Since the release of his latest album A Colour Undone in 2022 and collaborations with some of Australia’s biggest names, Gumbaynggirr rapper Tasman Keith has solidified himself as one of Australia’s most talented and beloved artists.
Known for his unique style of music that incorporates elements of Indigenous Australian culture into his rap lyrics, the Bowraville local is undoubtedly an important inclusion to the Australian music scene.
Not only for his talented tracks, but for his ability to give a unique insight into the issues faced by Indigenous Australians while also giving back to communities amid his success.
Amid his epic performances at Laneway Festival and his participation in Headline Act’s latest initiative, Headline Access, Keith spoke to Rolling Stone Australia about everything from the significance of the Indigenous community in relation to his music, to his passion for mentoring emerging artists and giving back to such communities through initiatives such as Headline Access.
As the official wine partner of Laneway 2023, Headline Access hosted two days of intimate artist and industry-led workshops that aimed to give aspiring artists the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge on navigating the music landscape from some of the biggest names in music.
Much more than just a wine, Headline Acts’ latest initiative, Headline Access, is committed to backing Aussie artists and giving back to the music industry and the fans that support it while celebrating and supporting budding local musicians, something that the “TREAD LIGHT” hitmaker revealed is hugely important to him.
“One thing I love to do is have this sort of conversation, especially given the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years, whether it be from my father, from my Uncles, or from my own journey,” Keith explained of his involvement with Headline Access workshops in Sydney alongside artists such as Slowthai, The Beths and Logic100.
“I feel like I’m quite good at articulating certain things and bringing a new lens to certain subjects with a new perspective, and I feel like it’s on me to share that and to better those around me even if it’s in the smallest way.”
“Rather than seeing myself as a mentor per se, I prefer to think that I’m just expressing myself. And if people can find themselves in that and it helps them, then that’s amazing.”
He continued, “One thing I’ve learned working in communities and doing these things is that I don’t choose if I’m a role model or not. Some people see me in that light, some people don’t. But all I can do is keep talking about my experience and share that.”
“Regardless of music or anything, it’s just a human interaction that I think people are forgetting about the most.”
Having grown up surrounded by musical inspiration, whether it be his community or his father, Australian rap pioneer Wire MC, Keith said his experiences growing up gave him a solid foundation that would eventually build into the success he sees now.
“My father is somebody I take a lot of advice from. And growing up, the main things he said that always stuck with me were to make sure that I’m educated and that I can read very well, to never show people my full hand, and to always keep people guessing.”
“He also told me never to point the finger, to just speak on my experience, and just see if people can relate to that lens.”
Keith went on to explain that maintaining that connection to his community was imperative to his ongoing success and has given him the exciting opportunity to give back.
“Without my community and my family stories, I wouldn’t have the depth and the perspective that I do have,” he said, adding, “As an Indigenous man, whenever I go home I always feel that connection, and naturally, I want to help better the place.”
He continued, “It’s a low socioeconomic environment and there’s nothing there for the teenagers that can help the community uplift and better themselves.”
“So while I don’t go back preaching or anything like that, I am always trying to find ways that I can help lend a hand so people can find how they want to do it.”
“That’s really important to me, I always want to kind of give back to anywhere that I’m at at the moment.”
As for what the future holds for the rapper, he hopes to continue to collaborate with local and international names, having already joined forces with powerhouses such as Midnight Oil and Jessica Mauboy.
“There’s a lot of international artists that I would love to work with. But even here just doing some with more artists in this realm, like bringing in my cousins that rap and collaborating with them in a room that can inspire me to do so many different things.”
“I’m also starting to write the next album back up in Bowraville,” he revealed.
“It’s gonna take me a minute to execute, but it’s gonna be a bunch of singles tours, with a few big features lined up.”
He added, “So I’m really playing the single game and the feature game this year, while also prepping and just getting ready for the next album in the background.”
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