The music of Indie Performer, Koukie is decidedly different, decidedly fabulous, decidedly avant garde! This London-¬based musical artist seamlessly blends and fuses rock, opera, punk, and cabaret into one fireball of sound for a new generation of music lovers. Please join us in an exclusive musical spotlight – Who is Koukie? Enjoy!
I would like to ask you for the readers of this online publication who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:
Musical madness with gleeful abandonment.
Best description of the year! With respect to musical icons, who would you consider to be your most significant musical influences?
I’m going to avoid the most popular answer to this question ‘’There are so many!’’, and just explain 3 major genres/artists that have shaped my musical taste into the fireball of sound it is today.
1. Classical Music. Obviously, an incredibly wide genre, which dominated first 16 years of my life with my great grandmother a piano teacher, my dad a trumpet player, and my parents sending me to a music school at the age of 3.5. Impossible to avoid an influence, but if I have to call out leading favorites, they would have to be Ludwig van Beethoven and Edvard Grieg.
2. Musical Theatre. Again, an ambiguous category with every possible variation within it. However, all of them satisfy my cravings for theatre, showtunes and class. From Leonard Bernstein to Marvin Hamlisch, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, to name a few.
3. Queen. Besides it being my dad’s favorite band and therefore inevitably knowing all of their songs by the age of 10, they possess a boldness and an abandonment that thrills me so powerfully, I am ready to drop everything the second their song comes on and I just have to live through all the shades of harmony and emotion it portrays.
Do you have a favorite song to play from your collection so far?
Yes. The one I’ve written most recently. It gets played again and again in my head until it’s settled and I have space in my heart to look at the next one.
I am interested to know who you are listening to at the moment. What bands and artists should we have our ears on right now who you think deserve the spotlight?
I don’t think just because it’s new that I should be listening to it now. It is difficult for me because I’m finding it really hard to get excited about a lot of the new releases. And more often than not, I end up going through music that was released from over 20 years ago to find something that inspires me. I build a collection of music to go back to, and each of the artists serve a different purpose – some of them are there to help me get through a tough day, some will give me that uplifting emotion that life is beautiful. Others are on my playlist to help me meditate and get rid of all the background noise in my head, or to just give me a ‘jump-around-and-shake-your-hair’ therapy. On top of all the music I mentioned as my main influences, there’s plenty of artists that keep influencing me on a daily basis. Jamie Cullum’s in it, Muse is in it, Michael Jackson, Sting, John Legend, Elbow, Sara Bareilles, Seal, even George Michael. But one artist I believe is not getting enough spotlight for her worth, is Fiona Apple. She’s been around for a long time, and has had 4 brilliant albums. All of which are each better than the other, and doesn’t have an expiry date. If I could only bring one album with me to a desert island, it would be one of Fiona’s. Which one? Now that’s a tough choice!
Since you write your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?
The inspiration comes from my life. Everything is really personal and real with me. So if the song says it, that means I’ve experienced it. Sometimes the experience might not be projected directly into my life but since I am incredibly empathic, I often emotionally put myself through someone else’s experience as if it was my own. I used to wonder why I did that, but now it is very clear – my paintbrush needs colors to paint the melodies with and for that I need emotions of all spectrums. Raw, pure and unprocessed. I need life events of every caliber. So I go looking for them, explore the world and people. Because every lyric and chord progression have a story behind it. And I can tell you exactly what I felt when it happened. That’s one part of the process. But the favorite part is definitely when after a struggle and doubt, a creation comes together on paper and then it’s time for tears. Tears of joy. Thrilling release and artistic ecstasy. Nothing compares to that feeling.
If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?
Fiona Apple. That woman has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. That’s what I love about art so much. You can create something in your bedroom, pulling your hair out, and then years later on the other side of the world, someone’s life is influenced heavily by your work, and most likely you will never find out. It’s crazy! You can literally have a profound encounter with a stranger you will never meet. And maybe even save their life if you are really lucky. Transcendence.
So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?
Supporting my insatiable thirst to find out what lies behind the horizon. Getting to know as many different areas and people as possible so that I can slowly fill out the complex puzzle of human race. And the only way I am able to gain that kind of wisdom, is through a direct experience. I’ll throw myself into something and stay there for as long as I figure out how it works. I don’t have to succeed in that particular field because I am not there to make a career, I am just visiting in search for adventure and conducting social research. I already have a job, and that’s sharing my findings through music. My favorite activities will change depending on the sector of life I’ve embarked upon and am currently exploring passionately. So I guess the answer to your question is, my favorite thing to do when I’m not writing/producing/playing etc, is claiming my birthright and embracing the fact that for me this world is nothing more than something to explore endlessly.
Now for our non-music question: Name five things you can’t live without?
Music? Ha. It’s not true, I’m sure I could live without music, I just really, REALLY don’t want to. Interesting question actually. Some of my colleagues were recently listing things they could never give up in their life, amongst them being coffee, wine, meat, sleep, chocolate etc. And it made me wonder. If we rise above the level of survival and basic human needs to sustain oneself, I actually don’t think there is anything I couldn’t really live without if I decided to. Except love. It is really important for me to love and be loved by people that are dear to me. Without the comforting sentiment of birth of love between two individuals, even if the relationship doesn’t last, I would lose all purpose of life and wither away. I find affection such a beautiful thing.
WOW! I love your response.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into when you are performing or on the road that you can let us in on?
That’s a great question. But funny thing about trouble is that so far we have been very lucky and have had only great experiences gigging. I hope it continues that way.
Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?
Yes. And probably exactly the same way I’ve done it. Just because your predecessor-self didn’t know as many facts as you do now, doesn’t mean they were intuition-less and couldn’t follow their instincts. Sometimes knowing too much can mislead you and stop you from going after your dream. Nevertheless, I believe we should thrive to grow and learn more every day but that is a different topic altogether.
If you were not performing, what do you think you would be doing professionally and why?
I would either be a doctor, a detective, or a lawyer. A doctor because of my compassion, love for humanity and unstoppable desire to save the world. A detective because of my strong intuition, inquisitive nature and distinctive sense of right and wrong. And a lawyer because despite of possessing all of the above, I am also rattled by cognitive dissonance and dualism I see around me every day. Nothing is ever black or white, and any fact can be looked at from an angle where it contradicts itself in seconds. Now how does one make up its mind about anything when possessing this prism of a perception? Everything is relative, it is just a case of which point of view you’ve chosen today. Mad!
What’s your motto or the advice you live by?
Never stop believing in miracles. Only then anything will actually be possible.
Ten years from now you will be….
Ten years older than now :-)
As a great send off, tell us about one of your greatest moments as a performer.
It would have to be the moment I had the good fortune to hear my diary being translated into 100 different instruments. A moment when a full symphony orchestra graced the staged with me to perform my creations. Seeing what I had heard in my head when it was just me and a keyboard in my bedroom, materialize in front of my eyes and take off like a space ship, was actually unbelievable. Performing with a wall of sound like that behind me, was like flying a magic carpet through the sky. I don’t like to exaggerate but it was absolutely incredible. I wish everyone could experience a triumph of that intensity in their life, whatever it might be. It is a feeling that I hold dear to me and long to relive again, again and again.
Interview by : Isaac Davis