Tuka AKA Brendan Tuckerman stands out in the Australian hip hop scene as someone who is raw, conscious and extremely talented. He has worked on some hugely successful Like a Versions with triple j as a solo artist and with Thundamentals. These songs may have caught your attention and that of the general public but don’t stop there… much more detailed compositions of complex and thought-provoking lyrics lay within his truly unique originals such as Nirvana, Tattoo and Naked Heart. His album Life Death Time Eternal reached number six on the ARIA charts back in 2015 coinciding with his last solo tour. JACKSON MEAD spoke with Tuka about philosophy, motivations, his upcoming works and recommendations in the Australian hip hop scene. Tuka steps out for his first solo run in four years with his Selling Me Out tour hitting Jack Rabbit Slim’s on Friday, November 15.
You stand out in Australian hip hop as someone who is happy to work with the familiarity of songs such as Big Jet Plane, House of the Rising Sun and as part of Thundamentals, take Brother, and turn these songs into detailed compositions of emotion. Which song or artist would you like to collaborate with next?
To be honest it was the universe that wanted me to do these songs! I’ve done four triple j Like a Versions and House of the Rising Sun was actually a remix that alt-J asked me to do. I’m way more interested in pushing my original music but remixes and covers seem to be a cheat code to winning over the public. I guess because the public already know/love those popular songs it’s a way to get your name out there. I’d be happy to never do a cover again, Like a Versions can be really stressful as there is a lot of pressure, I much prefer to work on my own music.
When you write music what are the core values you connect to and wish your listeners to take from your music?
I feel like most people put up a front and deep-down society has got us all feeling very isolated. I naturally wear my heart on my sleeve and I like to show my vulnerabilities in my music in the hope it inspires people to be show their authentic self to one another. I obviously have a lot of fun making music as well. It’s my calling, whathaveyou. But yeah I’m all about forming connections with my community first and foremost. I hope people feel more human when they listen to my music.
We know there are so many incredible artists who never seem to gain the attention of the general public. If you could name a few who do you think deserves to be heard in the current Australian ecosystem and more importantly why?
There is a rapper I grew up called Tenth Dan, he features on two of my albums. He doesn’t really have heaps of music out but he is extremely talented. Another one is Jannah Beth, Sydney based artist, super talented rapper/singer. One more is a crew from my hometown of Katoomba, Otherside.
As mental health awareness week has just drawn to a close can you comment on general creativity and its ties to positive a mindset?
A lot of creative people suffer from mental illness. I’ve had depression for about 10 years. I’m not sure if I write better music because of it but what I do know is that I wouldn’t change myself. Depression sucks but it does help me appreciate things more in the end. It’s given me depth of character and in turn I’ve learnt that a positive mindset is key in the quest for fulfilment. Success is what you value in life not what others expect of you. Value community and music, if I can have those things I tend tend to feel better about everything.
Throughout your music career and in general life what has continued to inspire and motivate you? Literature, philosophy, role models, friends, family or something else entirely?
I have a habit of writing all my music about the people in my life. But I listen to a lot of philosophy podcasts and I watch a lot of sci-fi. I’m inspired other creatives, it motivates me to watch others kick goals.
Where do you see Australian hip hop if you were to project forward five years? Do you believe we will have a greater influence on the international/global community?
It’s a matter of time before someone cracks it overseas. So yeah it’s going global in the next five years.
Thank you for your time, your music. Keep making the momentum of creativity with your waves. Finally, can you please give us a one liner self created or referenced quote which means a lot to you in life?
Self expression is powerful, coriander tastes like soap and pineapple belongs on pizza.