The Boy Azooga story encompasses a musical map of influences that include The Beach Boys, Nigerian funk, krautrock and 1940s British noir fiction. Boy Azooga’s debut album, 1, 2 Kung Fu, is piloted by Davey Newington, a young man with much musical heritage. His Grandad played drums for the Royal Marines and his Mom (clarinet) and Dad (violin) played in the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales where Davey himself also played the triangle. More recently, and operating as one Bongo Fury, he became the rhythmic pulse for Late Night Pop Dungeon, playing drums as Charlotte plied joyous pop hedonism to Glastonbury and beyond. This would have been enough for some, but now Davey returns as Boy Azooga.
Davey’s vocals and arrangements carry the tuneful yearning of early Badly Drawn Boy. But the palette extends far beyond singer-songwriterly poignancy. Davey recruited friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes to form the Boy Azooga live quartet, an ensemble that swings smoothly from filmic instrumentals to a churning, rave-tinged rock that hints at both Can and their progeny in Happy Mondays.
“The album is not all one thing for sure,” says Davey. “The whole point of Boy Azooga is to be a celebration of loads of different types of music. I wanted the album to be more like a mixtape or something”. Davey is evangelical about his musical influences.
Alongside the triangle, Davey also played timpani, xylophone and sleighbells for various youth orchestras. But Davey’s treasure chest of hand-held percussion doesn’t stop there. Maracas are a key feature with Face Behind Her Cigarette, the song with which Boy Azooga often finish their live set, and which turns into a rave/psych monster-mash in the process.
“I started off with two pairs of maracas,” says Davey, “my lucky black maracas from this shop in Cardiff… Then my girlfriend and my best friend knew we had loads of gigs coming up. So they got me all these cheap maracas for my birthday, like 40, and drew different stuff on them – the date of a gig and so on. I think I currently have about 50 pairs. We lose a few at gigs but I’m hoping that’ll change and people will start bringing their own…”
Secure your maracas, grab those sleighbells. The Boy Azooga beat is already among us – and getting louder.