The United Kingdom rock band known as The Kut have long been a labor of love for the one-person force behind the project, Princess Maha.
After founding her own label, Criminal Records U.K., to house the band and pushing through the flurry of responsibilities associated with such a position, Cargo Records picked up not just The Kut but the independent label’s operations as well. That helped bring about an end to the stalling that was keeping Maha’s music from getting out to the world and even placed her work alongside the creations of artists like Chelsea Wolfe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Even though several stifling experiences with an assortment of labels initially kept Maha’s music from seeing wide release, they also allowed for the further development of her project. “I feel like everyone is on their own timeline, but the stalling allowed me to get something out that I’m really happy with,” she says.
It was Maha’s desire to avoid ignoring her feelings about her songs that led her to establish her own record label, and a similar push led to her feeling empowered enough to be the sole on-paper voice behind The Kut. She says that she wanted to “own” her work and not “hide behind other people.”
In that light, the band’s debut full-length, Valley of Thorns—released in April via Criminal and Cargo Records—is largely the product of Maha’s life up to this point. “I guess [my songwriting] just comes from experiences, really,” she explains. “Things that happen or something someone says can just kind of make you think of a certain vibe. I think a lot of the songs on the album are kind of in that vein as well, just like portraying something from a certain time—although, I mean, obviously, there is an element there of storytelling in tracks too. Still, when people point to songs like ‘I Want You Maniac,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want a maniac with me; it’s more just the vibe at the time.”
Maha adds that “I Want You Maniac” is one of the songs that was more of a “wildcard” in terms of making it onto the album. Overall, she feels that “when you get studio time, you need to make the most of it.” That feeling is a relatable urgency that Maha has humanized in the form of Valley of Thorns.
Photo by Canz Rickman