Ta-Ku is an extraordinary Australian producer that should probably be known by name. Fusing hip-hop and downtempo/ambient qualities that counteract the prominence of trap-like percussion, the Perth native incorporates just the right amount of electronica into his sound. Affiliated with Brownswood, HW&W, Darker Than Wax and Soulection, Ta-Ku has built a plethora of remixes, reworks (in his words, "retwerks"), and originals that gravitate towards beat music and instrumentals.
We've seen his ability to incorporate hard-working synths, blaring feedback and heaps of bass within "Handful", his rework of Drake's "Girls Love Beyonce" and his remix of Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie". If those songs aren't enough to rave over, his latest remastering of Daughter's "Love" showcases a lighter side to the experimental artist. Ta-Ku has accumulated more and more transnational fans upon each and every release, launching his career while remaining completely unpretentious. Interviewing him left me stunned due to his nonchalant and humbled nature, proving how well-spoken he truly is, not only as a producer, but as a person. I even got my own nickname from the man himself (B-Ron).
EARMILK: Who is the man behind Ta-Ku? Surely you can't be human.
Ta-Ku: I'm a normal dude and yes, I have a 9-5 job. Ta-Ku to me has always been my way of getting my music out internationally. Music is a release for me; something to outlet my energy to. It really all started when I was in high school where I spent a lot of time with my cousin who is an avid hip-hop fan. I was immersed in Nas, Biggie Smalls, Wu Tang, and R. Kelly because of him. My love for "urban" music started right then and there, and before I knew it, I had a huge record collection.
EM: Your remix of Flume's "Left Alone" kind of blew up. Tell us a bit about how it came to be.
Ta-Ku: A year or two before this, myself, Flume and Chet Faker all chatted constantly on the Internet since we lived all over Australia (Flume in Sydney, Chet Faker in Melbourne and myself in Perth). Flume remixed one of my songs and so this was really just my way of returning the favour. It was out of friendship more than anything else. I was really surprised how quickly people caught onto it to be honest with you.
EM: I think we're all wondering how you are so quick to release so much music. Is this a way of challenging yourself?
Ta-Ku: Yeah that's exactly how I would put it. I'm ambitious, and I've had a lot of interest in people wanting to manage me who advise me to slow down on my releases. This age we live in, if I feel like putting up music that I made last night, I'm going to do it… and not on a record label's time. That's the great thing about Soundcloud. The 60 Days of Dilla were all just exercises to see if I could pull through with it, and I had so much fun doing it. It's also a way to stay competitive. I love the way how the music industry has evolved in the past few years, and I want to be smack in the middle of that progression. It's not exactly the point of staying relevant, but rather challenging myself in various mediums within a short amount of time. The fact that people are e-mailing me, commenting on my Soundcloud and following my music makes me want to continue.
EM: What qualities have to be present in a song for you to find it remix worthy?
Ta-Ku: It has to be soulful. I've always called my music soul, whether I'm sampling or tipping my hat off to the EDM world. I like to think my remixes are soulful and moody, that come out of a talented place. The original has to have some sort of substance that I can feed off of, like Chet Faker's "Left Alone". His lyrics are so meaningful, and it really inspired me to alter the elements into my own creation.
EM: You often mention how influential the Redbull Music Academy was. How do you think it shaped you as a musician?
Ta-Ku: I really only started making "decent" music that year (2008), but I still couldn't even believe that I got in in the first place. It truly blew my mind… they pay for absolutely everything! They put on a plethora of lectures each day while you're able to work in studio with fellow producers. It was heaven to me. It was all just energy, and the best part was that when we all left, I saw a bunch of the friends that I had made there blow up in the music world (Onra, Hudson Mohawk). They skyrocketed, and that's really impressive to see.
EM: How has the Australian market and environment adhered to your musical progression?
Ta-Ku: What's happening in Australia right now is really hard to ignore. I don't know what's going on, but there's so much happening. The mainstream is lending an ear to more underground acts, like Flume beat out One Direction for the #1 album spot on the charts. Flume's just a kid! It's so annoying to think he's only 21, do you know what I mean? I wouldn't have it any other way, but there's something in the water here.
EM: Your recent post about "the feeling when someone buys your whole discography" resonated with me. It's sad that this is hard to come by nowadays.
Ta-Ku: I understand what it's like to be a fan of music, and I'll be honest, paying for music sometimes can be a pain in the ass. If I can get a free song from an artist I love, that makes me really happy! When I buy digital or vinyl, it's because I really want that artist in my catalogue and I want to support the artist financially. So when someone does that for me (especially when they buy my entire Bandcamp), I'm so touched. Quite frankly, I don't know why someone would want to buy the whole thing (laughs). I e-mailed the dude right away and said that he can have any of my exclusive stuff whenever he wants.
EM: Envision your depiction of a Ta-Ku fan. Who are they and what do they look for in a producer?
Ta-Ku: Going off Twitter and the e-mails that I get, there are two types of fans: the fan boy and the fan girl. The fan boy is into production himself who are always sending heaps of love and are super polite. They all tend to look for the same richness and fullness of a sound like Cashmere Cat and I seek out. Then there are the fan girls, who just love the acapellas being chopped up. I'll be honest, I'm a fan girl when it comes to taking a female vocalist and chopping it up. It gives the track a new anthem feel.
EM: What are you planning to do ideally in the next little bit?
Ta-Ku: After all the hype from the remixes, I've recently said no to continuing in that vein for now. I still have 7 or 8 unreleased remixes that will be released over the next few months, but in the mean-time. I've done a lot of EPs, which are great, but I haven't really serviced the Australian market. In order to do so, I'm making an EP/LP to further introduce Ta-Ku to all of Australia. I want it to be cohesive. I'm releasing an EP with Chet Faker as well soon, and Flume and I are playing around a bit as well. Watch out!