Kuyokuyo Q&A

Kuyokuyo is the alias of Southport-based artist producer, Holly Jenkinson - who caught our eye with her brilliant debut EP, SIGNAL_EXIST. We’ve invited Kuyokuyo to play for us at Emotion Wave on Saturday 9th February — in advance of her debut performance, here’s a little more background on a talented new electronic producer.


Hello Holly! Can you provide us with a potted history please — where did your interest in music begin?

I started writing music when I was about 10 or so. I used to compose in Sibelius and export the MIDI data as an mp3. I fancied myself as a serious composer back in the day — I’m sure my various sonatas and concertos still exist somewhere. In fact, I recently dredged up a piece I wrote for the local brass band when I was in high school. It’s bloody awful.

Weirdly enough, it wasn’t until about 2017 that I really got into electronica. I studied music production at university with the intention of either recording rock bands or composing for film. There were a couple of remix based assignments which were my first forays into electronic music, and around the same time I started going to the Golden Cabinet in Shipley where I saw a lot of weird avant-garde electronica. By the end of my last year, I had completed my 30 minute dissertation/album SIGNAL_EXIST.

SIGNAL_Exist feels really accomplished for a debut, is Kuyokuyo your first musical project?

It’s the first project I’ve had the confidence to release properly.

There’s about 80% of a stoner rock album that’s been sitting on my desktop for about 2 years. I was a bit like a second rate Tame Impala, recording everything myself in my uni flat. I never finished it because I wasn’t happy using MIDI drums and I was way too antisocial to get a drummer on board. Which is kind of what led me to making electronica — I could do it entirely on my own and it wouldn’t sound any worse for it.

https://kuyokuyo.bandcamp.com/album/signal-exist

What sort of music/other influences or inspires you to make music?

Jean Michel Jarre, Andy Stott, Lemon Demon, Vektroid, Orbital, Steve Reich, HOME, among others.

Can you walk us through your creative process, what sort of gear do you use?

My creative process usually begins with hearing a track and thinking: “Damn, I wish I thought of that.” Then I pick it apart and figure out why it works, and I try to create the same effect without tipping off the lawyers. From that core idea, I add more to it until it branches off into something unrecognisable.

In terms of gear, I use my little Korg Monotribe for everything. It’s an absolute workhorse. Once I start layering it, pitch shifting, and adding effects in DAW, I can get it to make pretty much any sound I want. And sometimes it makes sounds you didn’t want it to, but are nice anyway.

For percussion, I have a go-to folder full of 909 samples as my starting point. I compliment this with my own recordings, which mostly consist of me accidentally knocking over a mic stand and thinking it would make a serviceable snare sound.

What do you have in mind for your Emotion Wave debut?

I’ve been working on some tracks with vocals specifically for the Emotion Wave set. I think there’s a limit to what I can express in music without words, which is why I’ve gone down the lyrical route. It’s quite different from what I’ve done previously. It’s a bit like a crossover between Courtney Barnett, Laurie Anderson, and Death Grips. Definitely weird but I think it sounds cool.

Producing songs with live performance in mind is a bit alien to me, as I’ve always imagined my music as something you’d listen to at home on the sofa. Instead of producing everything in DAW, I’m using an Elektron Digitakt sequencer/sampler alongside my trusty Monotribe and a couple of effects pedals, as well as doing live vocals.

Any plans for the future, musical or otherwise?

I’d like to make another long form piece like SIGNAL_EXIST. Possibly something with a surreal narrative structure, like some of Frank Zappa’s albums. I’ve also still got audio files of poetry from Shamanka Phoenix which I’d like to do something with, as I’ve always liked music with spoken words.