When KUČKA first arrived onto the scene close to a decade ago, few knew what the future would hold. Why, KUČKA (that is, the musical moniker of Laura Jane Lowther) likely had no idea that singles and EPs would follow in the coming years, yet alone tracks that would chart globally, reach Gold certification, or see her working with some of music’s biggest names.
But that’s exactly the sort of musical path that KUČKA has carved out for herself. Now, almost six years on from her last EP, the English-born, LA-based producer and vocalist is now back in a big way, with debut album Wrestling arriving into the world.
The product of a few years of change, the resulting record is described as focusing on themes of “young adulthood, finding yourself and meeting your soulmate along the way”, with the album arriving following a period of resounding growth, which includes the conclusion of a long-distance relationship, moving across continents, coming out, and also getting married.
To celebrate the album’s long-awaited release, KUČKA spoke to Rolling Stone about the creation of Wrestling, her musical journey, and what the record means to her and her career.
It’s been close to a decade since the world was first introduced to KUČKA by way of your first EP. What sort of musical career were you envisioning for yourself at the time? Did you ever have any sort of prediction you’d end up with the achievements you have to your name now?
At the time I was just so happy to be writing music. I had never seen it as a viable career path previously and definitely didn’t imagine it would lead to me doing it full time.
It’s been a few years since fans received a longer body of work from you, though singles and collaborations did arrive in this time. Had you always planned for your next project to be your debut album?
Yes, I knew I wanted to write it but I really needed time to focus solely on it. When I was working with others it kept getting pushed to the sidelines. When I spent more time alone in the studio I could be more introspective which was the headspace I needed to be in for Wrestling.
It’s something of a standard post-pandemic question, but had the record always been envisioned as being released in 2021, or had there been plans for an earlier release?
There were plans for an earlier release but due to various factors (including the pandemic) we thought 2021 would be better.
The release of an album is something that a lot of artists find themselves viewing as ‘less important’ given the current music environment and the culture of streaming. How do you view an album in this day and age? What does an an album mean to you?
I love that you can explore different types of tracks in an album. I think with a single there’s pressure to make it radio friendly but you can have more experimental ones on an album. Those slower more intimate tracks usually end up being my favourite.
The last few years obviously featured a lot of personal growth as well, ranging from – but not limited to – a cross-continental move, a long-term relationship, and all the emotions felt therein. This obviously leads to a rather fruitful pool of inspiration to draw from. How far back do these tracks date though? Are they a product of the last few years, or were they made comparatively recently?
Most of the tracks were written fairly recently but “Sky Brown” and some other bits and pieces of lyrics have been around for longer.
Following on from this, it would make sense that a lot of songs would have been written for this record. Was it a daunting process to cut it down to what we hear on Wrestling?
The final decision on what tracks to include came during the mixing process. It was very obvious to me which ones were going to work together when they were all side by side. “Sky Brown” almost didn’t make it onto the record, but Lee Buddle who I was mixing with added it to the final mix folder and was like, “It sounds great you should totally include it”. I’m so glad he did that as I think it really fits now!
It can often be difficult for fans to relate to music which is so deeply rooted in personal stories and experiences for the artist. Wrestling however, feels almost universally relatable and accessible. Was this something that you had kept in mind throughout its production?
Definitely. I realised early on in the writing process that a lot of the stuff I was going through was pretty universal. I wanted to make sure there was an access point lyrically for others to be able to understand what I was talking about and apply it to themselves.
As an artist, is it difficult to write so openly and with such vulnerability, or is it something that has become easier? I would assume it could be a difficult experience to relive the sort of subject matter that inspired songs like the title track, yet one that is so important from a personal growth point of view?
It’s actually super cathartic for me to write about really personal things, and it helps me explore my thoughts and work through them.
Likewise, the music itself – which changes genres and styles frequently – serves as something of an illustration of this growth as well. How important do you feel the relationship is between music and lyrics, and how did the two aspects differ in their creation?
You can be very direct with lyrics, but with production, although it’s abstract, you can set the mood more easily, so they both need to work together in order to express what you want them to.
Previous songs have seen you experiment with production and sound, this record also feels more cohesive and flowing. Was there a specific decision made to treat the songs as – for lack of a better word – ‘songs’?
I really wanted the lyrics to be a focus on this record as I knew I wanted it to be very personal and intimate. I found that the more traditional song structures really helped in allowing the listener to understand the lyrics and feel connected to them.
The video for ‘Eternity’ also featured your directorial debut. What was the experience of venturing into another creative field like?
It wasn’t a huge change for me as I had been working closely with my wife Dillon on the previous 5 videos we released for the album. The main difference was that this one wasn’t really planned. I had an idea of what I wanted and when I saw it was raining outside I was like ‘quick we gotta drive up to the mountains!! I wanna make a video’ Dillon was a bit reluctant as she probably had things she wanted to do that day but she knew it would be worth it in the end.
KUČKA’s Wrestling is out now via Soothsayer/LuckyMe.