Julia Stiles. Jim Henson. Riot Grrrl. New Zealand. All of these fantastic things come to mind as you watch the new video from Skux, a band formed earlier this year in the paradise of New Zealand by Milwaukee native and band managing badass Ayisha Jaffer. By day, Ayisha runs her own management company, Greater Than Propaganda, but she lets her hair down in Skux at night…sometimes in puppet form, as the video shows.
“It’s the most epic honor to have a puppet made after you,” Ayisha says of the video, director by Liam Moore (who also made the puppet). “We look the same. Especially the gimp arm.”
The track, “More Than 10 Things,” is a parody of the 90s classic, 10 Things I Hate About You. “I wrote the verses initially as a poem on a whim about the guy I was dating at the time, and then of course the relationship ended unfavorably and therefore…the song took on a new tone,” Ayisha says of the track she recorded with Dan Walker of New York’s The Death Set. “I love you, I hate you, I love you, Eff you…I don’t think I actually hate him though.”
We talk to Ayisha about her big move from the States to New Zealand, her day and night jobs, and what’s next below!
You moved from New York to New Zealand to take a break from your job at Punkdafunk. Did you also take a break from making music then? If so, how did you come back to it?
Initially, the idea was to go to New Zealand to have an adventure and a break. It was also meant for me to have some time to focus on my creative self, so that meant painting, taking photos, writing, and making music. And in the beginning, I did a little bit of all of that, and a lot of photography because this place is beyond beautiful. I wrote a few songs as well, but I ended up being so distracted by doing new things like hiking, diving, and pretty much anything extreme or nature-related…and then all of the most time-consuming but epic jobs you could think of. I dived into other aspects of music I didn’t know before. I learned to do radio shows. I learned the ukulele, and I was in recording studio spaces much more often than before, making producer comments.
As far as coming back to music, I kind of got thrown into a studio and given a time limit. And off I went at 100 miles a minute from there. Almost instantly, I found a band on the deck of my own house party and then decided I wanted to improve my theory and conducting and hearing skills and started a seven-piece Motown group, the Swagettes.
Your band in New York at the time that you left—I Eat Paint—was about to be signed. But you walked away. Why? I’m sure for some people that would be hard to imagine, given this “you have one shot to make it!” mentality.
I walked away because I ha already made my decision to go to New Zealand and committed to it at that point. It was a now-or-never situation. When I talked to the immigration officer, it was like All Dogs Go to Heaven. If I didn’t go now, “you can never go back.” So I stuck to it. At that point, also, I knew what the road ahead looked like for our band. I imagined that if this opportunity came once, it will come again, and I’ll be able to do it better next time around and be in a better position to do what I want to do.
How did you first meet Dan Walker? How did you decide to work together?
I met Dan physically when I entered his studio, Submarine, in Brooklyn. My friend Kelley actually introduced us via email whilst I was traveling. I was toying with the idea of working on some new music, and she recommended Dan. The rest is history. Kelley is a music matchmaker.
Who did you find to perform with in New Zealand?
My band is comprised of Timothy Berry, guitarist extraordinaire. He’s also in Polyester. Paul Brown, the bass god of Trust Punks, and Mike Ellis, a drum phenomenon who’s played with Surf City. I found a bunch of unicorns, they are amazing musicians and songwriters.
What’s next for Skux?
Currently, we are working on our EP and are going to play a bunch of Summer Festivals in this hemisphere (down unda!). I’d also like to get us to the Northern Hemisphere doing some road warrior summer tours. We will also have some banger remixes coming out for the D-floors. Who knew? Indie dance hits here we come!
Skux’s The Two Sides of She is out now on Bandcamp.