What was formerly known as a three-piece band, Kullers, has more recently become a solo venture for Jordan Kullers. I caught up with Jordan following the release of his debut album as the solo frontman, where we discussed his new musical identity and how he got here, its fresh sound, and the future of Kullers.
Obviously you kept the Kullers name. How do you plan identifying yourself as the solo artist of Kullers rather than keeping within the association Kullers the band?
When Kullers was the band, I was always the driving force behind the band. I feel like the transition was not very rocky because of that. The first album was very rock-driven, and the new album is much more pop influenced, and funk influenced. Where I’m coming from right now is a weird range of R&B and hip-hop and pop with this little indie twinge to it. It’s really interesting. But in terms of branding and everything, it’s so much easier for me. It’s so hard to get two people—let alone three, four, five—on the same page. Let alone in the same room. It was a struggle to get everyone in the same mindset. Being on my own… everything feels so much more accessible for me.
What made you decide to keep the band’s name rather than going off in an entirely different direction?
Well, when I came up with Kullers, the idea was so strong—the idea, the branding, the concept—that it was hard to part ways with it. People still see me and identify me with Kullers.
So, when you’re in a band there are so many different voices and opinions and that can be what it’s all about. But when do those different voices become counterproductive?
Counterproductive is a good word because I wouldn’t say the three of us—when we were together—we didn’t bicker. It was never anything rash. It was just the slightest difference in opinion or approach could cause a lot of time to—not be “wasted”—but rather, not be utilized usefully. I’ve been the creator of the music so I’m very protective of it and I have that specific vision for it, but it’s hard to say “hey, you’re doing it wrong” even when they’re not.
It’s that balance between wanting to tell them “this isn’t what I envision” and “that’s what you envision”.
Yeah, it’s hard to do that when you’re in a band. Everybody contributes because they’re not “the back-up band”, they’re Kullers. Especially if you’re creating something together.
As far as going solo, what are you doing instrumentally since you don’t have that band presence anymore?
It’s mostly just going to be backing tracks because I want a very minimal stage presence. A keyboard, a synthesizer—maybe two or three songs with a guitar. I’m very much a mobile artist when it comes to onstage presence, and I feel like when I have my guitar, I’m very limited. There are just endless boundaries for me when I’m performing and anything that hinders that is frustrating.
So, what about this new album? Tell me about it.
It came together super quick. Love You Love You was released in June but was done in about February or March. I’m super proud of it. It’s a lot more concise than the last record was. I produced it all, I wrote it all myself, but it was the first album in years that I hadn’t mastered myself, and it was very hard to let someone else do that. But it was great, working with other industry professionals. They were amazing to work with and the work speaks for itself. The flow of the album is great. I’m very much a fan of the records you can blow through in 45 minutes and this shows that. I was born and raised on listening to records from first song to last song and it’s hard when it’s so long that you can’t listen to it in the car or something.
Was that part of the creative process, or what else went into that?
Yeah, I’ve done EP’s in the past but I wanted a collection of music. It’s an artwork, you know? The track listing, the way it flows, is so important. And I’ve been calling it album number two since Kullers was a band, but this is my first album as the new Kullers. So it’s not really a debut but it’s the new identity, as in I’ve kind of parted ways with the rock side of things and I think this is a good stepping stone for that.
Would you say that’s one of the thematic purposes of the album, to say that, “this is the new Kullers”? Or what would you say are the other themes within the album?
These songs really fall into the vein of who I am and where I’m coming from, so yeah, that’s part of it. But this album, in terms of my writing, are kind of bitter. Everything I write is tongue-and-cheek, but at the same time there are songs like “Love You Love You” that are very much about being happy you’re with somebody and they make you feel great. I feel like this one goes a little bit more up and down with the emotions.
I know you’ve said before that your musical influences are The 1975 and bands like that, and it definitely speaks for itself through your music. When you’re an artist coming of age, however, how do you manage to distinguish yourself from those popular influences rather than risking the misconception that you are just following in the trend?
At the end of the day, the music you create is a result of the music you’ve heard. When I went to college I took a songwriting class, and one of the biggest points that the teacher made was, “rewrite the hits”. And I remember sitting in that class and wanting to get up and leave. And I feel like artists like myself—along with The 1975 and Coin—all had similar influences. So it all comes from the same place. I just go with whatever comes from me naturally and go with it. But I feel like what sets me apart is a personal lack of phoniness. I think too many people nowadays—especially with social media personalities—who do things because they can and not because they want to. I just like having that organic quality behind the music, and find it very important to music.
What would you say is the future for Kullers?
It’s open-ended, which is good. There’s a lot of doors I can go through. Right now I’m just trying to get this record everywhere, because I feel like—not only the quality of the product, but the marketability is very there. You see it and you think, “I wanna be a part of that.” But I plan on moving from Chicago to LA, and I feel like I’ll have a new market over there. I just want to get over there and get on the road with it.
Listen to Kullers’ new album, Love You Love You, now on Spotify.