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Interview: Wuki Talks HARD Summer, Viral Bootlegs and His Newest Release

Kris Barman has been making music professionally for almost two decades, but since starting his solo project as Wuki in 2012, he has truly received his flowers.

His 2020 remix of Miley Cyrus’Mother’s Daughter” earned him a Grammy-nomination, and the remix madness hasn’t stopped. In a fast-paced digital landscape that he says is not far from dance music’s bootleg roots, Wuki’s sound is a perfect fit.

Fresh off of a big summer in which he played Red Rocks, Sunset, Shambhala, HARD Summer and more, Barman joined us from his home studio during a well-deserved break from touring to talk HARD’s LA homecoming, his viral edits, and his newest release.

EDM Maniac: It’s been a busy summer for you. What was it like to play a packed set in a city that you largely consider a second home, on such a momentous occasion as HARD returning to LA?

Wuki: It was such a cool experience to be at the Coliseum and see them bring it back there. It felt like a celebration in a weird way.

I think maybe because there were just so many of my friends there. So many LA friends and industry friends. It just felt like a huge hang.

EDM Maniac: As many people know, your live shows are always a party, but you’ve really connected with fans off the stage as well—sharing bootlegs and edits on Instagram and TikTok with your “Beats I Can’t Release” series. How has this engagement impacted you?

Wuki: I think I’ve benefited from it. It was kind of a random thing I stumbled into when the pandemic hit. I was always known for bootlegs and stuff.

And I remember at the time, TikTok was just started buzzing. So I was like, “Well maybe I’ll just post them on here; see what happens.”

It’s pretty awesome. I’ve gotten to build a little community that loves my edits. It’s helped me build more of a core fan base, which has been really helpful. 

I think it’s also helped me find my sound even more, in a weird way. I still make a bunch of crazy edits and I play a lot of faster stuff in my sets, but as far as releases, it’s pretty much just straight house music now.


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EDM Maniac: You’ve been making music professionally for a long time now. In what ways does this new digital landscape compare to earlier days in the industry?

Wuki: Back when I was in my band, Innerpartysystem, you could blow up overnight with MySpace. That’s actually how we got signed. And I think there are some similarities now with TikTok and reels, and being able to go viral within a couple of days. 

We’re seeing a lot of artists pop off because of it. It’s a tool that everyone should use because you could get tons of followers and fans from it.

I think it’s important to stay up to date on these things. It all affects the music industry. But at the end of the day, you still want to just focus on making music. That’s the most important thing.

EDM Maniac: One of these songs that first featured on your page as a “Beats I Can’t Release” video is your new single “Sunshine (My Girl),” a beautifully upbeat edit of “My Girl” by The Temptations. What was it about that iconic vocal that struck a chord with you?

Wuki: I think I’m always trying to do something different than everybody else. For the past couple of years, the trend has been to take R&B or rap vocals. And I was just like, “Well, why stop there? Why not go back in time?”

I was on a ’70s kick, ’60s kick, looking through old playlists, and that song came up. And I was like, “Oh man, no one’s ever flipped this. No one would think to flip this.” 

It was right in house tempo. It’s not swung. And then I just did my thing. When I remix stuff I try not to do too much—let the song breathe on its own. I’m really stoked that it’s finally getting out there. FISHER has been playing it, which is, to me, such a dope stamp of approval.

EDM Maniac: This isn’t the first time you’ve taken a classic and put it into party mode. What is it about sampling in this manner that is so fun for you?

Wuki: I mean, it’s kind of like a hack, right? You might be introducing new people to the song who don’t know it, or you might already be getting people who are fans of the original song.

And also, I’m just a huge fan. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 11 years old. A lot of that music influences me anyway. Dance music started out sampling —like Daft Punk is all sample-based. So to me, it stays true to what dance music is about.

EDM Maniac: Also on the docket is your aptly named, Sunshine Tour. What are the shows going to be like? What can we expect from your performances?

Wuki: Oh, man, great vibes. I think there are four or five headline dates. So it’s mostly a festival run to close out the end of the year.

I’m just excited to just get back out there. I just had like three weekends off, which was really nice. I’ve been chilling, working on my set. I have a bunch of new edits to play. 

I’m going to Hawaii, which I’m excited about. Lots of sunshine, lots of vibes. And then I’m also doing a Christmas show in LA. We’re going to call it Wukmas.

EDM Maniac: What else can you tell us about this show?

Wuki: I do tons of Christmas edits or holiday edits. So I’m excited to do a theme, just make it really fun. We’re gonna do something crazy. I’m not really sure what yet, but it’ll be funny.

All images courtesy of Wuki. Image 2 Credit: Terry Beeman.

Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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