WAM INTERVIEWS: SOTA Fest artist Mathas
Perth rhyme-master and past #WAMSOTY Grand Prize winner Mathas, is an immensely talented songwriter, producer, poet and performer, and he’s sure to be one of the many highlights when he hits up this year’s huge FREE State Of The Art music festival. Joining the likes of Jebediah, San Cisco, Ta-ku, Koi Child and many more on WA Day Monday 6 June, Amy Doherty caught up with Mathas to discuss his picks for this year’s #SOTAFest, his new live band, how his songs have been inspired by Three Billy Goats Gruff and his respect for current #WAMSOTY winner Beni Bjah.
Firstly, congratulations on Trolling Australia – what a way to start the year, new single, new band, your largest Australian tour… Looks like everything’s coming up Mathas-house, huh? Yeah, I suppose so. After finally getting Armwrestling Atlas out into the world and being able to move on, it’s been a very refreshing couple of months. I cleaned up my studio and started writing again for the first time in about two years, vowed to myself to start using instruments too and move away from the computer a bit. I’m also super excited about the potential of where we can go live with this band… they’re all such great players that we could really go anywhere.
So after a long process of finishing Armwrestling Atlas, you wrote Bravo Troll. How did it feel to create something new after such a long and invested project? I wrote it on an old wooden organ that my friend John Macliver gave me many years ago. I’d been staring at the thing for years saying “one day I’m gonna make an actual song on that,” and I finally did! It’s been great for my brain. Trying to finish Armwrestling Atlas was very insular and exhausting so the ease by which this song came about and was seen through to completion has given me faith in moving forwards.
Please share some of the meaning behind Bravo Troll and the inspiration behind the song? The song draws a link between the modern internet troll and the menacing character in storybooks. In particular the one from the story Three Billy Goats Gruff who pops up and tries to prevent the goats from getting to the green grass on the other side. The song touches on the modern realities of throwing your art into the public forum. The inspiration for writing it came from watching my friends deal with this on a daily basis. Particularly famous friends, women in general and members of minority groups.
As someone who is involved in the hip-hop scene in Perth and cares deeply for the Indigenous Australian community, how did you feel about Beni Bjah’s success at the recent WAMSOTY awards? Super happy for the dude! It’s a brutally honest, big song with a heavy message. The kind of song that this music is intended for. Real, raw songwriting. It’s really time voices like his are getting heard and it’s an exciting time in Australia watching it happen.
How are you finding sharing your usual solo stage with a live band? Will they join you on the SOTA stage this year for WA Day, and what/who can we expect from that show? Oh man… the synergy between us is amazing. The shows have been great, the travelling has been hilarious and it keeps getting better. I’ve wanted a band behind me for so long… being by yourself on stage for 10 or so years does get tiring. The players are John Brown on bass, Bryn Stanford on drums and Dan Carroll on computers/guitar/backing vocals… some of the best players in the state so ya know.
Speaking of SOTA… Which three acts are you most looking forward to seeing on the day and why?
– Luke Dux – because the guy shreds. He’s one of our best shredders.
– Ta-ku – I haven’t seen him do his thing live since about 2009… so I’m excited to see what it entails.
– The Merindas – I’ve never seen these ladies do their thing before and I dig Motown.
You have a strong history in collaborating with great WA talent, including Abbe May, Empty, Ylem, Mei Saraswati and more – what other WA artists do you have your eye on as acts to look out for, and why? My favourites in Perth at the moment are Bison Low Legs (seriously cool instrumental beat-exploration three piece), Benjamin Witt (elaborate and washy clever guitar noodling) and Joni in The Moon (one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen in my life).
You recently spoke at our first installment of the Music Industry Sundowner Series 2016. Please give us a recap of what you shared, and some hot tips for BIGSOUND applications? I was really just trying to drill into people’s heads that you have to go prepared and know what you’re looking for. Pick one area of focus that you want to see an outcome from and aim at that. Also just doing your research on all the delegates and queuing up meetings well in advance so you get in before they get swamped. It’s also important to make time for conference stuff so take some of the pressure off your showcase performance and go learn some shit.
How has WAM helped your career? WAM have been really good to me over time. Aside from winning WAM SOTY in 2013 which is an obviously good thing to put on your press-releases/bio, they’ve been a supremely supportive group and almost act as a publicity engine for Perth music. So if you put effort into your music and it sees a little success, they’ll be behind you in helping to get the word out.
What’s happening for you in the near future? Any new projects coming up post-tour? Or will it be naptime? I’m finishing up a new EP by the end of the year called Gripes With The Human Mind. Luckily we received grant money from both DCA and Australia Council for the current tour and for the production of this release! I’ll also be playing and doing workshops at the Denmark Festival of Voice, and Diger Rokwell and I are gonna go hide away for a week down south and write a body of work together.
Mathas ‘Trolling Australia’ Tour w/ Diger Rokwell & more – Friday 20 May, Amplifier Bar, Perth
State Of The Art Festival – Monday 6 June, Elizabeth Quay, Perth