In 2017, artist manager Eva Trifonas attended global music industry hive mind SXSW in Austin, Texas. She was representing Perth-born artist, producer and songwriter KUČKA, who she manages alongside Buddy Ross, and Demi Louise.
A lot has happened since then. Notably, she and KUČKA (Laura Jane Lowther) have relocated to the US with Trifonas heading up her Incgnto management company from Los Angeles. KUČKA signed label deals with LuckyMe/Warp and Soothsayer/Mushroom, publishing deals with Grammy winning super producer Ariel Rechtshaid’s Heavy Duty and Native Tongue for Australia, and she was just announced to perform Laneway and with Anna of the North in London.
With everything happening in Trifonas’ world right now, TIO asked for an update on how the move to the US is going, the stories behind KUČKA’s new deals, her advice for anyone looking to move to the US, and more.
A lot has happened in your world since you relocated to the US, what was the thinking behind the move?
It has always been my goal from the very start to create international careers for the talent I represent and for me to understand international markets. I started spending more and more time overseas and could see the opportunities that were on the horizon and decided one day just do it, and I left two weeks later.
KUČKA was my true inspiration for doing this. Since I did this, I picked up a client (Demi Louise) and have been able to lock in multiple international opportunities for my clients.
Stream KUČKA’s collab with Flume below, ‘Voices’:
You’re about to start some work with 88rising also. What’s the strategy behind working with a hybrid music company?
I’ve been a fan of 88rising’s work for a few years now. I’m a big believer that the company is creating a movement in culture and music and I wanted to be a part of that.
One of my career goals has always been to be constantly in forward-thinking environments, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect fit that 88rising. The sky is the limit at 88rising, and I’m excited to be begin being apart of that vision.
Your artist KUČKA just landed two major label deals, with LuckyMe/Warp for rest of world and with Soothsayer/Mushroom in Australia. How did those conversations start?
Matt Gudinski, Chris Rigney, Blaise Sherrie and Tig Huggins (Mushroom Group) have been in touch with Laura for a very long time. From the first conversation we had with them way back in 2016, they understood KUČKA’s vision to not be just another feature vocalist, rather help build a long term artist career and understand her vision of creating an album that KUČKA produced, songwrote and recorded on her own.
The team have always been patient and supportive in every decision we made until we decided to officially work with them. As a manager, I watched the company roll out some pretty special campaigns such as Jack River and Julia Jacklin and it has clear to me that Mushroom have incredible resources and have the power to break independent artist careers.
Dominic Flanigan (co founder of LuckyMe) and I were put in touch last year as KUČKA had a feature with an artist from the label and I was helping establish a more tailored plan for Australia for the track.
KUČKA was then invited to a Warp writing camp here in LA and Martyn Flynn (founder) and Dom were also in town and we went for dinner at this very cute spot called Casa Buona in Echo Park and they asked me “who is Laura signed with”, I replied “we are looking for a home as we speak”.
They immediately told me just how much they loved her music. I remember it so clearly – it was one of the most refreshing conversations I had had with a label to date and we were talking to a few at the time.
They understood KUČKA’s vision – it was not about ‘making bangers’ and having Top 40 and dance one-off hits – it was about the entire body of work, the art and the story of KUČKA, and this is what won us over.
They met with Laura the next day in her studio on Melrose and the rest is history. Dominic has played a key role in some iconic artist careers such as Kanye West, The Gorillaz, Aphex Twin, Hudson Mohawke and Baauer and I’m thrilled that KUČKA will be a part of this list.
The team over at LuckyMe are extremely innovative and the attention and level of care from the team is like no team I’ve worked with before.
This was a label that three years ago Laura said was her dream label and I’m genuinely so stoked to be able to be working alongside the teams over at LuckyMe/Warp.
Give us an update of all things Kucka, what’s happening in her world?
So many things! This week we have new music from the KUČKA project dropping for the very first time in over three years. Alongside this, we have global support and festival dates dropping as well as potential features and an album that KUČKA produced, song wrote, recorded and co-mixed dropping at the top of 2020.
Kucka is with Ariel Rechtshaid’s Heavy Duty for publishing outside of Australia. What is it about Heavy Duty that won her and yourself over?
The key thing that won us over was that they really wanted to add Laura to their small list of clients that all have very successful songwriting careers. Josh Kessler, Ariel Rechtshaid and Maxwell Wang (Heavy Duty) understood the kind of writer Laura wanted to be and had a vision that matched what we wanted.
The Heavy Duty team have been key over the last two years in creating opportunities for us. Beyond this, Max has been a crucial part of the KUČKA and Incgnto family, and has been the biggest supporter of both Laura and my careers.
You also manage Buddy Ross and Demi Louise. We heard Demi is now writing for some major pop acts!
Yes! Both of which are incredible. I started managing Buddy Ross over two years ago and it was actually KUČKA who introduced me to him! Over the past couple of years Buddy’s career has consistently grown at a very steady pace. Buddy has worked on Bank’s ‘III’, Bon Iver’s ‘i,i’, quite a few Frank Ocean works and many many more.
Demi is so talented, motivated and has a special kind of intuition with her approach to working with artists and songwriting. Julian Hewitt (Media Arts Lawyers) introduced me and from the day we met it was magic.
Over the past year she has been in sessions with Tommy Brown (Ariana Grande, Normani, Ayden), James Rushent (The Prodigy, Marshmallow), Mad Decent crew (Dillon Francis, Major Lazer) and many more.
Everyone that meets Demi wants her to write their entire records. We are planning to move Demi as well to LA to further her songwriting career and make her the next breakout songwriter from Australia. I can’t wait for people to know her magic.
Finally, for those who are wanting to relocate to LA to pursue a career in music (as industry or artist), what are some pitfalls you’d like to warn them against?
I remember the advice Danny Rogers (Laneway Fest) gave me a few days before I relocated – he told me to just go and meet everyone, enjoy it, and make it happen. It really stuck with me.
I’d say don’t be afraid and embrace the opportunity of being here. Say yes to everything for the first year and go with the flow, and most importantly, understand your tax position before you move to the US and plan ahead.