One of Australia’s pre-eminent rappers, Tuka has been playing to loyal fans of his hip-hop outfit, Thundamentals, or of his expressive, intimate solo work for over a decade now. See the wordsmith in action at UC Hub, Bruce, 29 November; moshtix.com.au.
1 How did you initially get into rap?
I’ve always been a very visual artist, and I’ve always been very alternative in the way that I never felt I fit into society. I’m dyslexic and a synesthete, which means I feel colour when I hear music. Being dyslexic is very interesting. It’s a very misunderstood disability; it’s made me look at the world very differently to mainstream consciousness, and I guess getting into art and rapping was an extension of that.
2 How is creating your own work a different process to Thundamentals?
The main thing is I open myself up a lot more, I’ve spoken about growing up with DV and the more intimate sides of my love life. I’ve opened up a lot more about my spirituality. I’ve touched on all these things with Thundamentals, but I tend to go a lot deeper with my solo work.
3 What have you learned from your solo performing over the years?
It’s taught me that vulnerability is a powerful thing. You associate it with being weak, but the fact of the matter is that when you show your vulnerabilities and air them out to the world, you have nothing to lose. Exposing myself has made me a lot stronger as a person; I have nothing to hide from.
4 How do your live solo shows differ from when you perform with Thundamentals?
A beautiful thing about doing the solo work is I get to trial and error, and experiment a lot more. I can find out what works, what I resonate with, and can almost recycle it into the work I do with Thundamentals on a larger platform. I’m also not hiding behind a band or a solidified name; it’s my own name and it makes me a little more robust as a performer.
5 Have you spent much time in Canberra over the years?
I probably play two to three shows a year there for the last 10 years. This gig wasn’t even my idea; kids from the uni reached out and organised it. I don’t take that for granted, they spoke and I listened. I’ve travelled all around the country and I like engaging with people from Canberra, they’re very honest, intellectual, and consciously minded, and unfortunately I can’t say that about every region in Australia.
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