Melbourne based MC Mantra has been building some buzz lately, with his upcoming album Telling Scenes bound to be chock full of great tunes, at least based on his previous single ‘Loudmouth’ (above), which gained him accolades and fans across the the board. With his new single just released (below), we had a chat with him, in the hopes of understanding what makes this talented lad tick…
Who is in your CD player at the moment?
At the moment I can’t stop listening to K’Naan. I’ve been a fan for years but I just revisited his first album The Dusty Foot Philosopher and it has been a huge source of inspiration lately.
Favourite ‘Up & Coming’ artist?
Dylan Joel is the kid I’m checking for right now. Dude is fresh, has a really good attitude towards life and music and really knows how to present his music well. He’s no frills and no bullshit and I really like that.
At what age did you fall in love with old lady hip hop?
Hip-Hop and I flirted for a long time before we fell in love. I was introduced to Public Enemy when I was like 6 and I loved them. I still do. From then on I was always a big fan of Hip-Hop but it wasn’t until my teen years that I really fell in love with it. I was being introduced to all kinds of new artists and though I didn’t know it at the time, it was changing my life completely.
How did you hook up with ‘Ten To Two Records’?
I met the guys from Ten To Two a few years back now; they were managing my mates Grey Ghost and Seth Sentry. So we became friends and they were always keeping in touch with what I was up to and where I was at with my music. At that time I was working on this current record, which was unsigned. Last year they decided to start up their own label, having already facilitated a bunch of successful independent releases, and when they got it up and running they came and spoke to me. I had a lot of faith in them as a team and they were so passionate about my music, it just felt right to sign with them.
You have worked with Grey Ghost previously. It is obviously a successful partnership, what kind of dynamic do you two share?
The Ghost is one of my closest friends and has been for years. We met cos the bands we used to perform with did a gig together. Music was always our strongest link so we’ve written songs together the whole time we’ve known each other. It’s definitely the most productive collaboration process I’ve been a part of and has grown to include not just music but artwork, video production and education/community development projects.
Its been said that you are quite proficient when it comes to producing, how much of a hand do you have in the back-end of making your music? Is it hard to give away control at this stage of the process?
I like to work pretty closely with the producers on my records but I try not to be too precious about stuff. I put a lot of trust in the people I work with so if someone brings an idea to the table I’m always happy to hear it. That said, I usually have a pretty strong idea of what I’m looking for in a particular song so I like to work with the producer to make it happen.
What sets Telling Scenes apart from your previous work?
I’ve definitely gone to some new places with Telling Scenes. The stories on the album are a lot more personal, more honest. I don’t think it was a conscious decision, but the whole album is really reflective. Musically I cover some new ground too, there are songs I wrote from the ground up. There are songs where I sing. I was also writing melodies and parts for musicians and guest vocalists. These are all things I never felt very confident about doing but I had a great time challenging myself this time around.
When you put so much of yourself into your work, does it get any easier on the nerves come release date having had a few release under your belt?
I think you get more used to the emotions that come with releasing an album each time you do it. But I think each release is different and comes with it’s own set of ups and downs, triumphs and hurdles. Each record I’ve released has given me some of the most joyous, jubilant moments of my life but also some of the hardest. When you’re the only one making an album happen – funding it, writing it, producing it, recording it, mixing it – it can really take its toll on you. But at the end of the day you can say – I did that. That’s mine.
In the distant future when you hang up your ‘boots’ what do you want to be remembered for?
I’ve never really though about it to be honest. To be remembered at all would be a fine thing. A lot of amazing artists and people aren’t remembered for anything they do. But I guess if I could be remembered for something I would like it to be that I made some kind of difference with the art I made. A positive difference, whether to a person, a group of people, a genre, whatever. That I made something change.
Can you give some information on the when you will be unleashing your own Headlining Tour?
I’ll be announcing all the info for my album tour on Friday August 9. All details will be up on my website mantraemcee.com and my social media pages.
What does the next 6 months have in-store for you?
I’ll be touring flat out til November. I’m currently on the road with Seth Sentry for his Vacation tour. That ends in late September at which time my album tour kicks off. So after that I imagine I might need a nap but summer is promising to be quite busy so I’ll see how I go.?
MANTRA TELLING SCENES
ALBUM LAUNCH TOUR
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2013
GREY GHOST will be joining MANTRA in WA, QLD & SA
TICKETS ON SALE THURSDAY 15 AUGUST, 9AM
THURSDAY 19 SEP – FLYRITE, PERTH – 18+
FRIDAY 20 SEP – MOJO’s, FREMANTLE – 18+
THURSDAY 3 OCT – GREAT NORTHERN, NEWCASTLE – 18+ *
FRIDAY 4 OCT – ANNANDALE HOTEL, SYDNEY – 18+ *
SATURDAY 5 OCT – BEACHCOMBER, TOUKLEY – 18+ *
FRIDAY 11 OCT – THE EVELYN, MELBOURNE – 18+ *
THURSDAY 17 OCT – TEMPO HOTEL, BRISBANE – 18+
SAT 19 OCT – SOL BAR, MAROOCHYDORE – 18+
SAT 26 OCT – ED CASTLE, ADELAIDE – 18+
* Grey Ghost not appearing
All ticket and show details available from www.mantraemcee.com
TELLING SCENES Track Listing:
1. Scene One (Introduction)
2. Learn Your Language
3. Energy Feat. Grey Ghost & Promoe
4. The Fear
5. Quicksilver Feat. Simone Page Jones
7. Telling Scenes
8. Baba Feat. Alia Gabres (Interlude)
9. Baby Girl Feat. Kylie Auldist
10. Break Tradition Feat. Cisco Tavares
11. Who’s Your Favourite Rapper (Skit)
12. Perfect Crime Feat. louis logic
13. Dr. Trembath Meets Professor Von Horn (Skit)
14. The Experiment Feat. Tom Thum
16. As The Sun Goes Down