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SALT 4_MantraMelbourne hip hop lyricist Mantra facilitated an on-stage marriage proposal when he was last in Perth. Whilst his third studio album Telling Scenes is no mushy affair, it certainly is of a quality that will be long lasting. JO CAMPBELL has more.

Mantra aka Rob Tremlett is chilling on a deck overlooking Byron Bay when we catch up on the phone. He’s just finishing off a 20-date national tour with his mates in hip hop arms, Seth Sentry and Grey Ghost. He’s relaxed and enthusiastic as we discuss the second single from the new LP, the darker follow up to first single Loudmouth, entitled Break Tradition.

It’s a narrative-based track dealing with the cycle of violence inspired by Tremlett’s work as a music/youth mentor. The heavy nature of the lyrics is off-set by some soulful vocals provided by Cisco Tavares, who also collaborated with Tremlett on his first LP and was a member in their band, Illzilla.

“I didn’t want it to be ‘the world is fucked, the world is doomed’,” says Tremlett of Break Tradition. “I wanted it to be kind of hopeful because as much as that pattern of repetitious behaviour is often instilled and perpetuated, I have seen it be broken.

“The pattern of violence that’s kind of engrained and social acceptance of violent behaviour is something that I’ve always been disturbed by, but also been very aware of for a long time,” he explains.

“The young people that I work with are often in really messed up situations and I see that on a weekly basis, that kind of behaviour that gets passed down from generation to generation, that comes from the parents or the family and gets instilled in the young person who perpetuates the same bullshit and lives out the exact same things that made them so hardened, aggressive and angry.”

In terms of the LP at large, Tremlett says it hadn’t been a conscious decision to collab on the beats with multiple producers. “That was borne out of necessity, just because there were a bunch of producers I was working with and I liked their sound, plus I was never in a situation where I could lock down one producer and say, ‘right let’s make an album’.”

Telling Scenes is more tightly packaged than his previous LP’s, less adlib with Tremlett taking the director’s role more seriously such as on vocal collaborations, which includes his work with Kylie Auldist on Baby Girl.

“The vocal thing was cool this time because it was a bit more deliberate. I had written a lot of the songs, in the case of Break Tradition and a few others, where I pretty much knew what I wanted the guest vocalist to do and then could just go holler at vocalists that I liked listening to, and who I thought suited the song.

“I’m always open to people coming with their ideas but I think on this album, I was more aware of what I wanted.”

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