Recently returned from the BIGSOUND music festival and conference in Brisbane, KUČKA are preparing to hit the road in support of their Unconditional + Remixes release. Although KUČKA is a three-piece live band, it is the brainchild of singer, songwriter, producer and all-round creative type, Laura Jane Lowther. She recently caught up with ALFRED GORMAN for a coffee ahead of her first full national tour.


Meeting Lowther in person, she’s quite different to her quirky, extravagantly-styled stage persona and trippy electronic music and bizarre video clips may lead you to believe. As we settle down for a drink (she orders a soy long mac) and attempt to find a spot outside the Northbridge bar where we can hear over the jazz and funk blaring through the speakers, she’s lovely, affable, chatty and quite plainly dressed, giggling over jokes like the fact her Serbian friend’s mother affectionately calls her “little vagina”, and the unfortunate misspelling of her name on her lanyard at BIGSOUND as Kuka, which an Icelandic music rep pointed out means “to defecate” in his language.
Lowther herself is originally from Liverpool, moving to Australia when she was 16, and it was her Serbian friend that playfully gave her the nickname KUČKA (pronounced Cooch-ka) which is in fact Serb-Croatian for ‘bitch’. And it stuck.
We start by talking about BIGSOUND, an experience Lowther says she really enjoyed. “It’s like the South By Southwest of Australia. You get to meet people from all over the place, chat about music and what you’re doing, and there’s a whole bunch of showcase parties. It was really inspiring to see so many great Australian acts that are killing it. I saw this band called I’lls that are awesome – sorta electronic with groovy beats. And this band Mammals from Sydney that are kinda minimal, with beautiful guitars, they were probably my highlight.”
She came out of it determined to improve upon herself, and raise the bar. “You get to see all these amazing new bands and it makes you think, I need to get to that level. I need work my ass off, and rewatch my live shows and see where I’m fucking up and get better.”
Indeed, KU?KA has moved from strength to strength since the self-titled EP of 2012 that featured the WAM Award winning track Polly (serialkillersundays), and having the opportunity to perform in Paris at the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards. Then there was the A$AP Rocky collaboration – the US rapper sampled her vocals on two tracks off his Billboard No.1 album.

Her childlike vocals can be heard at the end of Long Live A$AP, and her backing vocals feature as the hook throughout Fashion Killa, the track that famously features Rocky’s good friend Rihanna in the video clip. “Yeah it’s pretty cool. It does seem kinda surreal. Like when my friend first saw it, she was like ‘Oh my god! Rihanna is in the video for your song!’ ”
And now with Unconditional she has honed her songwriting further, creating a catchy, pop-edged gem with touches of RnB, Prince-style electro funk and sweet vocals. The single includes three quite distinct remixes from Perth producers Catlips, Tobacco Rat and Kit Pop. Lowther’s favourite is the Tobacco Rat one, but she admits she may be biased. “Well Tobacco Rat is Jake [Steele, aka Yarkhob, who plays analog synths in the band] who is my boyfriend,” she says.
Lowther studied composition and music technology at WAAPA, and she produces all KUČKA’s songs herself in her bedroom studio. One of the fascinating aspects of her sound is her utilisation of ‘found sounds’ or unique samples, that she sources from all sorts of objects and places.
“I have this one pot that I use on like, every track. On Unconditional it’s like a cowbell sound. I was driving home the other night and I was listening to RTR and I could just hear it in the background, and I thought – they must be playing one of the remixes because that is definitely my pot,” she laughs. “On another track we made a snare from a sneeze. And I use this budgie sample a lot as well. My old house mate had a budgie and I got this cool rattle from the bell round its neck, and also you can hear the wings. I still write everything, but Jake and Katie [Campbell aka Catlips, live beats] join me for the live shows, and I think that they definitely have some more input now.”