Interview: Tasman Keith Brings The Bowraville Energy To His ‘Mission Famous’ EP
His tour is wrapping up in Sydney soon.
Music 5m

Words by Christopher Kevin Au //

On the front cover of Tasman Keith’s new Mission Famous EP is a Bowraville sign sitting front and centre, alongside a lively collage of images; of family, street signs, childhood homes and memories from the past.

It’s a fitting cover given Tasman’s focus on his heritage and history, and the unwavering sense of community pride that drenches all of his output. The rousing ‘My Pelopolees’ – the lead single from Mission Famous – uses Bowraville slang in a homage to his grandfather, uncle and the Indigenous spirit; and the remainder of Mission Famous gives us a further insight into the small New South Wales town.

Tasman’s Mission Famous tour is coming to a close in Sydney come November 23, where he’ll perform alongside Kobie Dee, Jannah Beth and Sonboy. Ahead of the show, we chat to Tasman Keith about his roots, the creative process behind Mission Famous, and moonwalking:

Much of your EP focuses on growing up in Bowraville. What was it like growing up there, and what are some of your favorite memories from there?

A lot of my years growing up were spent between Bowraville and Sydney, I feel that the balance of these two landscapes gave me a sight outside of my community and constantly wanting to better it in any way. Growing up in Bowraville is really a mix, its a beautiful town filled with a family vibe but at the same time it lacks opportunity, as you get older you notice these things. My favourite memories are hard to narrow down, but swimming at the river with a bunch of cousins, going to parties in paddocks, playing for the Bowraville Tigers (Shout out Greg Inglis, he should listen to the EP) and playing guns up the mish after the ‘Back To Bowra’ Festival was always mad. Plus a heap of young dumb shit that bored kids get up to.

The single ‘My Pelopolees’ was inspired by your uncle and grandfather. How do you go about channeling their energy into your own song?

It’s really something that constantly stays with me, the energy of my people. Without our shared experiences and stories I wouldn’t have much to say, so its always only right that I channel that spirit whether I’m performing or recording.

Tell us about your relationship with Mission Famous producers James Mangohig and Nooky?

Both my big brothers. Nooky has put me in good positions by having me as his hype man in the early days, which I’ll always respect him for. James pushes my creativity and is always there if I need guidance with anything, music or not. These relationships have been built over the past few years which is why you can hear that connection throughout the entire EP.

Do you share Nooky’s love of professional wrestling? Do you think you could beat Nooky in a WWF ladder match for the heavyweight title?

I don’t think anyone can love wrestling as much as Nook, haha. We are more of a tag team, ‘My Pelopolees’ is the best example of that. We on some DX. But! Rey Mysterio was my shit, so if I gotta take the big cuzn on for the title, easy done.

Your father, Wire MC is also a prominent Indigenous rapper. How did he affect your approach to hip-hop and life generally?

I’ve always said that growing up I thought everyone’s father rapped, all of the things he was doing and continues to do is just things that I viewed as normal. So throughout my life, it was passed down to me naturally. I think just being a witness to the moves he would make had an influence on me.

One of the things your dad is passionate about is the idea of “community obligation”. How do you share those same values through your art?

Again, it’s just knowing who I am speaking for and always putting on for the people that are a massive part of my story. I know I can create opportunity and give my community something to look to, so I use that as much as I can. Whether that be getting them in film clips, having them record samples or making them apart of the live show… Always bringing them with me.

We also heard that you used to bust out the moonwalk for your school talent quest. Can you still do it today?

Yup, 100%. Best MJ moves in the game, quote me on that.

What other upcoming Australian artists are you feeling at the moment?

I’ve really been rockin’ with Kobie Dee, he has been doing a few of the tour shows with me and his talent and art of storytelling is crazy.

You’ll be bringing the Mission Famous tour to Sydney soon. What can we expect from your live show?

I pride myself on bringing energy and my story to the stage, Sydney is the last stop of the tour so a few surprises will be thrown in the set. It’s only right we finish the Mission Famous tour off on a high note.

What’s on the cards for Tasman Keith in 2019?

A mixtape, EP and start working on the debut album, plus a bunch of shows.

November 8, 2018
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