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We sat down with Tuka, a young London-born singer fresh off the release of her new EP ‘Folding’. Born to Iraqi parents with a musical background, Tuka spoke about struggling to find similar faces in the music industry and starting out as a singer whilst navigating a pandemic…
My mum used to be a singer. Not a western pop but the Muslim equivalent of gospel music, she wanted me to go down that path but I was more into Rhianna….Shakira….this was at like six years-old. So yeah I’d just watch them and be like that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be on stage and sing and make people smile and jump around, the desire to be a singer came from when I was young.
I come from a family with very strong Muslim beliefs so they’re not toooo keen on the route I’m on, even when I’m studying it. I used to study art at college and to them I needed to be someone else, ‘You need to do Architecture at least? Be a lawyer, a pharmacist, a doctor?’. They’d always try and incorporate art into a more ‘professional’ setting… I guess they had higher standards. But they’re letting me do my thing and I’m enjoying it. When I was younger I’d dream about it etcetera etcetera, and eventually that died out after I decided that it wasn’t realistic enough.
I’d watch these shows like X-Factor and I couldn’t find anyone like me, anyone I could relate to, my second names Mohammed and I felt I could never be up there. I’d keep singing but anything I’d write would just get thrown away.
It wasn’t until October 2018, when Ben Spence from Fuzzbrain just dropped me a message after I’d posted some stories of me singing and we just started recording together. I guess I started relatively recently but I feel like it’s always been part of me, in one shape or another, and now I’ve reverted back to 6 year-old Tuka!
The Ep happened very organically, experimenting with different sounds and just getting comfortable together and finding our style. Eventually Ben started talking about releasing and we chose three songs that we the happiest with, the proudest of… three babies which got mixed and mastered! But we started thinking about it in 2019 and then obviously covid happened and all of a sudden the studio was closed, we couldn’t even finish the songs. Summer came around so we could get back in there and recorded Lost Sight.
My friend Seb who spits came down and did a mad job! Literally in the first take did it perfectly 3 times to layer it and was done, bish bash bosh….but fate wasn’t finished with us yet and a few days later Fuzzbrain Studios burnt down! It was an amazing studio which Ben had built from the ground up with his dad, they’d converted part of this warehouse into a fully functioning studio full of instruments and collections and tech which just disappeared.
After the studio relocated to Ben’s parent’s house in Surrey we started to take trips down which was lovely, almost like a retreat.His parents were so accommodating, shouts out Bens Fam! So after a global pandemic, a few lockdowns and a fire we’ve done it! I’m proud of the whole gang and so grateful for everyone involved.
I’m excited to start some new stuff, I want to explore a more middle-eastern sound and work with musicians from that region. In terms of performing I’ve got a couple gigs coming up; Hoodstock on the 8th August, then obviously a session at your HQ !! Hoodstock is going to be great, a local festival full of good vibes. I think I wanna do as many gigs as I can, covids been a big obstacle be I’m hopeful for the future… the best is yet to come.