Perth beat maker Reggie ‘Ta-ku’ Matthews is on the verge of big things, with international buzz, co-signs by the likes of Diplo and Baauer, and a full length debut on the horizon. He chats with JOSHUA HAYES about his latest projects.
Released within days of each other, Matthews’ most recent efforts demonstrate his range as a producer. DoWhatYouLove, a collection of soulful instrumentals put out on vinyl by German label Jakarta Records captures the essence of Matthews’ J Dilla inspired beat making, while ReϟWrk Vol.II finds him exploring trap, two-step and juke on a series of dancefloor-oriented remixes.
“They’re both different spectrums of what I produce. They both came out at the same time so it was a bit interesting to see what would happen, but both were really well received, so I’m happy about that,” Matthews says, noting that he had recently decided to rename his Re-Twerk series. “I’m actually not too comfortable with me naming it that anymore, so I’ll change it.”
The two records come halfway through a busy and productive year for Matthews. April saw the release of Bricks & Mortar, a record featuring one side produced by German beat maker Suff Daddy, and the other side produced by Matthews, which was supposed to be released in conjunction with a limited edition sneaker designed by Highs And Lows (although supplier issues meant that the shoe has been delayed until September). Matthews says the idea for the record came out of a chat he had with his friend Matt Thomas, co-owner of Highs And Lows, and email conversations with Suff Daddy, who produced his half while briefly living in Sydney.
Meanwhile, an older album with Raashan Ahmad, recorded during the Crown City Rockers MC’s 2009 Australian tour, has just been released by Jakarta Records as a free download and limited vinyl pressing, and Matthews’ next EP Songs To Break Up To, is due in the next month or so. Despite his prodigious output, Matthews’ daily routine involves only an hour of making music – often right before he goes to sleep around one or two am. These nocturnal habits impact his sound. “Night time, for me, is a time when I’m at my most relaxed, I’m at my most reflective. Things are winding down. It’s not as stressful as during the day,” he says. “I used to be a student back in the day, and if you’re a student, you’re a night owl pretty much for the rest of your life.”
Growing up, Matthews listened to whatever hip hop was popular on the radio, but was gradually introduced to acts like A Tribe Called Quest by friends. Two songs ultimately inspired him to begin dabbling in production – J Dilla’s Fall-N-Love (from Slum Village’s Fantastic, Vol II) and Souls Of Mischief’s 93 Til Infinity.
“When I listened to [those tracks] when I was growing up, I was like ‘man, who produced this? Or how do you produce this? Where do you get these sounds? Is this a sample? If so, how do you sample?’, so, those [songs] really ignited my curiosity and got me going,” he says. Since attending the 2008 Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona, he has been building his name internationally with a series of acclaimed releases, including 24 for Californian record label and radio station Soulection, and his tributes to late artists that have inspired him, 50 Days For Dilla and 25 Nights For Nujabes. The accolades are piling up, with Diplo and Baauer including his music on their Endless Summer playlist and Rinse FM mix respectively, a production credit on Drapht’s recent single Tasty, and high profile remixes for Flume and Hermitude.
One thing Matthews hasn’t done yet, though, is release his official debut album. (He says that he considered his numerous digital releases and handful of vinyls to be ‘passion projects’.) However, it is in the works, and looks set for an early 2014 release. “It’s going to be different, but still similar to what I make. It’s got a few features on it, and I plan to do it really big,” Matthews says, before adding that he can’t really talk about the project. “It’s something I’m passionate about and it will be a culmination of all the styles I’ve done.” Although a properly promoted debut album – one that an artist with Matthews’ worldwide buzz would be capable to receiving – has potential to do big things, he isn’t particularly interested in fame or touring. “It’s something that I don’t really want to analyse too much,” he says.
“It sounds clichéd… but I just want to do it for the music, nothing else. I’m not a touring artist; I’m not someone that likes to be in the spotlight too much. I just want to make music and put it out. An artist can be that in this time. In the age we’re living in, you can just release music and there’s an audience there. You don’t necessarily have to be out and about and meeting industry people all the time,” he adds. “I don’t particularly like the club scene, but I love listening to music and locking myself away. Even travelling and listening to music in my headphones. It’s a very personal relationship, music and I.”