Zun Zun Egui
De La Warr Pavilion, Marina, Bexhill, Monday, March 2

THE fusion genre has become something of a dirty word over the years – creating images of 1980s jazz saxophonists taking African drummers on tour, or ill-advised forays into so-called world music by singer-songwriters who should know better.

Zun Zun Egui guitarist and frontman Kushal Gaya sees his band’s music as real seamless integration – mixing the rock dynamics of Led Zeppelin and Nine Inch Nails with a myriad of more traditional instrumentation.

“Our track Ruby has a basis of an African rhythm, which comes from the African side of the island,” he says of his home country Mauritius, which provided much of the inspiration for the band’s second album Shackle’s Gift.

“The drums are religious Tamil drums from southern India. You get this unique mixture of things, two traditions together giving the colour we used on the track.”

It was coming home with his Bristol-based band to play a stadium show for Mauritius’ Independence Day celebrations which got Gaya thinking about Zun Zun Egui’s second album.

“One day I met this fisherman, and we started chatting about the origins of the folk music I grew up with,” he says.

“He started telling me about the slaves and forced labourers who used the mechanical sounds of the machines which were almost torturing them and transformed them into music.”

As well as strong rhythms Gaya plays with language on the album, reflecting the 12 languages to be found on Mauritius.

“When you have a language there are people behind it, and once there are people there is a whole lot of experience, culture and traditions,” he says, adding musicians have had many different historical influences.

“If you listen to The Beatles, the way McCartney and Lennon work their guitar and bass around it’s like Bach. There’s lots of counterpoint going on and great harmony. It is a fusion if you want to call it that.”

Zun Zun Egui grew out of a friendship between Gaya and Japanese keyboard player Yoshino Shighara, who first met in Bristol in 2008.

“I was enjoying making music and the interaction we had, and still have,” says Gaya. “In early incarnations of the band we were very much pure energy – an ‘anything goes’ kind of thing. It was why people came to see us play, as they got that sense of fun and collaboration.

“We have become really interested in our craft now – in songwriting. It’s almost like a reaction to what we did before. Writing a song is more challenging to us – so much goes into it.”

Helping put their vision together was Andy Hung from Bristol electronic duo F*** Buttons, who Zun Zun Egui toured with in 2009.

“I went to see him play at the Brixton Electric – I hadn’t seen him for a long while,” says Gaya. “Afterwards I said we were looking for a producer and he straight away said he would do it. We were pretty well drilled before we got into the studio – we didn’t have a big budget. Andy was great – musically he was coming from somewhere very different.”

One of the biggest highlights of the album is closing track City Thunder, which looks at the notion of home, with its repeating refrain: “Sometimes I worry I left my country.”

“A lot of people relate to that especially in a country like the UK,” says Gaya. “Being in another place, having to learn the whole culture here around the music and the music business – there are people who think you can’t do this, that it’s not your place.

“It’s about making a connection with yourself. Once you start bulls****ing yourself about who you are and who you are not, and who you want to be, you forget about being in the present and expressing you. At the end of the day it’s about you, not other people.”

Support from Otti And The Voices.