"What's on the horizon for us? Well, we're coming out with our own coffee—we're gonna be selling it as merch," says Mike Nahirnak, one of the guitarists behind Zulkamoon's "folk, rock, blues, jazz, reggae, ska, cumbia, you name it, it's in there" sound.
Inti Gonzalez, Mexico City transplant, the other guitarist and the nucleus around which the rest of Zulkamoon orbit, opened Café Cempoal on Agricola Street earlier this year as a home for good coffee, good art and good music, so it's not as much of a mystery as you may think.
Gonzalez moved here four years ago after studying music in Mexico. He met Matthew Duncanson and Nahirnak two and a half years ago while both were playing in other bands. The three of them decided to give it a go. "We said, 'Hey, why don't we try putting something together that people can dance to? Maybe a Latin feel with some reggae, because we all enjoyed that," says Nahirnak.
Since then, the band has grown to eight or nine members and shrunk back down to five: on double guitars: Inti and Mike, with Matt on drums, along with Chris Cookson on percussion and Devon Floyd on bass. Nahirnak says they started recording an album at one point, but it was never released.
"What we recorded back then wasn't representative of the band now and we're really picky about what we wanted to put out," he says. "It was more like everyone does their own part separately instead of playing together—we wanted to do it all together in the same room to get that vibe, that energy like our live shows."
Take a listen to some of Zulkamoon's stuff online and you'll find tunes that are undeniably dancey with mercurial tempos, and so effortlessly quick-witted that by the end you're exhausted from just listening. Nahirnak assures me, though, that although their sound is fluid, "It's not necessarily been easy to do. We go with what works—we have a pretty good ear for that," he says. "Inti has a big influence on the sound, but we all kind of bring our background to the music as well."
Along with the band's launch of their own coffee—er, merch—Zulkamoon has a record coming out at the end of the summer—hopefully. "It's just a matter of getting it done in between playing shows," says Nahirnak. "We're all working stiffs, so we only have weekends to squeeze in the music." Until then, you can enjoy the complicated cadences of Zulkamoon at the Company House for the Halifax Jazz Festival.
Zulkamoon w/ Afro Kumbé Soundsystem
Saturday, July 6 at 11pm, $12/$15
The Company House, 2202 Gottingent Street