MAMMOTH.’s latest album OPUS MAGNUM is one that will urge repeat listens. The passionate raps serve as a smorgasbord of food-for-thought and a buffet of bars, urging you to indulge in the West Melbourne artist’s introspection. There may be moments that you think you’re full, but before you know it, you’re running it back and running for seconds.
The soliloquies that occur across the project’s 11 tracks were inspired by 2 years of constant Melbourne lockdowns throughout the pandemic. The aftermath found MAMMOTH. cabin-cooped in the rural town of Tanjil Bren, on a quest to escape the city life and find the next level of his creativity. With producer Silentjay joining the journey, the duo used this voluntary isolation to incite an exploration into their humanity, finding insight in the scenery of their emotions, with the towering rainforests and the looming presence of Mount Baw Baw’s crisp air fueling the euphoria of the album’s atmospheric boom-bap. The end result is an ode to defining your opus, filled with the fire of a magnum.
To learn more about the creation of this album, MAMMOTH. joined me on a Zoom call to talk about writing in isolation, taking ownership of your fears, and the power of manifestation.
Congrats on the release of OPUS MAGNUM. How have you been feeling about the reception thus far?
I’ve been pretty amazed by the amount of support it’s getting. It’s been overwhelming in a good way.
This is a particularly revealing album. Was there an added sense of fear going into the release with that in mind?
In a way yeah, because this album is a reflection of my deeper self, and putting it out there tends to make you feel vulnerable. But it also felt right, because I want the people consuming my music to know the real me.
What was it about your life at the time of creating this project that made you want to reveal so much about yourself?
This project was made right after the two-year lockdown here in Melbourne. Silentjay and I were at a point of frustration with the world, so we decided to channel that into the music. It felt like it allowed me to reflect in a deeper way, and translate that into writing.
I’ve read that you guys went out to a remote cabin to create this album. How do you think the isolation fueled your introspection?
Cutting off the rest of the world allowed us to be our most vulnerable selves. All the distractions of life in the city were gone, and we were able to keep the music close to our hearts.
How would you describe the differences between being isolated in the wilderness, compared to the 2 years of isolation in the city you just experienced?
I think isolating yourself in the country really allows you to connect with nature. There’s something different about being able to breathe clean air, and not being smothered in light pollution. Little things like that really helped sparked the inspiration for this album.
As you said, the lack of distractions in that isolated atmosphere allowed you and Silentjay to focus purely on the music. How do you think that affected your collaborative process together?
As soon as we linked up at the cabin, we began making music and would go nonstop every day until we fell asleep. We were getting intricate about what music we were listening to, and talking about how the lockdowns affected us. I feel like this sort of focused, open environment allowed us to create the music we have today.
Do you think approaching your music with this sense of vulnerability changed your opinion on what makes a song good?
It’s a hard one to answer because I think it changes depending on the style of music you want to make. The things that make a radio-friendly pop song good are not the things I would apply to my music. For me, I want all my songs to act like an audio canvas, where you can visualise what I’m conveying simply through listening.
The album starts off in a strong manner with ‘Entirely Merciful’, a track that features powerful lyrics such as “I seek refuge in you from the evil of my own self.” What does the message of this song mean to you?
All of ‘Entirely Merciful’ is based upon passages from the Islamic book. That particular quote is an ode to God. The way I was raised I feel is quite different from that of the hip-hop world. For me, chasing the music dream has a lot of sins that surround the journey. So I always need to remind myself of all of these evils, and I’ve had to seek refuge from them.
On ‘Another Alibi’, you rap about needing to be more courageous. Do you find yourself searching for bravery on this music journey, in order to steer clear of those sins?
I feel like in order to be courageous, you need to be able to live with your fears. A line from that track that I always refer to is “I’m a hostage to my lows.” I feel like I can feed off feeling down, and finding myself with fear.
How do you find hope within your fears?
I feel like there’s light at the end of every tunnel. One thing I speak about a lot on this album is the fact that no matter what we do, we can’t avoid our fears. We have to take ownership of them and find the confidence to speak about them.
Is there a particular song on the project that you feel is exemplary of your growth and reflection?
‘Sheered Sheep’, which is the last track on the album that I’m rapping on. It sums up all of my wins. I’m a strong believer in if you put things out into the world, it will give it back. This track acknowledges that, and features me realising that I know my end goal with this journey and that I know what I’ve been put on this earth to do.
Lastly, my friend, what’s next in your journey?
I’ve been thinking about that. I’m not really sure, it’s hard to see what comes next. I feel like the mindset going into my next body of work is going to be a lot different from OPUS MAGNUM, where I know what I’m capable of and that I’m good at this shit. OPUS MAGNUM showed the world what I can do, and whatever comes next is going to showcase how much more I’m capable of.