By Will Brewster
The LA-via-Perth artist and producer highlights the long road to her debut album.
Creativity and fame is a fun thing. Some artists thrive in the limelight and thrive on fame; others tend to thrive in the shadows, lending their talents to the former and happily honing their craft in studio sessions without an overt aura of stardom hanging over their heads.
For almost a decade, KUÄKA – born Laura Jane Lowther – was a fine example of the latter.
Emerging in 2012 with an eponymous EP that fused woozy synths and bizarre vocal treatments with elements of glitch, post-dubstep and IDM, it was obvious from the start that KUÄKA had star potential, and its chops to production were quickly noted by both locals. contemporary and international heavyweights.
In the years to come, KUÄKA will adapt his art as a truly distinct sound architect alongside A $ AP Rocky (‘Fashion Killa’, LONG LIVE A $ AP ‘), Fetty Wap and fellow Australian Wunderkind Flume, its creative partnership. the latter resulting in main appearances on tracks with Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar and the late SOPHIE.
All the while, KUÄKA continued to release a host of stylistically ambiguous EPs and navigate the global touring circuit, moving to Los Angeles and starting the process of finalizing their debut album, Catch; available today via Soothsayer / LuckyMe.
A dense set of compositions that emanate from confidence, technical skills and pure creativity, Catch is the by-product of nearly a decade of hard work on behalf of KUÄKA, and by far it stands out as its most defining work to date.
Songs like “ Joyride ”, “ Ascension ” and “ Eternity ” highlight KUÄKA’s ability to easily merge obscenely choppy vocals and with a pop aesthetic, “ No Good For Me ” is a irresistible number in flavors of UK Garage which is intended for the dance floor. debauchery, and âYour Worldâ and the closer album âPatienceâ demonstrate the emotional journey of the multi-talented artist throughout his career.
On 12 tracks, offbeat electronic grooves collide with sparkling synthesizers and punchy sub-frequencies, KUÄKA’s signature vocal treatments swirling and floating above the mix to make this one of the most dizzying electronic projects of 2021 nowadays.
With the album now out, we chatted with KUÄKA to learn more about the album’s long incubation period, its approach to collaboration, and the creative process behind it. Catch.
Tell us how Catch all came together – I understand you wrote over 50 pieces whole music working for the project? How much time did you spend working on the album?
I’ve spent a lot of time alone in the studio over the past few years. But I believe everything you work on has its benefits. Even if no one else ends up hearing it, you might have found a cool little way to mod a synth, or experienced a weird new way to resample a voice, so I like to experiment on even tracks. if they end up sitting on my computer forever.
I love the gradual evolution of your production style over the past few years, and I think it’s particularly prevalent on this album. What motivated you to adopt such a fluid approach to production, and how does this relate to Catch?
I really had time to focus on my production while writing this album and I think I’m improving in creating the sounds I’m envisioning. I don’t think you need good technical skills to
making great music, but for me finding my own personal beats has been helpful as I can pick up on my ideas quickly and really capture the mood I’m aiming for.
Describe the interaction between your writing and production process. Do you start with an instrumental, vocal or lyrical idea? Are you more motivated by creating music than writing or arranging vocals?
I would say my writing style is a bit unpredictable because I always start with something different. When I feel particularly moved I find it a good time to write lyrics, and if I’m a little tired I can work on the production because I don’t have to think about it so much, I can somehow so feel it in my body.
Wrestling also navigates some incredibly complex and personal themes. Have been Are there any specific songs that were really difficult for you to write?
I found it super cathartic to work on things with my lyrics. I realized that I needed a lot of time to process things and writing music really gave me that personal introspective time.
Paint us a picture of your own studio space. Are you working with hardware, or all in the box? Are there specific pieces of equipment or software that are absolutely critical to your process?
I mostly use software synths these days, but I like playing hardware synths to get melodic ideas. I would say my microphone is the most important piece of equipment. I bought a Sony c800g a few years ago and it made recording so much easier that I can immediately get the sound I want, without having to worry about adding too much effects.
What about singing? The way you layer your own voice across the album is really awesome – are you engineering yourself while you work too?
Yes, I think engineering my own voice was the key for me to develop my own sound. This means I can record when my vocals are at their best and I’m never in a rush to cut them down. I can change the
inflections, words and melodies progressively without external pressure.
I’m also a huge fan of your drum lineup and sample selection – it’s all going so well, and the timing and placement of your percussion patterns is really refreshing. What’s your secret to creating such a distinctive rhythmic interaction?
I like to arrange each sample on its own track to have control over each individual waveform. This way you can tweak the samples slightly where you need them and create slight variations in a way that is more difficult when working with a midi instrument or drum machine.
You’ve also collaborated with a number of prominent hip-hop and electronic players including A $ AP Rocky, SOPHIE, Vince Staples and Flume. Is there a unique production that you can identify as your favorite collaboration experience, and what is the most valuable lesson you learned from someone you worked with?
I still love working with Flume because I feel like there is never a lot of pressure to create a âsongâ. The last few times we hung out we spent a lot of time scrambling and playing with modular material, looping it, etc. and it was a lot of fun. I love making music with people when I feel really comfortable.
Now that you’ve got the debut album in your bag, what do you plan to work on? following?
I have done some collaborations that will come out this year and I am also working on the new KUÄKA which is really exciting.
Catch is now available through Soothsayer / LuckyMe.