A Weekend at the Opera House with Ta-ku & Wafia: 10 things we learned
Sydney Opera House - where dreams are made. Performing there for the first time was said to be a career highlight for Future Classic artist Reggie Matthews, better known as Ta-ku. The Perth based producer/singer is in rare company however, he is one of only a few to play back-to-back shows there on the same night. Vivid Live festival director Ben Marshall informed us (prior to Ta-ku's talk) that only a few artists/bands had managed this feat, a small list which included New Zealand legends Fat Freddy's Drop.
Opening with Hopeful, the intro track off his brilliant EP from last year Songs To Make Up To Ta-ku treated the audience to highlights from that and his 2013 EP Songs To Break Up To. Meanwhile lush, kaleidoscopic visuals were projected onto the screen behind him, allowing further representation of the stories told and themes presented within the music. Thanks to Intel, the 9:30pm show was streamed though sound cells located in the Opera House forecourt, as well as on YouTube to thousands of people all over the world. Supporting Ta-ku was a four piece string section, drums, keys, and musical friends Oscar Key Sung, Thandi Phoenix and rising Kiwi artist Thomston. After a handful of songs fellow Future Classic artist Wafia took to the stage to perform a trio of tracks off her upcoming EP (m)edian with Ta-ku, along with her hit-song Heartburn (also produced by Ta-ku). She returned at the end to perform American Girl in what was a fitting way to end the fantastic show.
The concert was paired with a couple of (free) live talks with Ta-ku and Wafia, which were a nice complement to the show for those eager enough to attend both events. Here's what we learned from those two days at the Opera House:
1. During his performance Ta-ku mentioned how he met Wafia for the first time, at a basketball court in Melbourne two years ago. She was in the middle of a photoshoot with one of his friends, and the two were introduced. However, one important detail he left out was later brought to light by Wafia during her talk with Erin Flanagan as part of Vivid Live's Artist Talk Program. Prior to their introduction Ta-ku had been photobombing her shoot by posing, and doing "rap squats" in the background. Infuriated, and unaware of who he was, Wafia told her manager to get him out of the way. When she was enlightened as to who the annoying guy was she felt slightly embarrassed and was soon introduced to him.
2. Ta-ku spoke about how he balances all of his passions in his life: family, faith (he's a Jehovah's Witness), music, and photography. He mentioned buying his first camera after recording Songs to Break Up To when he was a bit burnt out and just needed something else to occupy his time for a while. Now he claims photography is developing into a bigger passion than music. Judging by his instagram game it's no surprise.
3. In an extra live facebook (streamed) chat with Myf Warhurst Ta-ku revealed that he's been sitting on a completed song with Anderson .Paak for some time (they've previously collaborated on Anderson's Venice album). Right There helped showcase a more up-tempo, groove focused side to Ta-ku - something which we hope to hear more of in the future.. How about a Songs To Dance To release?!
4. During their respective Vivid Live Artist Talks, Ta-ku & Wafia both described each other almost like siblings. The connection and friendship that has blossomed has gone far beyond music and working towards career aspirations. Their families were able to meet at the Opera House in what was a special moment for both artists. Reggie said that with his family in attendance at the 7:30pm show he had to hold back tears at a certain part of the gig.
5. While one would assume that the upcoming (m)edian EP with Wafia is a collection of love songs/stories, Reggie revealed that it's actually about their relationships with their fathers. Something he has to handle when writing lyrics is to bring his own story and experiences into the music without revealing too much or getting too specific about details.
6. Wafia was once studying medicine, and was on her way to becoming a doctor. That helps explain why she's obsessed with chemical equations and scientific elements. The elements are used to help present themes for her bodies of work. Copper (which is a transition metal) was used for her debut EP XXIX - representing a constant transition and how things are ever changing in her career, and life). She indicated that oxygen could be used for her next solo EP (reflecting necessity). A combination of both is even on the cards (copper oxide anyone?!)
7. The copper handpiece she wears was designed by Zaiba Khan. Wafia initially drew all over her hand and then Zaiba took a photo and turned it into a wearable piece. It ties in with the whole elements idea, and allows her to wear, and represent her body of work (copper/XXIX).
8. Wafia is another spelling of the Arabic female name Wafiyyah, which means "loyal", "faithful".
9. The cape which she wears on stage from time to time is a custom-made piece by PAI. It displays a nazar/talisman of some sort which is used to protect one against the Arabic evil eye symbol. Wafia wears it to help complete the visual representation of herself and her heritage, and to protect herself on stage.
10. We'd always been aware of Ta-ku's talents and his progression over the last few years, however, last weekend, we left as genuine fans of the man, and his music. Wafia's talk also further showcased her bubbly side and made us fall in love with her even more. There's something so real and authentic about both artists which helps endear them to audiences. We can't wait to hear the studio versions of the new tracks on the (m)edian EP, out August 6th via Future Classic.