Interview: ku:hu – by your side

Combining elements of lo-fi with R&B and neo-soul to create a unique soundscape, queer and non-binary musician ku:hu tells her own story of heartbreak & finding their own identity in the world we live in.

Hi ku:hu, how are you today?

Hey! I’m doing really well, thank you. I hope you are as well 🙂

For those that haven’t heard of you yet, how would you best describe your sound, and who have been your biggest influences so far?

My sound is definitely nostalgic, atmospheric & ethereal. Those are the three words I would use to describe it. My music is a vessel for me to tell my own story of heartbreak and finding myself. 

My influences stem from pretty much anywhere, I have a pretty broad music taste; I think this comes from moving around so much growing up and encountering so many different genres of music. 

But I would say, musically, my biggest influences stem from 80s & 90s R&B music; artists like Sadé, TLC, Toni Braxton & Aaliyah really shaped my childhood.

Do you remember what the first song was that made you want to start a career in music?

I grew up playing the piano and was heavily into music as a kid, but I didn’t have a desire particularly to write and create my own music, I just wanted to play.
However, there are technically two songs that made me want to create! One of the first songs was ‘Michicant’ by Bon Iver. I was like 13 when I discovered this song. There was something so deceivingly simple and profound about that song that really stuck with me and gave me such chills. But I didn’t really think anything about creating music, I saw creating as kind of a pipe dream that would never come to fruition.

It wasn’t until, many years later, I discovered The Internet and the song ‘Girl’ which they collaborated on with Kaytranada. I delved deeper into both The Internet & Kaytranada’s discographies and was like: Okay, this. This is the kind of music I want to create.

You have just released your new single ‘by your side’. Can you tell us how that track came about?

The story of how this came about is actually rather beautiful. This is actually the first song I’ve ever written. 

I was at Berklee College of Music studying for my masters degree during the pandemic and I had an assignment for production class which involved sending in a demo of a song you’re working on. At the time I only had a chord sequence in mind that I would play over and over on the keyboard in my apartment but I didn’t know where I could possibly fit it so that it would work in a song. One night, I sat down and started using my keyboard as a drum, programmed it into Logic Pro and that’s how the beat began. I sent in that demo version to my production class without any lyrics because I thought I could work on that during the main recording assignment. However, my teacher told me I needed lyrics (or even a melody) in order for it to count as a demo and this is where I was panicking because I only had 2 days to send in lyrics alongside this (very rough) beat I had made. 

Thanks to some friends around me, I was given the number of wroi, a fellow student at Berklee (and now someone who’s a dear friend), who I had never even met at that point and I decided to contact him to see if he was up for collaborating with me on it. He ended up writing the lyrics and recording the vocals on a rainy night before the demo assignment was due in (ironically the same night I had recorded the rain sound to add into the song later on) and that’s how the track came about. 
We added some extra flair to it thanks to some great friends to make it the track that it is now!

And is there a story behind it?

Simply put, the song talks about a toxic relationship, that you know should end. You aren’t happy, you can see your person isn’t happy. But you can’t help but reminisce on the good moments and cherish those rather than think about the toxic side of things. It definitely resonates to a period in my life haha

Can we expect a new EP or even an album from you in the near future?

So this song is actually part of a bigger project that I am currently working on at the moment titled ‘The Long Weekend’. Basically the EP is a story told through song and this is the final song on the EP. So we wait and see what pieces of the puzzle will fit next…

The coronavirus outbreak has obviously affected everyone’s plans, but what have you got in store for the rest of the year?

I am going to rest a little bit because the last year has been hectic to say the least, with finishing my masters and finishing this song! I will definitely be getting back into writing more music again and finishing this EP properly. 

And finally, what is the best piece of musical advice you have ever been given?

One of the best (albeit probably very simple) pieces of advice I was ever given was to not let fear get in the way of creating music, let it fuel you.

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