Q&A: Too Many Zooz’s Matt Doe

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If you’ve never heard of the band Too Many Zooz, chances are that you’ve seen their videos on YouTube that have racked up millions of views, showcasing the fancy moves of their pompadoured baritone sax player Leo P. The trio is a busking phenom in the subways of New York City for the past few years and somehow manages to smash together jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms, funk and even EDM structures and house music.

They’re making their way for a show to San Francisco with a show at The Independent on Thursday, May 24th, and checked in with us to talk about what it’s like to perform for years in the NY subway, what being famous on Youtube is like, and what it was like to be contacted by Beyonce and asked to make a cameo on her new album.

For people not familiar with you guys, how would you describe the band?
It’s hard to describe because there is nothing quite like it. It’s not something I can describe through referencing genres or other artists … I think it’s a representation of energy in its purest form.

How’d you first come together?
Sludge and Leo were playing in another subway band in NYC called The Drumadics. Then they started playing just the two of them down in the subway, sometimes with Sludge’s son on djembe. About two months later, I came along one day after just hanging with Leo uptown. We felt good after that first hit and knew there was something there to harness.

What was it like to see your Youtube clips blow up the way that they did?
Haha. Man. It’s crazy waking up and realizing millions of people have watched you do your thing. It’s very surreal. But to be honest, after going viral a few times, we are just more focused on the music, like before going viral and all that. The attention is great, and we couldn’t be more grateful about all of our success and the way people have received us, but you cant get hung up on that shit. It’s all about the art and making more and more and more.

Beyonce was so impressed with you guys that she snatched you up for her album. What was that like?
All very surreal. It’s what you would imagine it’s like to be called by the most prestigious and well-respected artist in the entire world. I have to say, she and her entire team were nothing but wonderful to us. Really a testament to good people winning.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys while busking in the subways in New York?
There’s always tons of crazy shit going on down there, haha. SantaCon sucks. As does St. Paddy’s Day and Halloween. A lot of drunk people walking around aimlessly looking for something stupid to do. Also, crackheads.

What’s your ultimate goal with music?
I’m not sure. I think one of the beauties of being an artist is following your path. The first thing I learned about the music industry is that, ultimately, you can’t plan for most things. Most things just happen or don’t and it’s usually out of your control. So for me, I just wanna keep making records and experimenting with new sounds and try to push the boundaries and reach the widest audience.

You’re set to perform in San Francisco soon. Have you guys played here before and what do you think of our city?
Yes, we’ve played San Francisco loads of times. It’s a fun time out there. I love California in general. Ya’ll just have shit kinda figured out right for the most part.

What do you all like to do when not playing music?
Spend time with loved ones. This is about the only thing I think we do other than live music. Even when we’re not on the road, we’re constantly writing records for other people, or doing some personal stuff. But yeah, usually making some sort of music. So when we take time off, it’s mainly to sleep and catch up with our families and friends.

Too Many Zoos plays with Yip Yops at The Independent on May 24 // Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM

With a discography that includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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