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Swagger In The Shadows

14 August 2013 | 4:27 am | Sean McKenna

"The whole showmanship and going out and doing a show, I see the merit in it, and I think it’s great for other artists but it just isn’t me."

Ta-Ku isn't your average underground producer; he's the kind of guy that would maintain a nine till five desk job just to keep balance and not get ahead of himself. The type of guy that places his family, friends and religion over stardom and he's the kind of guy that would offer a stranger all his exclusive material on demand because he purchased his entire discography on Bandcamp.

For the past five years his sound has progressively evolved from an inherently hip hop produce to a now more complex permutation of soulful, down-tempo beats, with increasingly trap and ambient electronic variations, all the while maintaining an unblemished balance that few other producers have managed to pull off with such finesse. His aptitude for chopping up vocal samples and effortlessly looping them in synchrony with dreary bass lines have furthermore earned him serious underground recognition on the international stage, but how much longer can Perth wunderkind Ta-Ku maintain his low profile before things blow up?

Whilst his online presence is palpable, rarely do we get to witness the ever achieving Perth beatsmith in the flesh. Unlike other local acts such as fellow Sunday label head Kit-Pop, it seems Ta-Ku, or Reggie Matthews as he's seldom known in the music world, prefers to keep a seriously low profile. “The whole showmanship and going out and doing a show, I see the merit in it, and I think it's great for other artists but it just isn't me. Music to me is a pretty personal thing and I like to keep it between me and my music”. Don't make the mistake of misinterpreting this repudiation of live performance as arrogance or fear, for Ta-Ku “making music and giving it out to people is just as intimate as doing a show.”

Raised in the “hard streets of Belmont” Ta-Ku received his introduction to vinyl via his father's love of all things motown and reggae courtesy of Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley. It wasn't until years later that the warmth of hip hop began to allure Matthews – “guys like Method Man, Red Man, Wu Tang, Mobb Deep and Nas”. Throw in competitive Crunk, Miami bass and soul influences and you've got a melting pot for electronic inspiration that the rest of us mere mortals are now fortunate enough to benefit from.  

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Up until very recently Ta-Ku has been entirely self-managed, which is a perfect illustration of the type of artist he is, working completely at his own pace and rhythm,

Being the humble kind of guy that he is, Ta-Ku references names like Sweater Beats “or anyone that's on the same label as me” as the most memorable and inspiring acts he's played along side; “I just find that I feel very comfortable and, because I know them through association or there on the label or we're mates, I just find that a lot more fun”. Yet another testament to the fact that Ta-Ku is one of the most down to earth producers out there.

Since his debut release 'different spaces' from humble beginnings with Paper Chain, Ta-Ku now finds himself affiliated with eleven different record groups, from his own Sunday Records (a collaborative project with fellow Perth beatsmith Kit Pop) right through to Project Mooncircle. This mass affiliation is as much a testament to the frenetic rate at which he produces and releases his work, as it is the quality of said material. His latest EP, REWRK VOL.II was produced, edited and released all within a two month period, quite the turnaround for a guy that works a full time day job in health care. Despite all his accomplishments however, Ta-Ku explains that “I wouldn't say that I've actually released anything officially yet, even 50 Days For Dilla [his proudest achievement to date, alongside his chronologically ordered iTunes library] was a project more than anything else”.

But it appears that's all about to change… A forthcoming collaborative EP with fellow production bud Chet Faker is on the cards for the near future as well as more rumoured material with Flume. Where the hype is really emanating for the self-confessed sneaker head however, is the yet to be named release due sometime in September predicted to be Ta-Ku's rise from the underground. So far he's kept a tight lip on which major label the record will be released through but from all reports, it's going to make lying in the shadows a difficult task after it's dropped.