Wuki. Courtesy of Courtney Roxanne.
Genre-defying producer Wuki is best-known for fusing Detroit ghettotech, Chicago footwork, electro, house, club bangers and more in his distinct sound. Today, March 12, the artist showcases his signature style on his debut album, WukiWorld.
The 10-track body of work, released via HARD Recs, proves to be sonically diverse as it boasts everything from hard-hitting bass to trap breakdowns, surreal beats, emotional vocals with melodic bass, hip hop music, festival bangers and more. The LP also features a star-studded list of collaborations, including Diplo, Shaq, Juvenile, Yung Baby Tate and Smokepurpp.
The debut album is an impressive next step in Wuki’s already noteworthy career. The producer earned a Grammy-nomination for his remix of Miley Cyrus’ hit “Mother’s Daughter,” his single “Better” with Valentino Khan and featuring Roxanne was a top trend on TikTok in 2020 and his record “Throw It” was part of the Netflix film “Work It.” In addition, Wuki has managed to stay connected to his fanbase throughout the pandemic with his Twitch channel, where he hosts producer feedback sessions, live performances and more.
Here, Wuki took the time to share with Forbes the inspiration behind WukiWorld, what it was like to be nominated for a Grammy, advice he would give his younger self and more.
Lisa Kocay: Can you describe your sound in three words?
Wuki: “This is always hard for me but: amusing, eccentric [and] raunchy.”
Kocay: Your debut album, WukiWorld is being released via HARD Recs. What was the inspiration behind the album?
Wuki: “For my whole career, my sound has always been very ubiquitous. As a multi-genre producer, I’ve had to face challenges in the industry because a lot of people haven’t really known where to put me or how to categorize me. I wanted to make a statement with this album, where I could showcase a bunch of different sounds and genres that all work together and live within the world of Wuki. I really felt this album had a carnival-like vibe that is chaotic, fun, bouncy and just overall shows my personality.”
Kocay: Can you share any stories on how some of the tracks were created?
Wuki: “One of my favorite tracks on the album is a song called ‘Tell The World About Me.’ It’s a ballad about my mother who passed away from cancer seven years ago. I usually don’t write songs about other people, but this felt right for the album. One of the reasons I continue to pursue music is because my mom was always so supportive of me. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”
Kocay: During quarantine, you’ve been connecting with your global fanbase via your Twitch channel, where you host producer feedback sessions, live performances and more. Can you talk about the inspiration behind starting this?
Wuki: “I think most musicians and DJs right now (myself included) have to find a way to adapt to the current climate. It’s such a great way to connect with fans that when shows come back, I don’t think I will stop. I truly love connecting with my fans online, and it actually keeps me productive and on a schedule. One of my favorite segments is WukiLeaks Wednesdays, where I check out demos and tracks from up and coming producers. I use the tracks that fans submit to me for my SiriusXM show, and they absolutely love it. I’m finding out so many great tips from these kids and they’ve made me realize how many good producers are out there. I also love seeing people literally take what I say, use it and then apply it to their productions. Just seeing them become better producers is really satisfying for me, and I’m so proud to be a part of the process.”
Wuki says on the inspiration behind “Love 2.0”: “This is the opener for my album, and I wanted to … [+]
Kocay: You were recently nominated for a Grammy in January 2019 for your remix of the Miley Cyrus’ hit track “Mother’s Daughter.” That must have been so exciting. What were you doing when you found out, and what was the experience of being nominated like?
Wuki: “I was actually asleep when I found out. I tend to stay up really late and sleep late, so my girlfriend woke me up with the news. It was a pretty surreal experience and validates all the hard work I have put in over the years. I couldn’t even go back to sleep after [because] we were both really excited. I’m really grateful that I was nominated and was able to enjoy the awards show in person before the pandemic really hit.”
Kocay: How did you initially get into making music, and how does that shape the music you make today?
Wuki: “I started playing guitar when I was 11-years-old because my brother played. I always wanted to mimic what he was doing, and we would play and write songs together. The guitar was one of the only things that really stuck with me as a child. My family was so supportive of my music that it really encouraged me to pursue it further. I continued to play in hardcore bands and emo bands throughout my high school experience. When I went off to college, I really missed playing in bands, so my friend Patrick told me about a band he was starting and asked me if I wanted to be in it. I basically dropped everything and moved back home because I didn’t like school anyway, so I told myself I would give it a shot. I got a job as a waiter, started playing a bunch of music and eventually joined a band called Innerpartsystem. After the band broke up a few years later, I really wanted to do something completely opposite music-wise that wasn’t so serious—something silly and weird just like me, and that led me to finding electronic music.”
Kocay: Do you remember the first dance music song you heard that made you fall in love with the genre?
Wuki: “Yes: It was definitely ‘Daft Punk – ‘Digital Love.’ I remember being so intrigued by the synth/guitar solo and wondering how they made those sounds.”
Kocay: If you could go back in time to when you first started making music and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Wuki: “You drive your own ship. No manager, agent, label or show is going to bring you to another level. It’s really all about what you create on your end, your vision and being as laser focused as you can. The team around you matters but ultimately, the world you create is up to you and the hard work you put in.”
Kocay: What are your plans for the future?
Wuki: “I’m going to continue to make exactly what I want, whenever I want. Don’t be surprised if you hear a rap EP, pop EP or a meme-inspired TikTok EP from me in the future. The Wuki sound is always evolving, but it’s always exactly what I want to do.”
Lisa Kocay is a journalist interested in music, food, wine, spirits, travel and architecture, and she covers those interests for ForbesLife. Full-time, she works as a