Welcome to the Obscure Orchestra, a curious world
of intricately crafted experimental music, made with
world instruments and rethought everyday objects
— the brainchild of award winner Dr Matt Hsu.
Beginning as Matt’s solo multi-instrumental offbeat tinkerings, Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra has grown to one of Australia’s most respected ensembles. Challenging the pomp and formality of classical orchestras, we are a DIY anti-racist ensemble underpinned by community-minded inclusivity, comprising of 20+ BIPOC, First Nations, disabled, non-binary and trans artists.
Deeply influenced by Nipsey’s fierce independent spirit, work ethic and community advocacy, Matt brought together L-FRESH The LION, Nardean, Mack Ridge, Blaq Carrie, Sachem & SOLCHLD to pay tribute to community leader and hip-hop luminary Nipsey Hussle. Each artist shares lyrical insights exploring the depth of his impact —
highlighting his global influence from Crenshaw to the neighbourhoods of Australia. With an all-star collection of revered Australian hip-hop icons alongside groundbreaking new voices, this track puts front-and-centre diverse artists of First Nations, Indigenous, Sikh, Zimbabwean, Egyptian and Taiwanese backgrounds.
Matt Hsu (he/him) is a Taiwanese-Australian composer and musician based in Meanjin, performing as
Matt Hsu's Obscure Orchestra.
Enamoured with natural sounds, Matt blends world and orchestral instruments with field recordings and everyday objects. As a multi-instrumentalist, he plays over 20 instruments.
Drawing on his cross-cultural upbringing,
Matt creates otherworldly compositions that celebrate difference, inclusivity and liminal spaces between cultures.
Advocacy through music
Matt advocates for marginal communities, using music projects to underscore refugee, immigrant, First Nations and gender issues through artistic collaborations.
Welcome to the
After co-composing and performing in La Boite Theatre Company's
in 2020, Matt gathered his castmates to create
music addressing refugee rights, black lives and racial injustice.
All profits go towards refugees and asylum seeker organisations
to support people in detention or resettling into community.
Working with Imaginary Theatre, Matt Hsu composed the soundtrack to
A Curious Arcade, a tactile 'choose your own adventure'-style theatre installation. Matt intricately crafted over two hours of dynamic music — a 'living soundtrack' responsive to narrative developments, environmental changes and player choices for five distinctive storytelling machines. To capture the adventurous spirit of protagonist Celeste, the 1920s adventure setting, and the magical-realism of artistic director Thom Browning's world building, Matt sought out vintage instrumentation that drew inspiration from 19th and 20th century avant-garde classical music — contributing to an imaginatively executed and beloved Brisbane Festival 2020 experience.
In 2022, Matt won his second Queensland Music Awards for World Music. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his collaborators in Taiwanese, spoke about the Obscure Orchestra community, and highlighted the importance of amplifying marginalised communities.
During Matt's Queensland Music Awards acceptance speech, he took the opportunity to speak about the importance of representation and diversity in music, highlighting the white male homogeneity of Brisbane’s music industry, particularly in behind-the-scenes in leadership positions.
In 2017, Grammy-nominated Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal met in a ramen shop. Quickly becoming friends and musical collaborators. Together they created the piece
Every Step Is A Horizon
, exploring the refugee ordeal — the simultaneously seeking of safe harbour and the aching remembrance of ancestral lands.
The piece features poetry by Tibetan artist-activist Tenzin Tsundue recited by Choegyal, cimbalom by Andre Bonetti, mandolin and vocals by Hannah Ryder, and Matt's signature multi-instrumental arrangements using mbira, accordion. double bass, musical saw, trumpet, kitchen percussion, euphonium and clarinet.
Putting to use his lifelong fascination with natural and
environmental sounds, Matt creates field recordings while
travelling to shape into soundscape pastiche keepsakes.
Welcome To The Neighbourhood: Taiwan
Matt conceived the original Welcome To The Neighbourhood to explore themes of belonging and identity in Australia. In 2021, Matt brought this concept to Taiwan to explore the daulity of his ancestral roots. Working with kindred Taiwanese-Australian musician Cait Lin 凱琳, they brought on hip-hop icons Chunyan 春艷, ILL MO 老莫 and Indigenous-Taiwanese Vita 張芮菲, to capture Taiwan’s freethinking spirit, queer progressivity and vibrant culture.
Co-written with Taiwanese wearable art duo
(also creating the single art) and lo-fi dream pop artist
, with production and composition by Matt. It celebrates creating art without the expectation of fame or reward. Featuring lyrics in English and Taiwanese.
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