Ta-Ku, the man of many tricks

We chat with Ta-Ku, the music producer who’s spinning off ventures in fashion, photography and barbering

takuPhoto courtesy of the artist

You’d think killing it on the music scene would be enough, but not for this self-confessed “hyper-creative”. We pin down Perth lad Regan Matthews, better known as acclaimed electronic producer Ta-ku, who’s currently spinning tunes, a camera, clothing line, burgeoning visual agency and Barbershop. Say whaaa…?

Has signing with independent record label Future Classic allowed you more freedom to pursue your other passions?
It really has. The team at Future Classic do a really great job in helping me to simplify my workload, and they do a lot of conceptual thinking for me as well – and with me – which is important, I like to do that a lot with my music and everything that I do. But it’s nice having a team that can help you get things done, because it can get hectic at times.

What initially made you look outside of music?
Naturally I’m quite a hyper-creative. I always have to be doing something in the creative spectrum… I think for me, creative collaboration really is what fuels my passion. I feel like there’s so much we can all learn from each other, and working in those environments and being around people that are similar to you, it’s just a constant learning process.

Speaking of learning new things, are you cutting hair at your Barbershop yet?
I started an apprenticeship, but because things have been so busy I haven’t been regular with it. I cut my friends’ hair in my home every now and then, and I have drawn blood and cut a few friends’ ears. But hey, that’s what you get for a free haircut! When Westons [Barbershop] opens our school I’m going to enrol myself and do it formally.

Where did the idea for a Barbershop originally come from?
I’ve always appreciated the barbershop culture and getting your hair done. There’s an art behind it. Similar to hairdressing, it’s something that you have to really learn. But I think barbering really became popular in the last two years. My barber and I would always talk, we get along really well, and he wanted to open one, so we all went in together and decided to open one.

Did your music profile help with this venture?
Yeah, with every kind of extra-curricular outlet I pursue I use the Ta-Ku brand – the existing base I have, to help those other projects get off the ground. And it’s really amazing to see my supporters, or the fan base, are so loyal. They really get behind everything that I get behind. A lot of these things wouldn’t be anything without them.

Photo: Andy Green/Red Bull Content Pull

Fashion is another realm you’re getting into. Tell us about Team Cozy…
Team Cozy started out this time last year when I went to Hong Kong to visit the guys at HYPEBEATS [online fashion magazine]… I like to wear sweatpants and comfortable shoes when I fly. I think everyone wants to look good, but I’d rather be comfortable than sacrifice for fashion. So I used a hashtag and then I started a page, and then a year later it’s got like 100k followers and [other] people are using the hashtag. And we’ve decided to make it into an apparel line this year, which is pretty special. The first line should drop closer to the end of the year.

And you’ve got a collaboration going with New Zealand label, I Love Ugly, right?
Yeah. So for Songs to Make Up To we’ll be doing a special casual [collection] with I Love Ugly. Really good guys out in New Zealand doing really cool things with that brand.

Tell us about Create + Explore. What do you plan to achieve with this one?
Create + Explore has been great because we’ve seen videographers who don’t really have a name or haven’t established themselves yet pair up with music producers from around the world and create content for us, exploring different places and countries and people. And slowly we’re turning it into a visual agency which encourages exploration and travel, and working with tourism boards from around the world – brands that encourage the same sort of wanderlust attitude – and documenting that through music and video.

Your passion for photography seems to weave through all of these things…
I think picking up my camera last year was the reason for all this crap [laughs]. I’m in love with taking photos now. I’m obsessed. It seems to be the only thing I think about these days.

Across all of these new things that you’re doing, what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Time management is always something that I’m very wary of, and making sure I spread my time evenly. But I think subconsciously I’ve done that by building teams in each project that I start… I think that’s really helped keep everything balanced. But it definitely has chewed into the time I have to make music. Music will always be my first love and I never want to abandon that, so I think that’s something I need to be wary of, to make sure I’m not creatively exhausted.

Back on music, does your latest EP Songs To Make Up To symbolise a new chapter in your life?
Most people know that Songs to Break Up To was me writing fresh off having my heart broken, which I’m sure everyone has been through at some point in their life, but [Songs To] Make Up To is like a new chapter in anyone’s life. And it’s not necessarily symbolic of getting back with the person you broke up with, or finding a new love. It’s kind of just making up for the time that you lost being in that sad state.

What’s your number one piece of business advice?
For me, ideas always start off as not-for-profit, creative pursuits – somewhere to outlet your passion. And I feel like if you start there, there’s always a potential to monetise something in an organic way. Forcing it is never good, for any business. It needs to come from a very natural and organic place where you feel comfortable – a place of things that you’re passionate about. Because if you’re passionate about something then you’re going to put 100 per cent in.

Ta-Ku has curated and is performing at the next Red Bull Music Academy x Boiler Room “Chronicles” show in Perth on June 12. Check out the trailer below:

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