Perhaps Shehab Tariq needs to invest in a personal organiser.
Right now the Melbourne-based producer might just be the busiest man in Australian music. Not only is Tariq having to survive the wilds of freshly minted parenthood – his firstborn arrived in December – but he’s busily involved in not one, but two album releases. “It’s a bit difficult. It’s getting a bit hectic,” he says, laughing. “Next time I’ll try and diarise my life a bit better.”
Tariq is better known by his nom de musique of Paso Bionic, and over the past decade has acted as a producer and turntablist for Melbourne hip hop heavyweights, TZU. The collective have a new full length release scheduled in the next couple of months, but right now Tariq has more pressing concerns: an album he recorded with his wife, Carolyn. “It’s been three years since TZU took a break and my musical life quietened down quite a bit,” Tariq continues, “and in that time I met Carolyn and we got married and had a baby. All of a sudden it’s all gone crazy again, and it’s harder now having a wife and a kid. You just have to adjust to it.”
The Tariqs have come together as Audego and channelled their mutual love of beat music into ‘Abominable Galaxy’, an album of slow-burning, bass-riven beats and Carolyn’s astral-flavoured vocals. “We’re into a lot of bass music that’s coming out at the moment – the wonky side of things,” Tariq says. “And we wanted to go in that direction with the production. With the vocals, Carolyn was trying something different to what she used to do, which is adding lots of harmony layers. In that respect, I think we achieved what we set out to do.”
So, what’s it like working with your wife on an album? “We weren’t sure how in the beginning it was going to work out, because I find that collaborations can be a bit tricky. I’m a studio guy and I don’t play any instruments – it’s all sample-based – I find it quite difficult to collaborate,” Tariq says. “It’s hard. But we thought we’d take it one step at a time and see how it goes.
“The first track we did together, I came up with the beat and Carolyn put the vocals on top – and that happened really quickly and easily – but the majority of the tracks she recorded her vocals and gave me an a cappella, and I built around that. So that was a pretty different way of working for me, and I found it worked really well. She would record during the day and then I would come home and do my parts on it, and we’d just go backwards and forwards. But yeah, it turned out a lot easier and more fun than I thought it would be.”
The results are both stunning and distinctive. This is music unlike anything else you’ll hear, immediate comparisons to Portishead and ‘Mezzanine’-era Massive Attack falling away upon consecutive listens as you come to understand the tunes in more detail.
“Carolyn was listening to a lot of older stuff like the Andrews Sisters,” Tariq explains. “That’s what influenced her to get more into the harmonies that you hear in the background of the tracks. But we were also both listening to lots of the big bass and wonky beats that are coming up from the underground at the moment. Like Flying Lotus and that whole LA beats scene, and even in Melbourne there’s a pretty healthy beats scene – people like Galapagoose and the //This Thing// collective. We’ve just been getting into all that kind of stuff.”
Now, the feverish activity that follows an album release begins as Audego look to take their shtick on the road for a short run of east coast dates. Getting a chance to witness some of these tunes live is an exciting prospect, but Tariq thinks of Audego as being more in the realm of the studio and admits that he’s struggled with converting the tunes in the live environment.
“Because it’s all studio-based stuff and I don’t play anything, it can be hard figuring out what the hell I’m going to do live,” he says with a laugh, “which is kind of why we got the visuals involved. Luckily, Carolyn’s there to look at, so people aren’t just staring at me bobbing my head the whole time! It was tricky, but I’m doing a bit of live dropping samples on the turntable and then just playing samples in on the pads. But Carolyn and the visuals will make up for my lack of excitement.”
AUDEGO PLAY ALLONEWORD FRIDAY JUNE 15. ‘ABOMINABLE GALAXY’ IS OUT NOW.