No one could have ever predicted a year where we’d be so starved of interaction and stimulation that our mouths would salivate at even the sight of a plane leaving a white streak across the sky. While all we can do for now is fantasise about leaving our grey island for warmer climes, one act is evoking the sensation of the warmth of sun on our skin and better times in the realest way possible.
Introducing KUU, the enigmatic trio – comprised of Grammy Award-winning producers Riton and Alex Metric, as well as KUU vocalist, dancer and activist, Shungudzo – with their irresistible fusion of Balearic house.
After a hazy weekend at legendary Ibiza institution Pikes, KUU was formed two years ago, channeling the notorious 80s Balearic Beat scene – and their music ripples with the optimism and hedonism of this era.
Their intuition for crafting hits came to a head with their club-ready remix of Dua Lipa’s global behemoth “Levitating” ft DaBaby – a rework that has garnered a staggering 2 million Spotify streams since its inception.
And now, they have enlisted the talents of London’s most exciting new producers TSHA, who have dropped a rollicking acid-tinged version of their 2020 hit “We’ll Always Have This Dance”. Get us onto a packed, sweaty dancefloor right now. TSHA was lauded as BBC Radio 1’s ‘Future Artist’ for January, while the mover and shaker aired her debut BBC Essential Mix last weekend. Keep a close watch, it’s set to be a big year.
We caught up with KUU and talked their euphoric fusion of Balearic house, collaborating with Dua Lipa, and their sun-drenched remix of their hit “We’ll Always Have This Dance”…
Shungudzo, Alex Metric and Riton – how have you been during this uncertain time?
KUU: We’re doing okay through it all — locked down in our respective cities (London and Los Angeles) and trying to keep positive.
How has it impacted your music and creativity?
KUU: Like everyone, we’ve had ups and downs. There have definitely been moments in which the atmosphere of the world and all of the craziness has gotten in the way of being creative. But on the whole we’ve managed to navigate it and feel lucky to be able to make music to escape from it all — and to aid other people in their escapes.
How did you guys meet? And what did you set out to accomplish with KUU?
KUU: We met through the speed dating-esque world of writing sessions — musicians being blindly set up in hopes that either a long-term creative relationship or one really great song will come out of it. We worked together once and never looked back!
As for what we set out to accomplish, it’s simply making records we love and that mean something to us. We hope that the meaning we put into our songs translates into our songs meaning something to other people.
Why the name KUU?
KUU: It’s one of the original clubs in Ibiza, and it’s an acronym for something. It means all of these things and none of them. It just fits and feels right.
How would you describe your genre?
Alex Metric, Riton: It’s dance music, it’s pop music, it’s a bit acid house, it’s a bit balearic, it’s nostalgic, it’s emotional, it’s just us really! Hopefully we stand on our own sounding like no one else right now.
Shungudzo: It’s a combination of all three of our personalities, which, well, when you combine three weird personalities, the result is also quite weird. But weird is good! I used to tell my little brother that the best response to being called “weird” is always, “Thank you.”
Congratulations on the TSHA remix of “We’ll Always Have This Dance” – it’s such good vibes and dance floor ready! What do you hope it brings in such dark and un-certain times?
Alex Metric, Riton: We’re stoked we got TSHA onboard, as we’ve been fans of hers for a while now. She did a great job keeping the original vibe but bringing it more to the club. We’re looking forward to a time when we can hear it fucking loud, outdoors, surrounded by other people!
It follows your viral remix of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” – what inspired you to do your own take of this track, and did you expect it would blow up this much?
Alex Metric: Dua’s label asked us to do the remix, and we jumped at the chance to take Dua into KUU world. We have it but of history working with her so it was nice to combine forces again. We had a loads of fun remixing “Levitating,” and are very pleased that people seem to dig it. There were a few remixes of that track so it’s great it’s found a place and people like it.
What is the first thing you’re going to do when we get some normality?
Alex Metric: I’ve been dreaming of going back to Tokyo a lot during this. I think that will be top of my list.
Shungudzo: I’ve been dreaming of being anywhere but home. I’ve been dreaming of looking out of different windows, at different landscapes. I’ve also been dreaming of making plans — any plans. Knowing me, I’ll probably just cancel them because it’s not doing things I miss so much as having the freedom to do them.
What’s the most unusual place you pull inspiration from?
Alex Metric: There is a book called The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band That Burned a Million Pounds. The name is slightly misleading as its about so much more than just the band. It delves into creativity and where ideas come from. I’ve read it three times now and it always leaves me feeling super inspired and feeling like anything is possible. I really feel like it has magic powers of its own.
Shungudzo: I try to translate the way trees move in the wind into messages of hope and inspiration. Sometimes they just scold me, but I’m grateful for that too. It’s like Mother Nature literally mothering me.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
Alex Metric, Riton: An emotional response in whatever form that is. Whether that’s from the lyrics touching you, a chord change making you feel something or simply making you want to dance. As long as there is that connection then we are doing something right.
Shungudzo: I hope our music makes people feel hopeful and comfortable enough in their own skin, in their own company, to dance as freely as humanly possible.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
KUU: We’re looking forward to getting more KUU music out there, and who knows, maybe hearing them being played at clubs and festivals this year.