Amazumi: the late bloomer with a venomous tongue
Amazumi (before Zulu Moon) is a female MC with Nepalese roots, who grew up in Hong Kong and moved through London to Belgium. She calls herself a late bloomer as she only got involved with the hip hop scene 5 years ago. Last week she turned 30, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for what she wants: getting by by doing the one thing she loves. She participated in De Nieuwe Lichting 2017, dropped her first EP as Amazumi in March and has a new EP coming up soon. We found the perfect moment at Putrock to have a chat with this inspiring MC.
Photos by Sacha Claes and Chess Teugels, text by Melissa Awouters
You were a journalist yourself before becoming a musician. How do those careers connect?
I started my career in journalism when I was 19. People were suprised when I chose to do something totally different. But it actually makes a lot of sense: both crafts involve writing, having a voice, thinking and reflecting. But music is less restrictive, while journalists are supposed to be unbiased. I was living in a different world before. I was always interested in making music, but I never thought I would do it seriously. I was only really exposed to the hip hop scene after I moved to London and met a bunch of people who were involved with elements of hip hop, like MC’s and break dancers.
The first time I laid any raps was in London, around 2010 or 2011. I think moving to London was the steppingstone, the trigger. I was lucky to end up in the right environment. I spent two months in a student accomodation with other students from different ages, all Nepalese like me. Every day we were cyphering, filming choreography and performing at events. When you’re in that environment 24/7, it is inevitable that you get inspired yourself eventually.
Hopefully, I will be like a cool hip hop grandma!
Your music has a lot of attitude, does it reflect your personality?
I have a very shy and quiet side. I keep a lot of things to myself and those come out in the lyrics. It's the perfect outlet for me to say whatever the hell I want. While in real life I am the type of person that thinks a lot about how people might feel about what I say. In my music I express myself how I want, because somewhere out there someone can relate.
My attitude is situational. It will be there if it’s required. My brother said I have softened with age. As a teen you rebel a lot more and you’re just angry with the world, right? Some music still brings out the teenager in me. Music keeps you young. I mean, look at the Rolling Stones: They are all wrinkled, but they still feel like they in the sixties era.
So you will still be the same in 50 years?
Hopefully, I will be like a cool hip hop grandma! I would love it if I had kids and they would come on tour with me.
I assume you know some things about the hip hop scene in the UK, since you lived there for a year. What is the big difference between the UK and Belgium?
The UK, especially London, is more expensive. There is a lot of hustling going on. People are always trying to make money, just to pay the rent and have nothing left for anything else. MC’s are selling their CD’s on the street and pushing people to listen. There is a lot of competition. That’s the main difference. Artists in Belgium are more laid back. Here, we have the privilege to relax and just enjoy making music.
Amazumi has a strong feeling to it. It sounds like an Amazon or something Japanese and exotic. It symbolized a fresh start to me, because of all the things happening in my life.
Your name was Zulu Moon before. Why did you change it into Amazumi?
Zulu Moon just came to me in a flash, while Amazumi was more pre-meditated. I wanted to have a name that I could become and had conciously thought of. I was turning a new chapter in my life, musically as well as personally. Amazumi has a strong feeling to it. It sounds like an Amazon or something Japanese and exotic. It symbolized a fresh start to me, because of all the things happening in my life.
I also changed my management to Mellowminds. It all happened naturally. A group of friends got together and had the idea to create this organic platform. The idea was to start from scratch and grow together. Not with the aim of blowing up immediately, but putting local artists in the spotlight.
You work with a backup MC and a DJ, why this formation?
It was a circumstantial thing. My first choice was to play with a live band, because I feel better when I can vibe naturally on stage. It is okay for this EP that is quite electronic, but I want to expand it.
Electronic but influenced by oldschool MC’s?
I wouldn’t say all my influences are completely oldschool. There are a lot of new artists and projects constantly inspiring me, for example Noname Gypsy. She sounds like the female Chance The Rapper. She has made her own niche and I respect artists with their own sound. You can’t say they sound exactly like other artists, for example Anderson Paak or J. Cole. Ofcourse you can take influences, as long as it doesn’t sound generic.
Some oldschool musicians want to stick to music of a certain era. But that’s not the way to go, everything was new once.
We, as humans, go through phases and those should be reflected in your sound. You’re constantly discovering yourself.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
We, as humans, go through phases and those should be reflected in your sound. Music is great because your whole life is played out in it. You’re constantly discovering yourself. Sometimes you just go with the flow and only when you read it again you realise what it means. Instead of writing a book, you reflect on your thoughts by writing music.
You can write music from two different angles: telling an autobiographical story or wanting to escape the world. Sometimes I just want to make music that makes people move and not think about anything. That’s also music.
Do you think there is a lack of female MC’s?
There are definitly not as many female MC’s in the spotlight as male MC’s, but they do exist. If you look at Cyphereffect, you see all these girls rapping. But they do judge you differently as a female MC. You have to be exceptionally good. Or exceptionally good-looking. (laughs)
A few of my favourite female MC's are Queen Latifah, Ms Dynamite, MC Lyte, The Lady Of Rage, Rapsody, Lady Leshurr…. First I didn’t know how to feel about Princess Nokia, but I was sold when I saw her presence on stage. Same with the Dutch underground MC Rawberry. You feel your heart pounding when they are on stage.
Do you agree that the belgian hip hop scene is finally coming together?
Darrell Cole messaged me a couple of days ago. He told me I’ve got a new fan and he added me to his Spotify playlist. He was saying it’s time the scene unites and he is damn right!
V for Venom is purging, like I am taking all my poison out. While the first EP is very dark, the next one is meant to be lighter.
Are you working on anything right now?
My next EP is almost finished so it should be out soon. It is going to be in total contrast with my first EP as Amazumi. V for Venom is purging, like I am taking all my poison out. While the first EP is very dark, the next one is meant to be lighter in sound and content.
I do a lot of genre-bending, probably because I didn’t grew up with hip hop but with rock music. If you see any Nepalese people, their favourite band is probably a rockband! (laughs) My ultimate band was Rage Against the Machine. The first time I’ve heard someone MC’ing, was at a performance at school where some seniors covered Rage Against the Machine. That’s when I fell in love with the art form. I am a late bloomer when it comes to hip hop, that’s why I feel like there are many more chapters to unfold.