With Listen Out, a photography project and a Barber Shop opening in the works, Perth’s very own beat maker extraordinaire Reggie Matthews, aka Ta-ku, is one busy man to catch. Fortunately for me, Reggie was able to lay down the clippers and put some time aside for acid stag to discuss all things Ta-ku.
So first things first; where in the world are you, and what are you wearing?
Where am I in the world and what am I wearing? (laughs). Right now I’m in Perth, my home town. It’s pretty cold so I am wearing pants (laughs), I’m also wearing a T shirt and a winter vest ‘cause it is quite chilly over here.
So I guess we should start from the beginning, what inspired you to start making beats in the first place?
I guess growing up in high school I used to listen to a lot of music, and then I dunno, it was just a kind of natural progression. I wanted to be a DJ so I bought a pair of turntables. When you buy a turntable you start collecting records, and then you start listening to more music and it just kind of progresses from there. So that’s pretty much where it started for me.
What kind of records were you collecting when you were doing the DJ thing?
Back then I was collecting a lot of stuff that my dad used to listen to. A lot of soul, a lot of motown, a lot of classic rock as well. You know, like the Commodores, Jackson 5 and James Brown to anything like Creedence to The Eagles, Chicago – stuff like that.
I read in an interview you did about 18 months ago which said “Ta-ku doesn’t make beats for a living, he does it after dinner, before bed, as a side project” – do you think this is still the case, or did this change for you and how?
I had a full time job up until November last year and I quit that. I didn’t quit that necessarily to follow music, I still have a lot of things that I like to do and a lot of other projects I’ve taken on. I do keep music normally for night time, I dunno, I find that I can make it easier after midnight, which isn’t the best for my sleep (laughs), but it’s when I feel most creative. Music isn’t something that I want to do all the time, it’s a creative outlet, so it’s definitely something that I like to do in my spare time.
Well actually, that kind of leads me onto my next question. I personally, am a big fan of your Instagram accounts, and from that I can see that photography is obviously a passion of yours and with Create and Explore as well in the mix. Is photography something you’d ever consider moving to full time as opposed to music, or is it more just complimentary to your other creative outlets?
I think you’re right, it is definitely complimentary. It’s fairly new to me, I only bought a camera about 4 months ago, but it’s something that I enjoy doing. Normally when I enjoy doing something, I tend to put a lot of thought into it, but yeah, it’s definitely something that I’d like to do down the line and make it just as equally passionate as I do music…but we’ll see how that goes.
So obviously everyone in Australia loves you, being on the bill for Listen Out with artists like Shlohmo, Four Tet & Schoolboy Q must be pretty exciting. Who are you most excited to check out?
I’m a big fan of Four Tet, I’ve only seen him once before and it had to be brief because I had to play on another stage, but I think everyone is good, it’s a really great line-up. I’m keen to see everyone, Schoolboy, YG, also ZHU. In California there’s a lot of hype around him so I’d love to see his performance. So I think there’s a lot on the line-up worth checking out.
Who are you currently listening to right now. Are there any new and upcoming artists that are tickling your ears at the moment?
Right now I’m listening to…uh…it’s a good question. What am I listening to? If I were to say I’m listening to anything new it would be definitely uh…. Lido. I think Lido’s from Belgium…I think. He’s quite a big pop star over there, but he’s starting to make beats now and they’re really quite intricate, similar to like the Cashmere Cat kind of thing. There is a vocalist as well that I’ve been listening to quite a lot of, his name is Kwabs. He’s from the UK, he’s just got a real different approach to his music which is really interesting.
Are there any possible collaborations on the cards?
Well there is always talk of myself, Shlohmo, Flume and Chet Faker doing something – I think that’s inevitable.
Just back to the Instagram thing, I noticed you’re opening up a Barber Shop called Westons, on July 10th, so I want to know, what was your drive behind that – other than obviously sporting really fresh cuts yourself?
That’s what we’re doing today actually. We’ve just picked up a pool table for the Barber Shop which we’re going to throw in the middle. I’ve always been passionate about the Barber industry and I’ve always wanted to learn how to cut hair, but given the time restraints of my schedule, it’s not something I can fully commit myself to. I’m still quite passionate and I look up to a lot of the barbers here in Perth. I’ve got my hair cut pretty much everywhere I travel and the level is good, but it doesn’t seem to be as good as the level back in my home town. So when the opportunity arose to become one with the guys in Perth, I was more than happy to be involved.
So I guess we can’t expect that you’ll be cutting hair anytime soon?
I’d like to, but yeah, I don’t think I’ll be getting behind the chair anytime soon…unless you want a really bad cut (laughs).
Were you expecting ‘Songs To Break Up To,’ to do as well as it did?
Not really. I wasn’t nervous, but I was a bit conscious to the fact that the style of music that it is, is a lot different to a lot of the remixes I was putting out at the time. But at the end of the day, that project was more of a passion project for myself, and I guess I’m just fortunate that a lot of people connected with it.
I’ve also seen and heard a lot of whispers about Songs to Make Up To – how is that project going?
Yeah it’s going well, that’s actually a thing now. So I’m just trying to finalise it in the next couple of weeks and then I’ll be announcing soon when it’s going to be released, I just need a few more weeks to complete it.
What does the future hold for Ta-ku. I mean, you’ve got ‘Songs To Make Up To’ coming up, and Listen Out as well, but is there anything else that’s juicy you can tell us about?
I think just that, and then I’m just going to try and write an album. I haven’t actually released a proper album yet, they’ve all been EP’s and nothing like a full length debut album, so I’m just slowly working towards that whilst working on other things as well. Hopefully early next year that will be something I can release, but I’m just taking my time, no need to rush.
Would that include both Songs to Make Up To/Songs to Break Up To, or would it be new material again?
I think with ‘Songs to Break Up To’ and ‘Songs To Make Up To,’ the album would definitely want to be a next progressive step to that, I want to tie them all together. I’m not entirely sure how, but I definitely want them all to be where you can probably sit down in one sitting and listen to all 3 in a row and they make sense.
You’ve come quite a long way over the past few years, if you could bestow any advice on yourself 5 years ago, but what advice would that be?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Which is what I tell myself most of the time, but yeah if I could do that, that’s what I’d say.
Let’s check out Tak-ku’s Songs to Break Up To
You can catch Ta-ku at the Listen Out festivals in September/October alongside some other very impressive local and international acts.
WHAT: Listen Out 2014
WHERE: Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane
WHEN: September 27 to October 5
TICKETS: on sale now