True Live

True Live

BandJazzHip Hop


Spontaneous, orchestrated, brilliant, yet unpredictable – True Live are everything their name indicates and so much more. A six-piece band of classically-trained musicians who’ve been blessed with astonishing quantities of talent, the collective have been making their own genre-bending concoction of hip hop, jazz and contemporary beats, ever since RHyNO MC assembled the troupe together from a jam session in 2003.

Comprised of Tamil Rogeon (violin), Thai Matus (keys), Tim Blake (cello), Ivan ‘Choi’ Khatchoyan (drums) Tom Butt (double bass) and Ryan Ritchie aka RHyNO MC (singer/rapper/band leader), True Live simultaneously adhere to a classical music form, whilst challenging conventions with their mixture of textbook sonics and deep contemporary grooves.

True Live’s formation came in typical muso style, with an assemble of 20 musicians gathering together for a jam session run by Elf Tranzporter, founding member of pioneering hip hop outfit Meta Bass ‘n’ Breath. For Ritchie, the standout members were clear, and the band was quickly put together under the working title of ‘True Live Vibe’ with violinist Rogeon suggesting a stunning string section be added to the mix, an aspect that would go on to be the band’s trademark element.

Every member of True Live brings with them an extraordinary amount of talent and vision. While RHyNO MC has completed a 3 year Bachelor of Music Performance in Composition at the VCA and MC’d alongside revered drum ‘n’ bass duo Roni Size and Reprazent, as well as supporting Blackalicious. Fellow VCA alumnus Tamil spent time in New York playing with the city’s finest musicians, whilst classically-trained keyboardist Thai adds a jazz string to the hip hop bow, also fronting renowned pre 73 fusion group 12 Tone Diamonds. Cellist Tim Blake has worked with revered DJ/composer Nitin Sawhney and a prodigious talent on the double bass, Tom has toured since the tender age of 12 also taking time out to mentor talented hip hop-loving youth in the prison system. Rounding up the package is multi-faceted VCA graduate Choi, who is not only part of revered deep funk ensemble Cooking on 3 Burners, but also wrote the theme music for John Safran’s Music Jambouree.

A group whose musical chemistry quickly began bubbling with incredibly energy, True Live began gigging around their hometown of Melbourne regularly playing popular local haunts, The Evelyn and Revolver. In 2005 they issued their debut release, the critically-acclaimed Mintons EP. The first single ‘Question This’ was an undeniable success, garnering rotation from Triple J and the video clip plays on Rage, Channel V and Video Hits.

In March 2006, the band’s growing reputation saw them chosen to play as part of the prestigious closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Federation Square, with their captivating performance seeing the band’s traffic to their myspace site doubling overnight! As well as delivering a scintillating display on-stage with his True Live band mates, Tamil also wrote music for the Games, with his ‘Big Top Hop’ composition wowing the crowd.

Over time, the band has also impressively supported the best in the hip hop biz, playing alongside their idols Roots Manuva and De La Soul in 2006. The group have also toured with Moby and played massive festivals Livid, the Big Day Out, the Meredith Music Festival and the Bangalow Jazz Festival.

All these achievements were a mere prelude to True Live’s greatest triumph, however. In October 2006, their debut long-player ‘The Shape of it’ was released and was to receive the kind adulation only given to a band on the cusp of greatness. Across 12 magnificent tracks, the group set groove, funk and fun on a collision course with ambitious raps, stunning string sections and dynamic arrangements. Far more than just simple rhymes, the album saw the group craft songs of stunning lyrical and instrumental beauty, whilst at the same time develop their own patented universal sounding vibe - one which is removed from being rooted in the traditional Australian hip hop aesthetic. All this combined to ensure ‘The Shape of it’ was to garner incredible critical acclaim across the board.

The album’s lead single ‘TV’ was a particular crowning success, being flogged on radio across Triple J, Nova, the Edge 96.1m, PBS and Triple R among many others, whilst the clip was played on MTV, Channel V, Video Hits and Music Max. Following on from the album, the group went on to complete a massive sell-out national tour across capital cities and regional Australia, entrancing audiences with mesmerising performances and winning over plenty of new fans in the process.

While some bands may prefer to specialise in one sound, the musically ambitious collective of True Live take it a step further, conquering the often disparate areas of hip hop and jazz. Whether dishing up an energetic PA or wafting through your home stereo, their incomparable rhythms are guaranteed to make you bounce!


2005 - Mintons EP
2006 - The Shape of it

- 'Question This'
- 'TV'
- 'Evolution'