Meeting in the Middle | Discussing (m)edian With Ta-ku & Wafia
DateFebruary 24, 2017
Peanut butter and jelly. Fries and aioli. Cartoons and cereal. Sometimes, two parts fits so perfectly that you wonder how one existed without the other. Australian artists Ta-ku and Wafia are one such pair.
Their collaborative EP, (m)edian, explores their pasts and their passions just as much as it explores their incomparable talent and undeniable chemistry. Read their interview to learn more about how (m)edian came to be, their experience performing at the Sydney Opera House with a live orchestra and more…
Can you describe the message behind your collaborative EP, (m)edian?
Ta-ku: This EP is a letter to our fathers and a dedication to our mothers. The message behind (m)edian is also subjective to whoever is listening. We want the EP to mean a multitude of things to various kinds of people.
Wafia: Definitely. It’s open to interpretation. The purpose of the EP for us was to process our relationships with our own fathers, but we never wanted it to just sound like that.
What sparked the decision to collaborate on an entire EP, versus just doing a couple of songs together?
T: I respect Wafia so much, and she’s the reason that I am now using my singing voice more. Meeting someone as talented as her makes you want to write something substantial, like an EP, rather than just a few songs.
W: I think when you meet another artist that you can connect with on both a musical and personal level, you realise that it’s a really rare thing and that it’s worth preserving this chemistry in the form of a more substantial and conceptual body of work.
You recently ended a tour together, how was the overall experience?
T: It was very touching. To be able to travel the world with other talented people and hear a crowd sing the words to our songs is an incredible feeling.
W: Touring with Reggie feels easy. Everyone one in his crew is just really considerate and kind. That kind of environment makes it really easy to enjoy what you’re doing.
Ta-ku, you teamed up with Intel Broadcast Studios and YouTube Live for a performance at the Sydney Opera House, which Wafia was also a part of. How was performing with a live orchestra for the both of you?
T: It was a dream come true. Performing at the SOH is a HUGE bucket list thing for a young Australian. To me, it’s such an honor to be a part of something like that. Also, as a musical artist, playing with a live orchestra is just unfathomable. I’m a beat maker – I don’t deserve to share the stage with an orchestra, haha!
W: Those shows felt like a perfect amalgamation of new and old musical techniques coming together on one stage, from a traditional orchestra to Reggie’s sampling background. It was truly something special to bear witness to and be a part of.
“I just want people to FEEL. To be able to listen to our music, and for it to move them to a certain feeling, is more than enough for me. Evoking thought and mood is something that inspires me to write more music.” – Ta-ku
Your musical styles complement each other really well, how did your partnership start? Did you have chemistry right from the beginning, or was it something that you had to work on?
T: The best thing about me and Wafia is how organic our relationship is. We never rushed into anything, we always give each other space and aren’t in each other’s faces. We are so very similar and have the same values and ideals. When you connect with someone as a person first – the musical chemistry follows!
W: In total agreement with Reggie. It wasn’t anything that was forced. Everything we’ve done is because it felt right in the moment.
Can you each describe your favorite strength of the other person?
T: Wafia is a very strong woman. She knows what she wants and is extremely determined. I admire how hard she works and how committed she is to her art. It’s very rare to see that in a person, and at the same time be so graceful and kind to others.
W: Reggie is an artist in every sense of the word, from his photography to music. Everything he does stems from his love of sharing something beautiful and great with his audience. He goes out of his way to make every experience memorable and unique. But what I admire most is the way he uses collaboration to bring forward the best in people. He makes you want to prove him right for believing in you. His work ethic and his passion is always something to strive for.
Both of you have expressed that emotion is a crucial component in your projects. How do you want people to feel when they hear the music you’ve created together?
T: I just want people to FEEL. To be able to listen to our music, and for it to move them to a certain feeling, is more than enough for me. Evoking thought and mood is something that inspires me to write more music.
W: At the end of the day, I think people listen to music to feel understood. They look to songs with the hope of having their feelings poetically summarized, or to evoke something that resonates or feels familiar. I think that if you write music from a truly genuine place, the audience will feel that.
What have you been able to learn from each other?
T: To trust in others creatively. To step outside of my comfort zone musically and trust in my own abilities, even if it’s scary and somewhere I never thought I would venture.
W: To never be afraid to ask for help. Working with Reggie really drives home the importance of collaboration.
The three-part video series that accompanies (m)edian is very abstract and confusing for some, can you explain the concept behind it?
T: There are a few main characters in the film. To give away who those main characters are would be defining the narrative too much for my liking. It is based on both mine and Wafia’s family situations. The film also allows others to speculate, and perhaps adapt it to some aspect of their life – if they see it that way.
W: We wanted to portray our own feelings and experiences without giving too much away. The narrative was designed with the idea that every person will see themselves as one particular character. And on a personal level, these music videos served as a vessel to show my father the impact he was having on me and my family.
Any plans for future collabs, or are you going to focus on your own individual projects for now?
T: I never rule out working with Wafia. We do have aspirations to work on individual projects right now, but we’ve also discussed how we want each other to be involved in that too!
W: Totally! We’ve been through a lot together now. It’s just about finding the sweet spots in our individual projects to bring the other into.
Photos by: Kayla Matthews