Interview: Muroki Traverses Genres and ‘Timezones’ in His Cheeky, Sexy, & Soulful Third EP

Muroki 'Timezones' © 2024
Muroki 'Timezones' © 2024
A smoldering, seductive reverie, Muroki’s ‘Timezones’ EP gets us moving and grooving as the New Zealand artist embraces his emotional depths, unleashing his heart and soul in seven irresistible songs.
Stream: ‘Timezones’ – Muroki

Long distance is a notorious relationship killer, but it’s got nothing on Muroki.

The 22-year-old New Zealand artist’s third EP navigates love and distance with grace and charm; he holds nothing back in capturing that very real heartache so many of us know all too well, but he doesn’t let it stop him from basking in connection’s warm glow, either. What results is a record full of heat, passion, tension, and raw energy: A smoldering, seductive reverie, Timezones gets us moving and grooving as Muroki embraces his innermost emotional depths, unleashing his heart and soul in seven irresistible songs.

Timezones - Muroki
Timezones – Muroki
You’re the reason why
I got skin to lose
Watch me idolise
Every part of you
Gimme butterflies
Howling to the moon
Sing a lullaby
Tuck me in that love cocoon
– “Love Cocoon,” Muroki, BENEE

Released March 7 via Olive Records / Universal Music New Zealand, Timezones is a stunning marriage of pop and soul, love and longing. Arriving a year and a half after his sophomore EP Heading East, Muroki’s third longform collection is a mature, cohesive sets of intimate enchantments – each one a world unto itself, revealing a piece of the New Zealand artist’s own lived experience.

“It’s a black soul record which speaks to the rainbow of emotions and experiences that I’ve endured throughout my relationship,” Muroki tells Atwood Magazine. “My aim was to pull together an array of my favourite genres – everything from rhythm & blues and hip-hop, to indie and funk – all tied together with a cheeky, sexy, soulful vocal.”

Muroki 'Timezones' © 2024
Muroki ‘Timezones’ © 2024

From the EP’s red-hot, deep-grooved opener “Bad Dreams” and the hypnotic, synth-soaked “Tight Rope,” to the boldly brooding “Lady Trouble,” the infectiously catchy “Love Cocoon” – a collaboration with fellow Kiwi (and close friend) BENEE – and the moody, mellow enchantment “Middle Ground,” Timezones proves a truly singular, breathtaking journey from end to end. It’s an emotional awakening for the young artist himself, and one he proudly considers his best work yet.

Atwood Magazine recently caught up with Muroki to discuss musical growth, collaboration, and more: Hear more from this exciting artist in our interview below, and get lost in the wondrous world of Timezones, out now!

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:: stream/purchase Timezones here ::
:: connect with Muroki here ::
Stream: “Love Cocoon” – Muroki


Timezones - Muroki

Atwood Magazine: Muroki, congratulations on the release of Timezones! What’s the story behind this EP?

Muroki: Thank you! Being long distance would be the leading story in the EP.

This record arrives two years after your last EP, Heading East. How do you feel you’ve changed since that release, and where do you hear the growth in your new music?

Muroki: I think my voice has developed quite a lot since Heading East. I can definitely sing a lot higher now and I’ve found different characters in my voice that I have a lot more control over now.

You've described this as “a black soul record which speaks to a rainbow of emotions and experiences,” which I absolutely love! Can you share a bit about what that means to you?

Muroki: I find it so hard to categorise my music within a few genres because there are so many moods and genres within each song, each fairly different from the next. So I figured, I’m black, it’s soulful, I’ll just roll with that! (laughs)

Muroki 'Timezones' © 2024
Muroki ‘Timezones’ © 2024

You've also talked about how you sought to pull together R&B, hip-hop, indie, and funk on this record. How did you go about doing that, who are some of your favourite artists from those worlds?

Muroki: I wrote the bulk of the EP within two weeks alongside Dave Hammer who mixed everything and produced most of it.  This meant it was much easier for me to create a track list that felt cohesive, even when one song sounded so different from the next.

Some artists would be Prince, Daniel Caesar, Kanye West, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Childish Gambino, Michael Jackson and Curtis Mayfield.

And so, why the title “Timezones”?

Muroki: To be honest, it just felt right. A fair few of the songs involve long distance and the EP was made in 3 or 4 different ‘timezones.’ I didn’t want to overthink it, so I stuck with it.

You open with “Bad Dreams,” which, musically speaking, is far from a nightmare. Why open with this song, and what does it mean for you?

Muroki: I imagined it being the first song I’d play in a live set, so I put it at the beginning. Sets a fresh tone for Muroki.

I really loved the other two singles for this record, “Love Cocoon” and “Middle Ground.” Can you share a bit about these two songs and why you chose to lead with them?

Muroki: I think at the time it was long overdue for a mellow Muroki song, so that’s why I started with “Middle Ground,” followed by “Love Cocoon,” which just had a nice vibe; it’s not invasive or too commercial sounding, It’s just a nice tune that I wanted to share.

What was it like working with BENEE? Does collaboration come easy for you?

Muroki: She’s amazing to work with. I was living at BENEE’s house at the time she recorded her verse, so it was super chill. I love collaboration too, not just with other artists, but also with producers and writers. You learn so much working with different people.

The track “Tight Rope” is absolutely hypnotic – I love everything from the beat to the synths and the hot-on-the-mic vocals on this song. What’s the story behind this track?

Muroki: Thank you! It’s about playing the game in the music business where people put a price on your art, where in fact the art is priceless.

How do you feel Timezones reintroduces you and captures your artistry, especially compared to your previous EPs Dawn and Heading East?

Muroki: I think it’s matured.

Do you have any definitive favorite songs or lyrical highlights off this record?

Muroki: I think writing “Bad Dreams” was one of my favourite sessions I’ve ever done. Here’s a snippet of the chorus lyrics:

Why’d you go closing your feels over a bad dream
Covering up sex appeal over a bad dream
Why’d you go closing your feels over a bad dream
You kick me out to the curb
I got sick and disturbed
That baby you got the nerve
I ain’t done shit to deserve you been in bad dreams
Muroki 'Timezones' © 2024
Muroki ‘Timezones’ © 2024

A little fun one before we head out… Can you describe this record in three words?

Muroki: Soulful, playful, and emotional.

Finally, what do you hope listeners take away from Timezones, and what have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Muroki: I just hope people enjoy listening to the EP as much as I enjoyed making it. This EP has just been a nice reminder of how much I enjoy writing, playing and listening to music.

In the interest of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Muroki: Definitely go and listen to Sampha’s new album Lahai and Paulo Nutini’s album Caustic Love. Two amazing albums I have listened to over the past year.

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:: stream/purchase Timezones here ::
:: connect with Muroki here ::

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Timezones - Muroki

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