Meet Experimental Electro Producer Cuckoo

Meet Experimental Electro Producer Cuckoo

The Electricianz is heavily invested in creating an online community of like-minded individuals to share, promote and create expressions of #ElectricArt.  We have the ambition of creating a real artistic community around our original, elegant and fierce watches. Today we have a new member joining the creative family, from Norway: meet independent electronic artist Cuckoo! 

Very famous on YouTube and in the electronic music world (and for his amazing tutorials), Cuckoo is now starting to create more music and play live shows for the general public. We love it, and wanted to share!

His ultra creative approach and incredible personality meant we had to do something together: we started by sending him The Mokaz... stay tuned, and for now get to know him a bit more with this interview! 

ELZ: Hey Cuckoo, so glad to have you here with us today! We have been fans of your work for a long time now, can you introduce what you do - for those who don't know you yet?

Cuckoo: I play synth on youtube now. It was when I first started to work on an actual collection of what would best be described as “synth songs” around 2006, that I started to call myself Cuckoo. People always spell my surname wrong, so I started trying out other names to represent what I do. (Turns out people spell Cuckoo wrong all the time too, haha.) I have a strong memory from my summers on Crete island, where I was visiting my dad. We often ended the long summer nights by closing the restaurant, and taking a walk with dad along the beach street saying hi to all of his friends in the restaurant business. The late nights often ended up at Cuckoo bar, which was a stark contrast to all of the touristy places that were playing early EDM. Cuckoo bar instead played soulful, heartwarming, lovely and touching music. My Cuckoo name is a tribute to Giannis who ran that place.

cuckoo playing in the studio with The Electricianz Mokaz

ELZ: How would you define what you do ?

It’s always about the art, the music, the connections, the expression. It has always been like that. As a kid, everything was a tool for expression. Even playing videogames were to some extent an expression. The art of playing. I’m feeling a lot of people enjoy my music side of what I do… but where people express the most gratitude is when they get help to overcome difficulties. I make a lot of tutorials on some difficult music gear, like samplers, drum machines, synthesisers… I take my time with the gear, sit down with the people watching, and help them get an overview and understanding of the instrument, to the point where they feel comfortable exploring on their own. If I get recognised at an event, people often come up to me to thank me. That is such a beautiful thing to do. To thank one another.

ELZ: Was that clear form the start or did it emerge ?

I’ve been working as an animator, illustrator and a visual artist for most of my grown up life. Although music has had a bigger impact on me. Everything is music. Probably the biggest catalyst of starting seriously to create music again, was after playing in the artist Jenny Hval’s band for a few years. I knew I had to do this more. But it emerged over time. Especially what I do on YouTube. Actually I was gonna say good bye to music, and to YouTube, and I made a song called “Good Bye”, where people left so much lovely feedback that it instead became a starting point for me.

Cuckoo in his studio in Oslo

ELZ: Where are you headed, what are your upcoming projects or ambitions ?

The focus that I have had on creating helpful videos about synthesisers, has unfortunately pulled me little by little away from making music. So in the near future I want to focus more on creating music again. Especially for performing live (see latest performance at Moogfest - spot The Mokaz!). I have a super compact setup that I would love to travel the world with! Performing for an audience, connecting and sharing the same room with people is something that I’m looking forward too. It can be a little bit lonely on YouTube. It’s mostly just me and a camera in my room. It’s important to connect. 

Cuckoo Live Performance

ELZ: What are you trying to transmit to your listeners and audience ?

Out of the comments that I am most happy about, are the ones that express that they get help to stay on the positive side of life by watching my videos. It is something that I haven’t specifically thought about when making the videos… I’m running this thing that I call Jamuary, #jamuary2019, where I encourage people to jam out a little musical piece, and post it to the world, mostly on Instagram, every day of January. And the overwhelming response that I’ve got there is so touching. Especially through Jamuary I’ve heard so much back from people telling me how much it means to them, and that they’ve used it as a platform to overcome the fear of showing their music in public, and how much rewarding it has been once they’ve put out music, and people comment and connect. This, is such a gift… It’s much bigger than me.

Cuckoo in the studio

ELZ: Here's a broader question, wait for it... What's the essence of life? We're orbiting on a planet in the vast space, what is it all about and how to spend our time on earth?

Life is bigger than me, and it’s bigger than Earth. I feel. I think. I create. That I must continue with. Every day. It’s my calling.

ELZ: When you're 110yo, how will you remember what you've been doing the past few months ?

Looking back, I already feel like I’m 110 years old sometimes. I often wish I had been more focused. These past three years I will be proud of because I quit my animation work, and went all in with music and YouTube.

ELZ: Where does inspiration comes from for you?

I think being an artist means that you have a backpack full of recorded emotions, that you’re carrying around at all times, within an arm’s reach. It could be a burden, but it’s also where most of my creations stem from. As a kid I always wanted to create similar things that I had just experienced. Whether it was a video game, a cartoon, a comic album, a book. Everything inspired me. Now, a lot of things still inspire me like that, but I probably turn to the inside to find inspiration, rather than the outside.

ELZ: What artists/philosophers/writers/filmmakers... made you who you are? Any masterpieces you’d recommend?

Throughout my life, I’ve had periods of intense influence, for sure. As a teenager I was influenced by video games with awesome FM synth soundtracks, as well as Mozart’s classical music. I was listening to countless of Mozart’s work. Especially his string quartets. That American film called Amadeus… it really got to me. I totally connected with the character portrayed in that film. I even went to Mozart’s home museum in Saltzburg, and laid my hands on his piano, and set off the alarm. Mozart played a big part of my perception of what an artist truly is, in my early years.

In more recent years the vibrant contemporary jazz scene here in Norway, where I live, has been influencing me more than I realise. Highly skilled musicians, performing creatively together, some reaching really deep into creative music, while still in such unison, with a much higher understanding of music than what I have… It’s so inspiring. I love it. An acquaintance of mine once told me that his best friend that had just passed away had taught him to be fearless. That inspired me.

Cuckoo on the Piano with The Mokaz

ELZ: What’s the perfect "mood/space/time/environment/cocktail" for you to be creating with pure pleasure?

I’m often having a hard time dealing with interruptions, so those days when I can work late, I can keep working until I’m getting done with something. I love that, but it’s a luxury when you have a family with kids.

ELZ: You told us once this watch is a time travel device, if you had a time travel device, what would you say to yourself if you came back from the future?

Time is probably the most relative there is. The time the universe has existed. The time that I have lived. The time it takes for my mind to zoom back onto when I was climbing that big pear tree in my childhood. Dreams are probably as close as we get to a real time space dimension travel. Coming back from a dream, and telling your partner about it is most of the time just moderately interesting. Because it’s not about what happened… it’s about how it really felt. Saying it was a very touching dream isn’t enough. So, I would’ve picked up one of those emo-share tiaras that are going to be very popular in the 2280’s, and shared my emotional experiences.

Cuckoo Opening The Mokaz (Unboxing)

ELZ: What do you like about the brand

In these days, what I need is focus. There are so many things to pay attention to. Things that will drive your focus away. As a family man I must stay focused with the time that I have, and I’m struggling with myself every day to keep that focus. When I first saw your watches, and your design, I could tell that there’s a particular devotion that has gone into all of your products. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I was immediately drawn to your watches. There’s an elegance and focus about them.

Cuckoo unboxing the Mokaz

ELZ: ... and about the watch ?

Every day is like a slow time travelling machine. The Mokaz watch is my monitor of time. It’s vibing with my skin tone, my clothes, my eyes… It’s an art piece, and a time piece. It’s playful, yet calm. It’s not announcing its presence too much, it’s not giving away too much. I like it.

I remember getting rid of my last watch when I got my first cell phone. The cell phone has been my watch ever since. But as cell phones turned into smartphones, and they go more and more powerful, it becomes increasingly important to take a break from it. This watch came to my attention in the middle of my process of scaling down digital notifications, and getting more control over my focus again. It’s a little bit like a beautiful tattoo. Some pieces of artwork you’re prepared to live with. This watch is a bit like that.

Cuckoo with The Mokaz

ELZ: The design team from The Electricianz was wondering... What would the MadeWithCuckoo watch model be like?

I’m super interested in arts and design. A MadeWithCuckoo watch model would definitely have a stop watch functionality. Perhaps measuring in 24th’s or 25th’s per second precision, rather than 100th’s per seconds precision. Having worked for so long with animation, I’ve been living so close to macro timing movements that I perhaps wouldn’t really need it anymore, but many professional animators and story tellers still use stop watches to plan out their stories and movements. If I ever get into visual story telling again, I would’ve loved a subtle way of measuring time in movie frames. Planning out shot by shot, most of the time measures would probably be between a half, to four seconds long.

ELZ: Thanks so much Cuckoo, let's play now!

PS: You can support Cuckoo's work by supporting him on Patreon!

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