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Interview with Perth rapper Mathas ahead of his Melbourne show this Saturday

09 Nov 2015 spotlight words by Terence Ill
Interview with Perth rapper Mathas ahead of his Melbourne show this Saturday

Mathas is hitting the road to launch his highly praised album 'Armwrestling Atlas'. We wanted to get to know the man a bit better ahead of his Melbourne show this Saturday at Shebeen.

Rolling Stone said in their review of your new album, and I quote, “…Armwrestling Atlas is an impressive achievement.” How does it feel to read that statement about your work, when it comes from someone like Rolling Stone? There has been a lot of praise for your album from a lot of media outlets, but do you feel that coming from Rolling Stone, it validates your work on a different level?

Mathas: Hmm.. I don’t know if I feel a greater level of validation because ultimately it’s always just one voice and one person’s opinion. I suppose the difference with Rolling Stone is the brand. It’s been such a relevant part of my upbringing. I used to have a bit of a ritual growing up where every time I got on a plane to fly over East I’d buy a Rolling Stone. At that time my trips over East were frequent to see my father and other mum. So I suppose it felt pretty resolute.

When people talk about you and your music, they use words like “lyrical”, “deep”, “esoteric”, even “vulnerable”. Are you comfortable in that zone? Do you ever have moments where you wish you could try something completely different, without the risk of disappointing the audience you have earned over the years?

Mathas: I mean, how complimentary are all those words? Even “vulnerable” I think has its own strength. So yes, I’m happy there. Do I wanna make some bangers or some flexing songs about nothing? Yes... and I will. Does it matter if I upset the audience? Likely not. Are there boundaries I won’t cross? Absolutely.

You will soon be playing venues and festivals all over the country on your Armwrestling Atlas Tour. Do you worry about whether a song - or whole album, even - will work live? Does it affect your writing process or choice of production?

Mathas: Some of these songs I’ve been doing live for many years. Performance is ultimately one of my favourite things about this whole music deal. It probably worries me more wondering how a song I’ve been performing on stage for years will translate to a recorded version. Particularly a song that forms a lucid kinship between yourself and your audience mates.

You have your roots in Perth. How did you end up on Big Village Records? Artists signing interstate doesn’t happen all that often in the independent Australian Hip Hop world. Who made the first move to make it happen, you or the Sydney-based label?

Mathas: I first met Rapaport at a cafe I used to work at when he was over in Perth doing a few solo shows. Coincidentally he’d listened to my music the day before. He’s been supportive from the get-go and when I bumped into him again over East, he offered to help put the album out. He’s a good man.

The video clip to Stone Cold Sober is amazing. One of those clips that takes you places. How much involvement – beyond the obvious - did you have in the making of that clip? Do you try to stay involved at all levels or are you happy to let someone else take control and work their magic?

Mathas: That clip was conceived with my friends Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce who I’ve done a number of projects with over the years. Usually I already have a concept or we brainstorm one and then they help me articulate it. I also did most of the production design for this clip. I bought the boat for $100 off Gumtree, made some landscapes and some of the background animations were mine. Directorial and post-production duties get handled by the other two. There's always a fair amount of compromise and the final product has little bits of all of us in it. We just finished shooting a clip for the song Enforce Less which will come out shortly.



Tour dates in Victoria:

SAT NOV 14th: Shebeen Bandroom

SAT NOV 21st: Panacea Music Festival, Taronga

FRI NOV 27th: The Pier Hotel, Frankston

Buy the album here: