A reinvention rather than a refutation, the name Kuinka comes from the Finnish for “how”; how does a band bristling with spirited creativity continue to evolve artistically and challenge themselves while staying true to their own roots? For Kuinka, the answer comes in the form of a release, a giving over to the muse, and a joyful acquiescence to faith in their cumulative virtuosity as songwriters regardless of genre or instrumentation.
Brothers Zach and Nathan Hamer, along with Miranda Zickler and Jillian Walker, came together in 2014 under the name Rabbit Wilde to form a unique breed of string band; one proudly defiant of preconceived notions of what fits under the label ‘Americana’. Their 2014 debut The Wild North, which propelled the band out of the woods and on to stages across the country, was followed by their 2016 breakout LP The Heartland. Both albums were recorded at the famed Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, WA (Fleet Foxes, Metric), and led to featured performances at dozens of festivals and several successful national headlining tours.
Home from touring The Heartland, the band spread to take a breath. All four found themselves in the midst of major life changes both as people and as artists; moving out of the house they‘d shared for the previous two years to new cities (the Hamers to Tacoma, Walker to Bellingham, and Zickler to Seattle) and broadening the total palette from which they draw as musicians. “Each track on Stay Up Late was written separately,” explains Zickler, “but around the same time, so the undercurrents of the songs have the same sort of pulse and connecting fibers. At our first rehearsal with a brand new synthesizer – a Micro KORG XL – they all came together in very natural and unexpected ways.” After fleshing out the tracks in rehearsal, the band headed to a studio near Portland, OR with the trusted ears of longtime producer Jerry Streeter (Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers). The quartet was joined in the studio with their touring wizard of the woodwinds John Benefiel who handled clarinet and saxophone.
The songs on Stay Up Late ring with the vibrancy of exploration and discovery. “We’ve spent our time as a band in pursuit of a unique sound that captures our energy and essence” says Zickler. “Once we came together and started work on the new singles, we knew it was time to redefine ourselves.”
“In our first year as a band, we spent many nights on the living room floor of Miranda’s closest childhood friend, who happens to be Finnish” explains Nathan Hamer. “Kuinka became an expression we used to consider and unravel the seemingly insurmountable obstacles life often throws at us. We’d love for our music to be a soudtrack to adventure. The name represents finding your way, for both us and our listeners.”