You probably wouldn’t feel familiar if we mention Regan Matthews as one of the biggest and intriguing name in electronic/instrumental hip hop nowadays. What do we mean by that? You can ask, but it’s pretty clear that if we’re using Regan’s popular persona and stage name, Ta-ku, people are going to notice better. And also would give the nod to the first sentence.
Hailing from Australia, Ta-ku started to get a lot of public attention from his very first EP, Songs to Break Up To in 2013. Making his way throughout the music scene, he becomes one of the modern “it producer”.
In the same year as he starts gaining fame, Ta-ku started to spread his creativity into photography. His distinctive street-urban-nature photography works that he shares mostly on his Instagram, @takubeats, succeed to get him more fans and followers. His projects, Team Cozy and Create & Explore are becoming influential for the young Instagramers or even photographer -not to mention countless kids who try to copy his photography style and character.
First time visiting Indonesia to play at We The Fest 2016, a two-day festival held by Ismaya Live, last August, Ta-ku is surely one of the most anticipated acts there.
Took place in a tent while rain was pouring down outside, we had a chance to have a less-than-15-minutes casual talk with Ta-ku right before his set. From his musical influence, photography, to things he would possibly bring along if he got stranded on an isolated island, here are some words from one of the most laid back, down to earth guy we’ve ever met.
What do you say about the state of the growing electronic musicians/producers, specifically in the dance music sub-genre, you name it, like Flume, Knife Party and else, in this past few years in Australia? I mean, you’re one of those who produce your own music and worked it out, get well-recognized.
I think it’s special whether there is something happening in Australia right now, I’m not too sure. But it’s actually nice to have producers come out to the spotlight, produce music and perform as solo artist. Because it has been like this always, you know like a rapper and a DJ, singer, or bands, but never as solo producer. So it’s very special.
Every year, since the beginning of this festival, Future Classic‘s rosters always end up on the line-up, getting involved to play here, for example Flight Facilities for last year and you and Hayden James now. Do you guys ever have a talk to each other about We The Fest?
No, we’re not actually talking about that, but I mean, it’s definitely nice to be able to play festivals with labelmates. It’s always been special to be in the line-ups with people that I’m friends with and people that I know.
At the beginning, people know you as a producer, but now, people recognize you as a photographer as well and basically. When did you first get in touch with music producing and photography and stuff for the first time?
Music comes first in my life. I graduated high school I didn’t know what to do. So, I got a fulltime job when I was 21. Then I wanted to learn DJ-ing. But then I wasn’t the best DJ so then I got into production because I was collecting so much vinyl and being exposed to so much music. So then I started producing music and while I had my fulltime job I was able to leave that job to pursue music fulltime and it was 2013 when I started photography. It was just because I got a little bit sick of music and wanted to try something else. So I bought my first camera and ever since then I’ve been in love with photography.
We can say that you set a new trend and standard in the realm of Instagram photography with your distinctive character and ideas of photos.
Yea, when it comes to music and photography and everything I do, I definitely want to make it distinctly me and to reflect my taste and what I like to do. So, it was important to me to put my own flavor on what I do.
Who’s your favorite photographer?
You know, I know I should say classic photographer but you know if you got an Instagram, one of my favorite photographers has to be a friend of mine Johnny Castle or @jaynumberfive. He’s on the same Team Cozy team and Create & Explore team with me. He takes so many photos and has lot of photos he doesn’t upload. Looks amazing. I’m a big fan of him.
Back to the music, who’s your biggest influence?
I would say J Dilla. He definitely is the biggest inspiration for me. Unfortunately he’s not around anymore but he left the legacy behind and his music speaks throughout the years. It’s how soulful his music is that moved me, made me want to be a producer.
Back to 2015, you took part in TED Talks as a speaker. Can you tell us about that?
Yea, I got asked to do the TEDxSydney talks at Sydney Opera House. I was speaking to the youth and so I just want to tell them about my story and how I got to where I am. I was very nervous when I gave that talk but it was special for me because to be able to talk up there in front of all the youth and tell ’em about my story was the biggest must’ve done for me. It was a lot of fun.
I was wondering about the idea behind your artworks for the mixtapes and albums that always have this floral, minimalist aesthetic, combination of typography and photography. From where did all those ideas come from?
I guess design is always been important to me. When I first off high school I wanted to be a designer but obviously got the fulltime job and then fell into music so to me when I put out music I want to make sure it looks beautiful, you know. I think, all the visuals sit hand in hand with music, that’s what I try to achieve every single time.
What’s the next objective for Ta-ku regarding producing and releasing new music?
So I just finished an EP with Wafia called (m)edian and for me that was very fulfilling musical project. So, next is my album which is gonna be a lot of features, a lot of people that I’ve always wanted to work with and I’ve always been working with, combination of everything that I’ve done until now on.
Can you tell us more a bit about (m)edian?
It’s an EP that me and Wafia did together. We caught up for two days, wrote it in two and a half days. It’s the fastest I’ve ever written any kind of music. We wrote about a very personal part of our life which is our relationship with our fathers and we’re very happy about that EP.
If you could pick and bring anything, 3 things top, to help your survive longer on an island without people and civilization at all, what would it be?
I would take my bible, my wife, and I would take, ummm, fried chicken. (laughing)
Last but not least, if this is your very last chance in your entire life to make 1 song only, what would be the title of it?
I would call it “I Love You”. It’s just because I do, I love a lot of people in my life. It would be dedicated to everyone that has been supported me from the beginning.