What “Our Day Will Come” Means To Zulu’s Anaiah Lei

Hey Anaiah! First off, I’m super grateful that you’re down to answer some of my questions! I really appreciate it & I appreciate you making a band for black punks. It’s easy to feel like punk isn’t for us sometimes, so thank you. 

Yo, absolutely! Blessings for hitting me up and wanting to talk about Zulu straight up! And yes, it’s important because we gotta straight up unite, we’re already judged being in the scene so, we for real need to stick together. 

The Nina Simone sample at the beginning of the “We’ve Only Just Begun” is so perfect. That interview is really beautiful. What’s your favorite Nina Simone song?

That interview is beautiful and I wanted to use it at the beginning to set a powerful start that would be changed up real quick! Hahaha! Like the record covers a lot of hard topics, but I want people, and especially my black folks, to remember how amazing we are and to not forget that. As you know, it’s easy to forget that with how we’ve been treated in this world.

And, “Just Like A Woman”! 

How would you sum up the philosophy behind Zulu?

Really, my main thing is I wanted to create a band that’s 100% for and about black folks. And hit topics that a lot of people overlook, as well as the obvious things we go through as people. But overall, just displaying what black power is all about, and showing those fake fools that wanna try to be down but don’t actually care about us. 

© Tim Strong

What does “Our Day Will Come” mean to you? 

I wanna believe that one day black folks won’t suffer the way we do now (and always have). That we’ll be able to live happily in this society without being hated for the color of our skin, and being treated unfairly for it. It seems like something completely out of reach though, which is the saddest thing. And although it’s easy to be negative and talk about everything that’s wrong (which I mean is pretty much what all the lyrics are about), I still wanna believe that there will be a day where our people won’t have to go through that. 

All the samples/interludes on “Our Day Will Come” are so cool and well-placed: from Chubbs’ (Carl Weathers) rendition of “We’ve Only Just Begun” at the end of the title-track, to Ruby and the Romantics’ “Our Day Will Come” on “I Sit Alone In My Four Cornered Room Staring At Candles,” to a 1962 Malcolm X speech as the outro to “Things Ain’t Gonna Change,” Buju Banton’s “Murderer” on “Watching From The Sideline,” and that beautiful piano track at the end of “52 Fatal Strikes.” Can you talk to me a little about the inspiration for these interludes, and the process behind incorporating them in the record?

Awww, thank you so much that means the world to me, and I put a lot of thought into those interludes as well! So, I love hip-hop and interludes and samples in tracks, before and after have always been a favorite for me. I wanted to have interludes that bridge each song into each other, and some that kinda hint at what the next songs gonna be about. Like “Sidelines” into “52,” the song is talking to people that kill and how they can be so cold enough to do so, which is exactly what the police do, and what “52” is about. I also love soul and wanted to have nice mellow parts in between all the chaos! But for people to really listen to what the samples are saying (even if it’s mad quick). It’s all pretty straight forward too, like going from “I Sit Alone” into “Things,” the lyric’s literally, “Our day will come, and we’ll have everything.” I know it’s talking about romance, but I used it to describe how one day we will have everything and more for our people, you know? That last sample of the piano, to me, is like looking at the sun rise, and kind of feels like hope. For me, after listening to it, I’ve let all my frustrations about what’s going on with us, and even though all that wickedness happens on the daily, I still love who I am, how I look, how my peoples look and no one’s gonna take that from me. Kinda like how the beginning of the record starts positive, followed by anger and frustration, it ends with hope. 

© Tim Strong

“Our Day Will Come” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” have both been covered by The Carpenters. Is there a Zulu/Carpenters connection?

There isn’t, no, hahaha, but I rate The Carpenters for sure! 

What’s your favorite Geto Boys track? Do you have a favorite member?

“No Nuts No Glory,” my G!!! 

I don’t personally, but RIP Bushwick Bill, for real yo. 

I’m always fascinated by one-man powerviolence/hardcore projects. Could you break down the writing and recording processes for Zulu? 

Yo, that stuff is hard as heck sometimes, I’m not even gonna lie. As a drummer, I’ve always written songs drums first, like straight up laying out the way the song’s gonna sound by making up the different parts on drums, then adding guitar after the fact. I might have an idea of a guitar line in my head while doing the drums, so I’ll write with that in mind, then when I try to lay down guitar it hardly ends up the way I imagined hahaha. It’s rare that I’ll do a song guitar first but once in a while it works out, or at least having one to work with, then I build drums around it. In terms of recording for the EP, I did drums first, then guitar, bass and vocals last (which straight up, I sound nothing live like on the record, hahaha!).

© Tim Strong

What’s your favorite powerviolence band? Who would you say Zulu is for fans of? 

Currently, it’s gotta be Sex Prisoner! Them fools are way too hard and a big influence on my stuff for real. And honestly, if you like Sex Prisoner, Mind Eraser, Weekend Nachos, Harm Done, and maybe like, 2008 Trash Talk, you’ll dig that Zulu style. 

Is it ever weird playing Zulu sets live? From the videos I’ve seen, it translates super well in a live-setting, completely rips! But, is it strange playing Zulu sets with a band?

It kinda was at first because it was something that was in my head for so long and I sat on it thinking, “Yo what if people just do not like it one bit?” But I try to stay away from the negatives most the time, and the thought of fronting a band was crazy to me. I’m used to playing drums and being way in the back. Thank you though, I’m glad it does, that makes me so happy, but sometimes it’s a little strange. But, word up, I love it! 

© Tim Strong

Who plays in Zulu when you play shows?

Right now, we got Zaine Drayton (who plays in Wacko) on bass, Braxton Marcellous (plays in a million bands) on first guitar, Dez Yusuf (1/2 of Crimewave 5150) on second guitar, and our newest member, all the way from AZ, Christine Cadette. Prior to her, we had Chris Navarro holding down the drums. 

What’s the coolest Zulu set that you’ve played so far?

Man, honestly, that set we did at Programme for the Dare release tape was insane and one of my favorites. A lil homie got knocked out but I hit him up after and he ended up being fine, which was great to hear! 

© Tim Strong

You definitely have your hands full, from Zulu to The Bots to Dare and Culture Abuse! Do you ever find it hard to separate the projects that you’re part of?

It can be a handful for sure, but I make it work! I’m happy to have band members that are understanding too and I try to be as responsible as I can be and plan ahead with everyone, make sure I’m not mixing up schedules and all that! 

How was that Culture Abuse show with Doja Cat? Favorite Doja Cat track?

That joint was random as heck, but fun as heck! You already know Doja slayed that spot, and shout out to her honestly. Hope I can see you soon Doja!

And “Roll With Us” goes way too hard! 

Do you ever skate to your own music? 

Awwwww, heck no! I think that’s the corniest thing you can possibly do. Unless you Terry Kennedy, he can do that! 

I checked out your adult contemporary mixtape, “Sensual Healing.” So smooth. What’s that track that comes in at 3:15. That track is crazy. 

Thank you homie, that was just a lil fun thing I did while at the crib during this quarantine!

It’s just a drumless track I found and I played along to it! 

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me! Any shoutouts that you wanna give?

Thanks again my G, I appreciate this heavy! 

Man, I’m not gonna go too into specifics, but shoutout to the folks in my bands, my close homies that rock with me and support me to tha fullest, Hello Kitty and the cosmic and living Force for real. Peace and blessings.

And may the force be with us all…

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