Ta-ku on Fitting In: "I Don't Dwell Too Much on Where I'm Placed Within a Genre"
Ta-ku will be at III Points this Saturday.
Photo by Johnny Castle
Australian musician, producer, and now singer, Ta-ku has been making the rounds on the EDM circuit for the last couple of years, but his inclusion on these lineups has less to do with his ability to fit into the EDM scene and more to do with the undefined genre limitations of the electronic music world.
“With everything that's going on with electronic dance music, even some of the festivals that I play, a lot of the peers or people that I make music with, they're very much on the dance side of the electronic music spectrum. Mine’s definitely a lot slower, a little bit more romantic.”
His last two solo albums, Songs to Break Up To and its more optimistically titled follow-up, Songs to Make Up To, bounced from delicate piano compositions, to late-'90s R&B-influenced vocal tracks, to cinematic instrumental soundscapes — like 2013’s “Heartbreak (Sinking),” where sounds of shattered glass appear to mock up the actual sound of heartbreak.
For his Saturday III Points set, Ta-ku will forego the expected DJ set to play with a full band instead, including his latest collaborator, Wafia, with whom he released the (m)edian EP in August.
He acknowledges that it can sometimes be challenging to set a different vibe for an audience that may be expecting a dance set, but he's opted for the more artistically fulfilling path. “I could go to these festivals and DJ, but I just feel like if I'm going to go tour and represent my music, I just want to play strictly my own music and take people more on the journey of our last two EPs. And sometimes it works if the crowd's kind of open to it, but other times it can be a little hard trying to get the crowd into it if they're expecting to move a little bit more.”
III Points, with its increasing diversity in musical genres, may be the perfect festival to bring Ta-ku and Wafia’s (m)edian project to the stage. The album, including the sleeper hit “Love Somebody,” focuses on themes of compromise within relationships and represents an even sharper turn toward the R&B and pop music worlds.
Ta-ku believes these are his musical influences coming to the fore. “Its funny. The [EDM] scene — that's just kind of where I've been placed. I've dabbled in some kind of trap and some other stuff too, in my remix work, so that's where I kind of fit. When I was coming up in music, I used to listen to a lot of old stuff. I'm a big hip-hop head, so back then I was getting into music like J Dilla, DJ Premier, but also I was very much into neo soul. So, I used to love Dwele, Raphael Saadiq, the Roots. It was very much hip-hop/R&B/soul-based.”
Asked which set he's most excited to catch at III Points, his response is unequivocal: “Method Man and Redman. They're childhood heroes for me. I'm looking forward to seeing them the most, hopefully catching some songs from Blackout.”
Like the artists he's looked to for inspiration, Ta-ku plans to continue to follow his musical impulses in whatever direction they may take him without concern for the noise from those around him. “A lot of amazing opportunities have come along, and it's been a crazy two years, but I just want to keep progressing and writing more things as an artist... I don't necessarily dwell too much on where I'm placed within a genre. I just go and do my thing. I think music definitely is more about breaking barriers and making sure that it's accessible to everyone.”