Released in early January, A Collection of Jewelry Box Songs is the first record from King Luka, the solo project of Kudzu Kids’ frontwoman Krista Williamson. While her powerful voice has always been an critical component of her work with the band, her vocals with this new project prove to be equally vital in a much different way. A Collection of Jewelry Box Songs portrays a far more innocent tone, one that gives the impression of a nursery rhyme. In her work, dreamy instrumentals are paired with beautifully pained lyrics, leaving the audience with a mystifying feeling of intimacy. Lyrically, the album delves into difficult themes such as loneliness, love, and the feelings that come with growing up and leaving your youth behind. This is all done while maintaining an emotional connection with the listener that is strong yet vulnerable. Suffice it to say that A Collection of Jewelry Box Songs has served as a bold and exciting debut for King Luka, one that has served as a springboard for additional releases, including her recent EP, Fish in the Sea.
Your lyrics for both Kudzu Kids and King Luka are beautifully painful. Is it hard to be so personal and articulate when writing lyrics?
When I write a song, I always write the lyrics first. For whatever reason, I always write all my songs when I’m driving home from work at night, because driving in the dark kinda lets me space out and reminisce on things I normally never think of. I open the voice recorder on my phone and then record myself speaking whatever I feel, and then when I get home I write the song after I had the drive to think about how I want it to sound. It’s not difficult if I’m feeling inspired or creative, but if I’m trying to force myself to write a song then that’s when it becomes hard.
What is the main difference between how you approach your work with Kudzu Kids versus King Luka?
With Kudzu Kids I feel like I mainly just use songs I’ve written that seem more fun, or something that a crowd can enjoy and dance to. It’s always more entertaining to practice with Kudzu Kids because I get to play music with [drummer] Shrek [Tyler Schreck] and [bassist] Chaz [Brooks], and they always have a way to make my songwriting improve a bit. With King Luka, I use it as a project to express my emotion, even if it can be awkward or a little bit too intimate. I really enjoy experimenting with more simple and pretty sounding music, and it feels good to use something I’ve made that other people can enjoy as a creative outlet. King Luka is like my diary.
What was the motivation behind creating this album and what is the message that it’s trying to send?
I use King Luka to make music with the intention of evoking feelings people might have experienced when they were kids. I try to imitate that lonely and confused feeling you have when you’re young, and I also try to evoke the feeling of invincibility and wanting to explore everything and know all there is to know.
I suppose I made the solo album because I had been (and still am) working 40 hours a week and going to school full time, and I felt like all of my wanderlust and drive had just been drained from me. I was constantly doing homework or just burdened with stress. One week I had a day off, so I decided to make the album. I was longing to feel like I did when I was a child, and I wanted to make something that reminded me of happier times in my life.
I think the message I’m trying to send with the album is that, despite all of the remedial things we have to do in life and all the stress, deep down we are still just children, and people are all good at heart. Even though now we are corrupted, we were once pure.
Do you have any plans for furthering your King Luka work in the future?
I’m really interested in making King Luka a project of mine that is on the same level as Kudzu Kids. I’m in the process of forming a band with some newer friends of mine, and hopefully we’ll be able to create something beautiful out of King Luka.