As much as I love hip-hop, EDM will always have a special place in my heart. More specifically, it’s the trap -EDM- hip-hop crossover that never disappoints.
Insert Wuki, a producer and DJ from Denver who recently made the move to bright and sunny Los Angeles. Having worked with the likes of Slushii, GTA, Diplo, Wax Motif, and A-Track — to name a few — Wuki has earned the respect he deserves in the dance music scene. When Wuki, real name Kris Barham, isn’t performing explosive sets at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, he’s busy managing his own record label, Wukileaks. Fitting to the name, he recently dropped his first single, “Chop it” featuring Bri Berlay.
I met up with him in downtown Los Angeles late-Wednesday evening and we bonded over a mutual love for weed. After sharing a Chong’s Choice Skywalker pre-roll I found in my whip (always clutch), I was eager to hear his story during a quick rooftop sesh.
And if there are two states that know anything about marijuana, it’s California and Colorado.
For those who don’t know you, who is Wuki?
My name is Kris Barman. I’ve been around in the music industry for a minute. I was in a band for a long time and have always been a huge fan of electronic music. I make fun dance music with a hip-hop and ghetto-tech flare to it, I guess. I don’t really take myself seriously. I really try not to make too much emotional music, honestly. All of my stuff is very party-oriented.
How did you get your start?
I started playing instruments when I was like 13 — I started playing guitar. Started making beats when I was 16 on Fruity Loops. Between 19 and 20, a buddy of mine that was always a huge fan of our local scene started a band, an electro-rock band. I dropped out of school to go do that. I dropped out of college to go pursue this band.
What were you studying?
I didn’t have a major yet. I didn’t know what the fuck I wanted to do.
Talk about starting your own label, WUKILEAKS, and what you look for in artists.
It kind of came naturally, as I had so much music and I didn’t want to rely on other labels to plan it out. So it kind of was just a natural extension of what I was doing. I don’t know. I really look for anything that has raw creativity — nothing too serious either. I don’t like to feel like I’m in the matrix. I wanna have some sort of concept to it in a fun way.
You mentioned earlier that you love hip-hop, who are some artists that you’re into?
Well, I guess more R&B, I really love Majid Jordan. DVSN, too. I love those guys. I really like Robb Bank$. He’s crazy, like super artsy stuff. I also really like Saweetie. And then all the stuff that gets popular, I usually really like too.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
It might be something really obscure that you probably wouldn’t even know. But I think recently it’s probably that Saweetie EP.
That’s my girl — I’m from the Bay! I love “B.A.N.” and “Icy Girl,” of course.
Yeah, “Icy Girl” obviously is the one everybody heard. Hold on, let me see… I have some really weird shit. I also have some new metal shit on here. Probably Majid Jordan. They’re so good.
Speaking of, dream collab?
It would probably be Missy Elliott.
What was your last dream about?
Man, I smoke too much weed, I don’t really remember my dreams. My dreams are usually really obscure. It’s not like I’m in a place or anything, it’s more just like I wake up and it was like a feeling.
Talk about the adrenaline you get when performing and how you use weed in your routine.
When I perform, I definitely don’t get high before I play.
Man, I feel like if I was a DJ, I would love to get lit.
Well, it depends. If I have like a big festival set, I need to have really, really hyperfocus and I need to be on the mic, I don’t smoke. I might drink a little bit. But if it’s like an after-hours or some shit then whatever, I’ll take a hit a weed.
Has there ever been an instance when you were high and you couldn’t focus?
Yeah, it’s possible you could be too high. [laughs]You get a little sensitive about it and self-conscious. I wonder if that’s a good thing though too because I always think you usually feel that way for a reason. But as far as my creative process, I use weed… like I usually don’t smoke until the end of the day.
[At this point, a couple sneaks up to the rooftop and asks if it’s okay if they hop the gate into the pool area. We said yes.]
Who has better bud, Cali or Colorado?
Okay, I think it’s probably just as good in both places. Everywhere’s ridiculous. But check it out, you get higher in Colorado.
Elevation. Everything’s in the air. You get drunker faster, too.
What are you favorite stains?
I just like any kind of Sativa, really.
You’re also a massive health and fitness freak, what’s your typical routine?
Well, I pretty much work out every day after I wake up. It’s the first thing I do. And then three days a week, I’ll do some hot yoga.
No, Bikram yoga. Sometimes I just do it in the sauna here. And then other than that, I do a keto diet.
Yo, my homeboy is on that. He says all you eat is fat. That’s insane.
Yeah, pretty much. It’s like 80 percent. It’s the best diet you can do. You can just eat bacon, avocado, and eggs.
When you’re on tour, can you keep up with that diet?
It’s a little harder — you have to be kind of sneaky. I’ll go to a Mexican place in an airport and just get avocado.
That sounds expensive!
No, it’s not. It’s cheaper than getting like an eight dollar fucking burrito or some shit.
But you’re good off an avocado?
Yeah, avocados are really filling. If you eat just an avocado, you’ll be really full. I guarantee you.
I love avocados, but the thing with me is I can literally eat two at once.
Then just eat two.
Do you put anything on it?
My favorite way is soy sauce and sesame seeds.
How does marijuana help you be as healthy as you can?
I think it helps because it relaxes my muscles at night. And I’m just relaxed in general. But I think maybe I’ll get lazy if I smoke too early, but that’s why I don’t really smoke early anymore. It’s all discipline, man. It’s all up to you. It’s not the plant, it’s you.
You’re performing at Coachella this year, how do you prep for the festival?
Just kind of like jump around, have like two drinks. That’s kind of it. Try to have fun, scream a lil bit. The dude from GTA always screams. He does this hardcore scream.
How much weed are you bringing to the show?
I just usually get it there, I don’t bring it. Usually, someone has it.
Blunts or papers?
Blunts. I’m from the East Coast.
What are your thoughts on addiction in the EDM scene?
Addiction, in general, is just something that we all need to take a look at. And maybe think of the right way to treat it — have an open mind to what might be the best way to treat it. We need more of those clean needle places. I think honestly — I might get flagged for this — I think all drugs should be legal. And I think people who are on drugs shouldn’t be criminals. They should be looked at as sick. The way America approaches it seems like it’s not working. We obviously have a problem with what we’re doing. The opioid problem is insane. There’s this drug called Kratom, you ever heard of Kratom?
No, tell me about that.
I don’t know exactly what it is. Apparently, it’s a plant or something. You can take it in pill form and it’s really supposed to help opioid addiction. But the government wants to outlaw it.
How do you justify EDC and festivals that have resulted in death and drug overdose?
It’s just tragic. It’s not good for anybody — nobody wants that to happen. I’m sure there are tons of things we can do. I know at Shumbalala, they have this thing where they test your drugs — that should be everywhere. And back to what I was saying earlier, if it wasn’t a crime to have it, maybe you wouldn’t get all these dirty drugs. You should have water available everywhere, pretty simple things that could save people’s lives.
Images courtesy of Courtney Roxanne