When I spoke to Ta-ku on the phone, he was seeing to the final renovations to the barbershop he's opening.
Yeah, I’m working on it with the barber that I’ve had for a couple of years now. We’d been talking about wanting to open up our own barbershop for a while so – yeah, a bit higher, mate – and we found the perfect place, so we just went for it.
I guess the aesthetic feel to it all, the way it looks and feels, makes it a little Ta-ku-ish. And I’ll be there once or twice a week, which also makes it Ta-ku-ish, I guess.
Of course, what else would Ta-ku be doing? He only holds down a 9-5, moonlights as one of Australia’s most popular producers, supports a family, and curates all manner of other creative endeavours. A barbershop is the logical next step, really.
Ta-ku’s incredible work ethic isn’t a revelation. There’s been plenty written already about how impressive his talent and prolificacy as a producer is, given that music is a hobby that takes up a relatively small part of his work-life balance. I asked Ta-ku if there was anything else, besides his remarkable work ethic and cucumber-cool beats, that he wished people knew about him.
No, I appreciate that. I never want to take myself too seriously, but I always know that I put 100% into everything that I do. If I were to not be here tomorrow, I think that’s something that I’d want people to remember me for. I’m quite passionate in any field, whether it’s music or whatever other outlet I choose, anything to do with my life or the people around me, so yeah, I appreciate that a lot.
It just becomes something that you do. No matter what you do, whether you’re an electrician or you work in the music industry, your job becomes second nature if you do it for long enough. I’ve learned how to balance things well and put energy into different areas without burning myself out. It’s just what I do, I guess.
More impressive than the drive is the direction. Ta-ku divides what spare time he has left between a number of creative endeavours, geared towards uncovering and promoting young Australian talent.
I think most of my projects, at least my creative ones, are about creative collaboration and getting that exposed to as many people as we can, especially people who wouldn’t usually be exposed to that kind of thing.
Sunday Records is a little label collective I started up a while ago. It’s kind of been on hiatus on and off, but we’re looking to relaunch and revamp it very soon. I wanted to give a platform to other artists that I was feeling, just to put their music out there, using my channels to get them heard.
I’m a strong believer in this kind of stuff. I feel like if you’re talented and I feel what you do, there shouldn’t be anything stopping me from co-signing you or putting you on. If it’s good content or good music, then I’m all for it. One guy I’m a really big fan of is Chiefs. I feel like he’s kind of slept on, but his production is really world class. He’s someone I’d definitely want to have on for the Sunday Records relaunch, for sure.
Recently, the label’s turned into something else – you know, we throw events in Perth under the Sunday Records banner - and I think it might be become more of a creative agency than a record label as it evolves. I think with Sunday Records, it will definitely cover different mediums, as well as events, and interesting collaborations with other musicians and producers rather than just those on the label. I’d also like to work on some things to do with the Australian music scene, and the industry itself.
Ta-ku pauses for a second. You can almost hear the thoughts ticking over inside his head. His experience with the music industry and his indefatigable enthusiasm for all things creative has left him with no shortage of ideas. He jumps back in on the topic of multimedia.
I’ve also always wanted to put together a book, you know, a profile of all the different beatmakers in Australia, from five years ago to now. Just something that would spotlight Australian music, in a way that’s Australian.
I asked Ta-ku whether he hears a unique, Australian sound in our electronica, or whether Australian producers are tapping into a more global sound.
The latter. I definitely think that the Australian sound community are doing something really special. That said, I wouldn’t define the sound, but rather, the movement. I don’t think any of it sounds the same, but I think what we’re all doing together is definitely something to be noted.
I don’t think that anybody has documented it in a way that’s true, and in a way that gives it the respect that it needs.
People are quick to say ‘Ah, it’s just a bunch of kids creating this Australian sound.’ A lot of stuff that the guys are doing now is stuff that we’ve never seen in the Australian music industry. Australian music has always been mainstream pop artists, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel like what some of the underground electronic producers in Australia are doing now - you know, getting recognition at an ARIA level - is really cool, and needs to documented in a proper way.
Beyond Sunday Records, Ta-ku also curates a project called Create and Explore, a project which pairs producers and photographers and asks for a collaboration between the two mediums. I asked Ta-ku about the concept and how it started.
I’m just a sucker for a good music video. Really, anything that’s aesthetically beautiful and has a good soundtrack behind it. So I came up with an idea that kind of forces creativity or collaboration.
I tell each producer to put a track together and get it to the photographer by a certain date, and then make sure the photographer has something ready in a certain timeframe. Those dates definitely aren’t set in stone - there’s a lot of leeway if they want to take their time with it - but I feel like creating something like this, and giving people the opportunity to get something done by a deadline, just encourages creative collaboration at a faster pace. It’s really cool. There are about 20 on the go at the moment, so any one of them could be finished any day now.
A lot of the photographers or videographers are just starting out, so it’s good to put them on a platform where they can be seen or heard. It’s a good look for everyone, I think, and I enjoy that kind of stuff. It’s similar to Sunday Records, in a lot of ways.
We finally got around to talking about Ta-ku himself. I asked about the EP that he’d been working on with Chet Faker; it seemed like it had been in the pipeline for years now, and I asked how that project was coming.
Yeah, we made a whole bunch of tracks, but I guess the timing wasn’t right. He had his LP (Built On Glass) and I had my EP (Songs To Break Up To) come out before that. To be honest, man, they were pretty rough. I was actually listening to it the other week, and it’s nice to have those songs for my personal reference. We’ll definitely being doing stuff together in the future, I definitely want him on my album.
But we probably won’t hear that EP as it exists now?
Probably not, nah.
Ah, that’s a bummer!
Well, you never know - maybe.
But you have some plans for a debut album?
I do, yeah. I’ve got Songs To Make Up To next, which is almost finished, and then I want to release a really solid album. It’s something that I haven’t done yet. I’ve just done a bunch of EPs, but I haven’t released a debut LP yet. That’s something I’m excited about, and I really want to make it count.
It’s definitely going to tie in with both Songs To Break Up To and Songs To Make Up To, so it’ll be one continuous listen. I want people to be able to listen to the three of them consecutively. I’ve got some pretty cool features lined up as well, which I can’t really talk about.
As well as working on a new album, curating Create and Explore, managing Sunday Records, opening a barbershop and continuing to pump out countless incredible jams, Ta-ku will be playing at Listen Out Festival this September. Be sure to catch him if you can; you never know what he’ll be up to next.
Make sure you catch Ta-ku at Listen Out Festival in September. Don’t miss out, buy tickets now!
All images courtesy of Ta-ku’s aesthetically pleasing instagram.
By Jake Ausburn