I knew right away that I’d like what Cloud Cukkoo was doing when the artist described their music as “danceable depression.” Something about it ironically filled my soul with joy and from there I connected with the now Berlin-resident about not only the above and “The Game,” but also a song penned for a friend that drops this July, “Alice.”
Kendra: Is there a particular artist, song, or album that got you hooked on making music?
Cloud Cukkoo: Growing up I listened to a lot of different artists, but because of ‘Take Me Out’ by Franz Ferdinand, ‘Torches’ by Foster The People, and ‘Beacon’ by Two Door Cinema Club, I really got into indie music. Still, I cannot seem to find other albums that take me back to high school like they did, even though I listened to many other albums at the time. I was in love with artists such as Lana Del Rey and Florence + The Machine. The way they used their voice, the way their drums sounded: it was a complete new world opening up to me.
As soon as I started writing my own songs, I was super inspired by the band Daughter. For the first time, I got into reverb and delay pedals, experimented with soundscaping with my guitar, and tried to create a dreamy world in my music. Elena Tonra (Daughter) is an amazing songwriter and performer. Her songs can switch from super fragile to this massive wonderland within seconds.
Funny story, my at-the-time boyfriend and I were both huge fans of Daughter and made our relationship official during one of their concerts. We’ve broken up, but he’s still my bitch (meaning drummer in my band). Ever since that time my style has really changed and developed, but in some ways, it still has some of the elements I once fell in love with during high school: the dynamics in the songs, catchy melodies, always seeking for new sounds and combining wanting to dance and cry at the same time.
Kendra: Right now you’re in Berlin, but you’re not from there – right? Did you relocate for musical reasons?
Cloud Cukkoo: Yes! I’m planning on staying at least half a year. My biggest reason to move was to write, produce and release new music over here. Berlin is more international, but also a beautifully raw city, with lots of creative people from all over the world, beautiful parks, nice places to hang out and so much history.
I felt like changing my environment would really contribute to myself as an artist (and growth as a person, obviously), but I was also looking for new producers and songwriters to connect with. And so far it worked! I’ve already met so many amazing people and I’ve written new music in which I feel like moving to Berlin has already contributed.
Moving, missing your loved ones, and surviving in a new, huge city (I’m from a super small village in the countryside of The Netherlands) – enough topics to write about. Plus, I can officially say that one of my new songs is co-written by Buns & Tootie, two super cute dogs that Matias (a producer from Sweden I’m working with) always brings during our writing sessions.
Kendra: You’ve noted that your music is “danceable depression” and for us dreamers who have an issue falling asleep. Which I can 100% relate to on so many levels. With that said, do you think that those of us failing to sleep are just creative night owls in a way?
Cloud Cukkoo: Yes, definitely. Sometimes it’s nice to be creative and have so many ideas, but it can also be hard. A lot of times I feel like my mind is racing and my body needs to keep up with it all the time. I think a lot of creative people are overthinkers and vice-versa. I’ve been trying to embrace that being sensitive and tending to overthink a lot are just extra gifts that come with creativity. If I wouldn’t think about everything so much, I wouldn’t be able to write the songs I write. And isn’t that also what art is about?
Kendra: Right now fans can hear what you’ve got going on with “The Game,” a song that again…is me. It captures the pain of feeling left out which I think is magnified today with social media. Do you feel that’s where a lot of those feelings for you arise as well?
Cloud Cukkoo: “The Game” is actually a song I wrote about a woman who’s craving for danger and sensation in her life, who makes the wrong decision and spends the night with an (in her eyes) intriguing man. But obviously, everyone can interpret the lyrics in their own way.
Feeling left out is indeed a theme I write and sing about often. For me, it doesn’t really come from social media, even though I’d really understand it when people do feel that way. I’ve been bullied a lot as a child, so I’ve been noticing that that is something that still resonates with me nowadays and that is what I write about: feeling rejected, feeling like you’re not good enough, or still being that misfit.
When you’ve experienced people locking you out and bullying you, it makes sense that years later, you can still doubt yourself or feel like you’re not good enough. But! Writing about this topic has definitely made me realize that the problem wasn’t so much with me, but with the bullies. And yes, I’m probably still that misfit, but I’m proud of that now.
Kendra: You’ve got another new song out this July called, “Alice.” You wrote this one for a friend that touches on the homophobia of society and the struggles that come with being part of the LGBTQ+ community. I can only imagine what an emotional toll that song took on you to write. Where was your head at when you started working on “Alice?”
Cloud Cukkoo: One of my dear friends asked me to write a song about ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ since he’d been obsessed with the story ever since he was a little kid. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (as we all know it) is supposed to be a dreamy and magical place, where one can forget about their worries, but in this song, it’s used as a metaphor for society – where things aren’t always easy.
The boy in my story is expecting “trees of glitter, streets of gold” while finding his way through life, but falls down the rabbit hole and ends up in a homophobic place. ‘Alice’ in this case represents a way out – meaning believing in yourself, owning who you are, and trusting your heart. Of course, it’s rough to write a song like that, but it’s also reality. A lot of rough shit still happens every day, for literally no reason. I feel like I resonate so much with this topic because I’ve also been a victim of not being accepted by other people and for me, it felt like the ‘outcome’ was trusting my own vision and not changing myself for anyone else.
Kendra: Also, with Coachella still fresh on my mind and all these artists from today bringing out the likes of Shania Twain and Hayley Williams, I’d love to know what artist you’ve drawn inspiration from would you love to connect with if you had the chance to at a festival like that?
Cloud Cukkoo: Well, I think Coachella is already a goal itself, haha! But singing with the iconic Stevie Nicks would be a dream. I’d also love to write or play a song with Phoebe Bridgers, sing a song with Matt Berninger of The National, or shake my ass off with Lizzo!
Kendra: Lastly, with “Alice” on the way this July – anything else you can share with us, perhaps tour plans?
Cloud Cukkoo: Since I’ve just moved, I’m focusing on writing and releasing for now. So there’s a lot of new music coming this year. I’m also working with directors and filmmakers over here in Berlin, so I’m really curious about the coming music videos. I’m hoping the people reading this are curious enough now to listen to the new music I’m releasing and might follow me on social media or subscribe to my newsletter.