Music one big experiment for rising star

Recorded in home-built studios made from cupboards, blankets, polystyrene and a bath, Laura Hunter’s first EP, Quiet Underwater, conforms to nothing.

It’s as much a reinvention as Hunter’s hometown, post-quake Christchurch.

Mashing upbeat pop songs, drum and bass, and everything electronic, it is, she says, “experimental”.

Experimentation is her catchphrase. In the back of a dimly lit Christchurch bar Laura keeps returning to that word which describes her work, her sound, even her studio.

“We made a sound booth out of polystyrene. It was amazing,” she says, laughing. “[But] I was recording and getting high off the fumes.”

She works and reworks her songs in the studio with her producer/promoter/album-designer/boyfriend Lukas Kelly to turn them into all manner of sounds: “upbeat, electro-pop, drum and bass.”

“We’ve been really experimental. We’ve got a lot of abstract songs that are 10 minutes long with just looping vocals, or beautiful instrumentals that we love playing with,” she says.

The Christchurch singer is fast becoming a name to watch. Since the start of the year she has picked up gigs any musician would be jealous of: supporting Six60, playing on TVNZ’s U Live, and being released on Auckland’s George FM.

Laura has done her fair share of acoustic gigs, but it was only in February that she performed her first electronic gig – at the University of Canterbury’s orientation.

She and Lukas arrived to what was at first a “dead quiet” venue, but 900 students eventually packed the gig. “A couple of bus loads came and everyone was rowdy as and just loved it.”

From orientation gig to first EP, so far her experiment is a fast-moving success. Next up, an album, more gigs, more summer festivals – more experimentation.

_ Alex Baird