MathasChampioned by local rap icons and indie bands alike, Mathas has just released a new single that’s already making a great impact. Preparing to support Thundamentals on their upcoming tour, he found some time to talk about his latest material (and his feet) with NICK SWEEPAH.

If you’ve been to see a fair bit of live music in Perth over the last few years, of any genre, chances are you’ve caught a set from a rapper named Mathas. Having played alongside a vast spectrum of local artists, from Abbe May to Injured Ninja to his cohorts from The Community (not to mention supporting internationals hip hop acts like Shabazz Palaces, Sage Francis and even RZA), he’s sharpened his live shows to an extremely fine point. He’s worked hard at his craft, and with the release of his latest single Nourishment (featuring Abbe May), it seems to be paying off. With a relatively quiet announcement via his Facebook page, the song was launched onto an unsuspecting Internet, the citizens of which seem to be embracing the tune in ever growing numbers.

According to the man himself, this wasn’t what he originally had in mind. “The funny thing about this tune is that I never intended it to be a song that was released as a single. It’s a five and half minute song.
Before I ended up having the miraculous idea of getting Abbe on the song to sing the hook, I was trying to sing it myself. I was having a lot of trouble with the way it sounded, I didn’t particularly like it. It was always just supposed to be a song that would just be on the album.” He goes on to explain that “It was just me putting my own thoughts into a song, trying to do it in a way that was emotive and subtle, without trying to be preachy, even though it may turn out a little bit that way, but you can’t avoid that.”

For those reading this that haven’t heard the song, it’s more than just the running time that makes it an unlikely single – despite having now received spot rotation on Triple J, it’s a song with a pretty serious message. “Basically, I’m a person that’s worked in the food and drink industry for a very long time. I personally feel that the act of sharing food, especially in the sense of family and friendships and social development is quite important. I think it’s a huge part of human development. I feel like some part of the country’s history is very long and very old, but lost, and the only thing we identify with as a food culture in Australia are things from British inheritance, or American influence.

“So basically it’s about, personally, feeling like I lack some very crucial element of culture and I feel like that is due to the fact that I, personally, have very little contact with the people who are indigenous to this country.” After leaving it at that for a moment though, he expands on this, adding that it’s “A very white perspective. Or it’s trying to talk to people who feel the same as me, as opposed to trying to convert other people into a way of thinking. That’s really not what it’s trying to do.”

Anyone familiar with some of Mathas’ recent output will be aware that his previous single (with spectacular video) was entitled White Sugar. Again, the food theme arises – but is that through any conscious effort? “I don’t know whether it’s something I intentionally do,” he explains, “I just think my natural thought process goes back to food a lot.

I don’t feel like I freestyle very well, but I do enjoy doing it, and sometimes I get on a really good tangent and feel good about it – and quite often it’s about food!” Food themes aside, if you’ve seen Mathas play live more than once, you may have noticed something else. The guy clearly doesn’t like to wear shoes on stage. “I think I’ve always done that, in terms of rap shows as far as I can remember.

There was something about the first time I did it, when I took my shoes off I felt more like I was in my living room. It made me feel more comfortable when I was scared as fuck being on stage.” Nowadays the nerves aren’t such a big deal. You’ll still catch him barefoot, although he says that “Recently, I’ve become aware that feet are associated with kind of stank and gross, which I never really minded because I don’t mind associating myself with those things. But I’ve definitely become aware that it’s more polarising than I thought it was.” If you let this put you off seeing him sometime though, just know that you’ll be missing out on a big part of the future of Perth hip hop.