of fun, these guys are proof that good things do come north of the border. ” – Fresh Independence
Name: Zander Lamothe, Justin Bozzo and Sean Royle
Age: Zander is 24. Justin and Sean are 26.
Where are you writing this: Sean’s home.
How did The Zilis come to be?
We started playing together when we were in high school. We had a front man at first but we really started playing as a three-piece when we formed a cover band called the Led Hot Zili Peppers. We played three one-hour long sets a night to pay off the debts of our old band. When our front man left, we began writing originals as a trio and found that things were really clicking. Eventually, we decided to shorten the name to The Zilis for our original stuff.
While filming on location at The Calgary Folk Music Festival this past July, I noticed a familiar face in the hotel hallway. Beach waves, flip flops, and a laid back smile. What a pleasant surprise!
Where are you writing this?
On an old lounge in the sun
Home is where your story begins, would you tell us a bit about yours?
Byron is one of the friendliest places I know. It’s such a great place to be.
How did music find you?
I was surrounded by it from an early age, it was only a matter of time. Everyone in my family play some instrument.
What was it about the drums?
My uncle was an amazing drummer. I think I knew how to play a beat before even sitting on a kit. I actually had a kit for 6 years before sitting down and really playing it, then didn’t put the sticks down.
As a drummer where does your inspiration/ new beats come from?
So many influences, but you can’t go past older stuff like Al Jackson Jnr’s playing on all the Stax recordings. You will hear just about every beat that your hear on the radio these days in that old stuff. John Frusciante does some great drum programming, and of course the legendary programming of JDilla
Thriving in the heart of the east coast music scene, Toronto is the place Devon Cuddy calls home. His roots run deep within the industry, with influences like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earl and James Booker, he is making his own mark with a blues sound that fills you up with goodness and keeps you coming back for more.
Name: Devin Cuddy Age:27 Where are you writing this: In the van on the way to a show
Home is where your story begins please tell us about yours.
I was born and raised in Toronto and its been a good home to me, no plans to leave. Right now I live at the Cameron House in the apartments above the bar, great community feeling up there. Its also a great spot to meet great artists of all sorts.
Best describe your musical style. We draw mostly from country and New Orleans Blues. Its been a challenge to blend the 2 into a cohesive sound and genre, the battle continues. Artists I like (love!) include Professor Longhair, James Booker, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.
When did you ‘know’ music was going to be such a big part of your life?
When I started enjoying piano lessons around 15. I was not however, sold on being a performer, that came later around 22 or so, when I started playing shows. I first started at the Cameron House playing solo and it started from that.
What would you like us to know about the album ‘Kitchen Knife’? Its a continuation of our sound and my song writing style. The record has a bit more stuff on it then the last, Organ, wurlitzer, lots more percussion and more guitars. I think our style is a little more realised and I’m hoping that will come across to the listener.
Yamir means so much to us at Fresh Independence. His story inspires as he brings a genuine perspective of humanity and good energy to his approach to life. His light shines bright in an industry that can be tough at the best of times, especially for an indie artist. Let yourself go, feel the latino passion, and soon you too will not be able to get enough of that Party Love.
Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours.
I began in the streets of one of the poorest and most dangerous barrios of Managua, rapping and singing reggaeton. I was raised by my mother, grandmother, and aunts but my mother had to leave the country for many years to study medicine and help better our lives. There wasn’t a very bright future for other kids from my barrio, many of my childhood friends got mixed up with drugs and alcohol. And while I was not a saint back then, I was still able to distance myself from all of that and fight for something bigger in life.
Tell us a little about your musical history in Nicaragua.
Over 10 years ago I started rapping, mostly with friends. But little by little, I started writing my own songs and finding people who could record my demos. After a few years, I had the opportunity to form the urban pop group “Myla Vox” with other musicians in Managua – I added the urban-rap element to our sound. With patience and hard work, we became quite successful with our music, having 5 consecutive songs become radio hits and being able to play shows for thousands of fans. We even had the amazing opportunity to open for artists such as Pitbull and Wisin & Yandel. Myla Vox reached somewhat of a “celebrity status” in our own country and helped develop the idea of having “loyal fans”, something that was not seen before in Nicaragua.
(Above) “Kukra hill” is an indigenous community on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua where Spanish is not the first language, they speak Miskito– but when I went to Atlantic Coast with Myla Vox, these little girls knew me and my music! It was very special moment.
What is the song writing process like for you?
Songwriting for me is very liberating, it gives me a great sense of relief and allows me to find myself but at the same time let my imagination run and invent a totally new story. Generally, I start out recording a basic melody, usually with my cell phone (hahaha) and then once I can sit down and think things out, I work on the song structure and lyrics.
Shout out to your favourite bands or artists at the moment from both of your home countries.
Saludos a Carlos Mejia Godoy! He is a folkloric songwriter who, along with his family, has created a huge appreciation for Nicaragua’s folk music amongst our people. I also really dig Malos Habitos and Milly Majuc, they both have a great sound.