Meet Muka Vhatti, the Perth local who just took home Unisounds’ 2019 prize

Last Thursday the annual Unisounds live show went down at the Vic on the Park in Sydney. The night saw performances from a selection of six finalists, whittled down from an original shortlist of 26.

Muka Vhatti was crowned winner as the gig drew to a close, officially the 2019 Unisounds champion. The next day he dropped into Happy to introduce himself, tell us a little about his crew in Perth, and educate us on the blessings of ‘ocean trap’.

muka vhatti
Photo: Brendan Cecich

Introduce yourself to Muka Vhatti, the Perth-based ‘ocean trap’ artist who was just crowned prince of Unisounds 2019.

HAPPY: First things first, congratulations on the win. How was the show?

MUKA VHATTI: The show last night? It was good man, a real energy. A had a few boys come out so that was really good.

HAPPY: From Perth?

MUKA VHATTI: Locals actually. You know, those other boys.

HAPPY: It was a really diverse lineup I thought, did you run into any other bands you really liked?

MUKA VHATTI: The Tin Knees – I’m still struggling to pronounce their name – and Vallee. They were probably my favourite.

HAPPY: Given that it’s a bit of a showcase, rather than your own show, did you approach the performance any differently?

MUKA VHATTI: I approached it like, I’m here, there’s probably industry people watching, I’m just going to bring out me, you know? Before we had this session with a few of the guys and they were like, at the end of the day you just have to present your own energy and how you feel.

HAPPY: How long was the set?

MUKA VHATTI: 20 minutes.

HAPPY: Nice, you’d really have to make something happen there.

MUKA VHATTI: I’m pretty sure we went over! But…

HAPPY: That never matters. Where did you first hear about Unisounds?

MUKA VHATTI: Unisounds? Back when I was in uni, I was at the pub and I just looked at the wall and there was this little flyer that said Unisounds. That was last year and I entered, but I didn’t get to the finals last year. Then I gave it another shot this year.

HAPPY: When I went and did a bit of research on you, there’s not so much out there about your story. So what’s your story? How long have you been making music?

MUKA VHATTI: Music, I’ve been properly going at it for like, three years. At first I couldn’t write, I couldn’t write even a single bar… I used to ask my sister to write lyrics for me. Then eventually as time went on, I got better and better, and now I’m at the stage where I can write four or five songs in a session.

HAPPY: Sick.

MUKA VHATTI: But yeah, that’s pretty much it.

HAPPY: You’ve been living in Perth for that whole three years?

MUKA VHATTI: Yeah, Perth that whole time. Originally I’m from Africa, Zimbabwe. I moved over here in 2005. Recently we’ve been staying in Melbourne because we’re doing some recording there, but Perth will always be home. Shoutout to 6k, man.

HAPPY: Tell me a bit about ocean trap.

MUKA VHATTI: That’s my whole thing, man. I don’t know why but I really fuck with like, sharks and that. And my whole vibe is wave-y, ocean-y. So ocean trap is a little sub-genre I created for people who ask me ‘what genre are you?’ Ocean trap, you know. It’s music that doesn’t matter, jazz mixed with punk or some shit. I don’t know, it’s whatever I feel like at that moment, that’s it.

HAPPY: It’s very Perth, which I like. It’s a bit of a collective too, am I right?

MUKA VHATTI: Yeah, my boys in Perth, we’re all pretty much the same vibe when it comes to music. It’s big, and there’s a lot of things going on in Perth at the moment. You’ve got Superego… I’m actually inspired a lot by him. Seeing him live, he’s so free up there. It’s like, that’s how to perform.

HAPPY: How did you come into this group of people? These are all people you’ve met in Perth?

MUKA VHATTI: Most of them are just friends I’ve got to know over the years, meeting at places like parties, stuff like that. [DJ] Richmore, that’s my brother, my blood brother. Arno [Faraji], we met when we were pretty young and grew up together. Everyone else, just people I’ve met over the years.

HAPPY: I like what’s happening in Perth recently. It was all about psych rock for so long but recently there’s all these other pockets opening up, like great jazz bands, hip hop as well.

MUKA VHATTI: Hip hop is really starting to boom in Perth, Australia as well. I feel like the world’s really starting to pay attention to Australia.

HAPPY: Definitely. Hip hop in Australia, for me, only really started sounding global in the last five years. Before that it was the really Australian sound with Australian accents. We’ve kind of forgotten about that, thank god.

MUKA VHATTI: (Laughs) Oh yeah. It’s good to keep moving forwards, we gotta keep moving forwards.

HAPPY: On that though, do you think there’s an Australian sound developing once again?

MUKA VHATTI: I feel like as we go on more, we’re going to see more… ‘our sound’. Because hip hop is not just rap now, it’s a lot of melodic stuff as well. And for a lot of the time we are heavily influenced by the scene in the states but yeah, we’re definitely going to start hearing our own sound.

HAPPY: What else have you got coming up?

MUKA VHATTI: I’ve got a single called Thooka coming out, I’m gonna drop that real soon. After that I’ve got another single coming out featuring Arno and Lil Spacely, we’re gonna drop that, and we’re gonna drop my EP. My debut EP.

HAPPY: Big plans.

MUKA VHATTI: Big plans.


Find out more about Unisounds here.