Ta-ku, the Perth musician more formally known as Regan Matthews made his short film debut as a part of The Red Bull Music Academy Weekender on Thursday. An event that explores the creative process, we go into the mind of Ta-ku and how his deeply personal, yet universally identifiable experiences have led to the creation of one of the artist’s finest works.
“A film about our Fathers. Dedicated to our Mothers. Can you spot the others?”
These are the opening lines of what is to be Ta-ku’s directorial debut. They linger in the back of the mind throughout, as the audience tries to piece meaning together in this highly conceptual film. A narrative is at play in the film, with recurrent characters that interlink across what seems to be three main scenes. Women wrapped in white gauze dance on screen and seem to be the interlinking catalyst in scenes, their purpose is left to the audience’s own interpretation. There are a lot of moving parts in the film regarding story line and narrative, but if I was to name a standout visual it would be the scene where an old man, a picture of fragility, feeds an industrial hose into a bathtub. The futility is inescapable as the hose pivots and wraps around the man. Another scene that stands out is the combination of all the accumulated artefacts from the film at its conclusion. The hose, plastic bags, lights the old man, the women in gauze all gathered together to form a beautifully sculpted monument.
There is no hand holding during this screening. With each scene having the possibility of either providing clarity or perplexity, it’s left up to the audience to ‘make of it what you will’. That’s the beauty of this work though, and Ta-ku explains to the audience later that it’s intention is to have each viewer apply their own situation in some way.
For Matthews, this EP and short film are about his relationship with his father. A subject him and co-collaborator Wafia formed the basis of [m]edian on. This is revealed to us in their Q&A with Red Bulls Aaron Gonsher, who would put forward all the questions the audience was dying to ask, and fortunately, the two were eager to answer. We were given great insight into both of their creative processes and through this we came to understand how deeply personal this bit of work is to them. The opening lines are given their highly anticipated explanation. Matthews vaguely describes the tentative relationship he had with his father, how his mother was the role model for him and his reflection on how children (the others) are often an afterthought in the case of divorce, with these sentiments being shared by Wafia.
As for the songs of [m]edian, the EP plays in its entirety during the screening. The back and forth between Ta-ku and Wafia is malleable, with each addition forming a new construct without breaking the mould that works so well for them. ‘Love Sombody’ is the emotional counter piece for the film and EP in terms of sound. One of the overarching themes of the night’s discussion, collaboration and compromise, is none more apparent than at this moment. The two boast heart-rending vocals, in particular Wafia. While Matthews provides lyrics such as “your faith waivers when you can’t see the end”, which Wafia points out is her favourite lyric on the EP. [m]edian never feels out of place as a coupling for the film, contributing to and complimented by each scene.
The film is co-directed by Damon Cameron, who Ta-ku explains, understood the vision immediately. Cameron reached out to Matthews early on and presented ideas that synced with the visual and sonic vision he had for [m]edian. Cameron is responsible for many directorial feats, including the video for Flumes ‘Sleepless’, and is worth checking out.
Before opening up questions to the audience, Matthews talks about this journey towards and through the world of music. This involves working on music every day after his job at Medibank, a rough breakup which propelled his 2013 release Songs To Break Up To and even 2014’s Songs To Make Up To, as well as how his photography helped the colour blind musician recompose himself and his love for music.
As the Q&A is opened up to the audience, I asked Ta-ku on behalf of The Wandering Lamb whether he considered film as an outlet similar to that of photography, which may help him in the future if music becomes too much? From here Matthews talked about how important it is to switch lanes. If you’re not feeling creative or inspired by one thing, it’s great to have something else to fall back on. For him that was photography, and although film and directing greatly interest him, it’s not in his immediate scope. He stressed the importance of having something else to focus your attention on, even if it was knitting, or what he hinted could be his next major endeavour, making leather goods.