London-based Koukie is a recording solo artist with a band. The singer composer and poet is delighted to announce the release of her debut solo album, Songs From An Empty Stage. Fusing rock opera with gypsy, punk and cabaret into a fireball of sound, hers is music for a new generation. Koukie dazzles audiences everywhere she goes with style and charisma. ‘If Queen and Shirley Bassey were to have a child, Koukie would be the one blasting off your ears,’’ says Porchlight Studios producer Niall Woods.
Koukie graduated from London College of Music in 2011, with a Bmus Popular Music Performance. That year, she was chosen by the heads of London College of Music to be the pop icon in the LCM Summer Showcase, beating off competition from over 3000 other students across the capital, to perform her signature Koukie’s Song.
Koukie has since appeared live at London venues, including a sellout headline show at The Garage in Islington. She’s been a special guest at an Ealing Youth Orchestra concert, and recently held a performance with LCM Sinfonia at St Barnabas Church, presenting songs from the album with a 100 piece orchestra and a rock band.
Koukie has spent the last 2 years writing, arranging and recording her new album. The album was produced by Niall Woods of Porchlight Studios in Dublin and London. It features contributions from many top musicians, including One Direction’s bass player Sandy Beales.
Martin Riley, arranger of the Performance of The Music of Deep Purple by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, has arranged the orchestral versions of songs included on the album.
Why did you select this song as your current single?
Because it sums up as well as one can the essence of my music. It is one of the strongest songs on the album I believe, and you can find operatic rock with glimpses of cabaret and punk in it. Within 3 minutes you are taken through a whole range of genres in a way you would never imagine but it is all woven together and produced making complete sense. I thought this single would be a good representative of Koukie because that is what happens with every track and the album as a whole.
How does this single relate to the rest of the Album, EP or Mix-tape?
It showcases clearly the way I like my music to be. In songwriting as well as my personal life, I don’t like to stick around in one place for too long. I get bored. So it reflects in my music. Every song consists of many different sections with very little or none repetition. And even if a certain section is being repeated, it always returns in a slightly different format. Therefore it is really hard to draw a typical pop song structure to it. There are verses and choruses if you’d like to call them that way, but they all might have a different melody or chord structure. So ‘’Stop You With Love’’ is no different. It probably has the most repetition of all of the songs in the album, but otherwise it travels through genres, styles, emotions and shades of music with the speed of light, leaving a trail of story behind to hold on to.
What was the writing process for the song?
‘’Stop You With Love’’ was written at the very early stages of creating the album, so it is one of the first songs written. It was at a time when I had taken a deeper interest in jazz music, hence the scatting at the end of it. Writing the music was quite easy if I can recall it correctly. It happened over night in complete darkness with my eyes closed. That is how I preferred to compose music at that time. One thing I remember very clearly is, I felt like I was ready to compose a new song, the lyrics had already been written a few days ago, so I sat down at the piano, closed my eyes and put my hands on the keys randomly, without any thinking. The very first chord that came out ended up being the first chord of the song. Well, the first chord of the first verse, to be precise. I wrote the intro for it afterwards. The rest of the song seemed to just pour out of me seamlessly after that.
What does this song’s lyric mean to you?
The inspiration lyrically for it came from a particular situation where I had to struggle with a person in a superior position than I was for ‘’a place under the sun’’, if you can call it that way. They really didn’t like me and tried to create many different obstacles for me to fall on so that I wouldn’t succeed. At first I was slightly intimidated by them, then I got angry but then I realized that there is no point of harvesting any of those feelings. To win in this struggle I had to stop them, but with love, meaning I wouldn’t fight back with the same destructive tools they were using. It meant taking myself out of the equation and taking the high road. If I didn’t participate and dropped my fear, they had no more power left over me. It is obviously easier said than done, and less possible at times. But in this particular situation it worked like a charm. So I had to write a song about it!
What would it be like to see you in person performing this song?
It would be very interesting. I don’t want to give away too much and it also feels a bit weird to tell someone how great it would be to see me perform live. But from what I’ve heard and gathered, it is quite unusual. I guess it is because of my desire to use my hands as tools to ‘’paint’’ the music and project whatever is being played through my fingertips. I am a fan of expressive gestures and storytelling. And for that I need my both hands, face, eyes and body. It will never be the same, simply because there are so many exciting things happening in the arrangement that every time I perform it, I will be able to focus on only a couple of them. Which also keeps it very interesting for me. So I guess the answer to this question would be – to see me perform this song live would help you dot the I’s and cross the T’s in regarding to what it all means. A full circle as one might say.
Could your fans summarize who you are as an artist by this song?
Yes and no. Like I mentioned above, this song is one of the strongest representatives of my music and definitely my debut album ‘’Songs From An Empty Stage’’. There are a lot of clues that give away what I’m like if you know what to look for. But I guess one of the major characteristics of me as an artist is change. So if there is one things you can be certain, it is that I will change a lot and my music will change a lot. How or when is irrelevant. But equally I can’t promise I will change again because I really don’t like to commit to something permanently and give away the freedom of ‘’anything could happen’’. So if that is what this song summarizes and leaves an impression with then my fans have definitely got the right idea about me!
Is there a video planned and or completed and if so, what was the idea behind the video?
There isn’t a video just yet although I have a very unusual idea for it. And because it is unusual, I haven’t had the opportunity nor the resources to achieve it. And I don’t want to make another video that is no different from everything else that’s out there just for the sake of it. I would heavily contradict myself that way, wouldn’t I. So I will have to hold out for it a bit longer and hope that the right opportunities will come along to accomplish my vision. Meanwhile, I am about to release a live performance video of ‘’Stop You With Love’’ with a 100-piece orchestra and a rock band as a consolation prize.
One last question, what is your motivation behind your music?
Very easy. My well being. I know a lot of people say they can’t live without music, or that they’ll die if they stop doing it. I can live without it, and I don’t die on a daily basis when I’m not performing or writing. But I just don’t want to live without my music. I have come to realize that no matter what happens I will never be truly satisfied and completely happy, if I don’t put my eyelashes on and become Koukie every once in a while. So I don’t really have a motivation behind my music. I just don’t have a choice. If I want to ever smile again.