“I wanted to feel like what I was doing was completely natural and organic the whole way through,” Masked Wolf—Harry Michael—tells Apple Music about his debut mixtape. “None of the songs were forced, none of the songs were lies, everything I say is really what I’m feeling. That, to me, makes the project easy to sit with, because I know that I spoke about me and what I wanted to speak about.” The Sydney-born hip-hop artist has been releasing music since 2018, but it was the sleeper hit “Astronaut in the Ocean” that catapulted him into the global spotlight after going viral on TikTok, more than a year after its release. Fueled by that momentum, he’s now ready to introduce his full self to the world through the diverse, truthful Astronomical—there are deeply personal tracks, hard-hitting hip-hop with US and UK musical influences, rock riffs, and introspective sung melodies. He considers the studio to be his “true habitat,” where he’s most comfortable with expressing himself and sharing his story. “If you’re an artist and you’re putting a project out, you’re saying, ‘I’m giving this my all,’” he says. “It’s not just a bunch of songs. It’s not ‘just’ anything. I want people to know that this has 100% of me in it. It’s the first revealing behind the curtains of Masked Wolf, on a project-based level. So, I treated it like it was my last opportunity to do that.” Below, Michael sheds more light on some of the highlights throughout Astronomical.
“Astronomical” “I feel like an intro to any project really sets the tone. I wanted the intro to be very progressive—to start slow, build up, and then come in with a bit of a bang. For me, making the intro was one of the most fun parts, because it’s very musical, with a lot of different elements: space vibes, the heavy rap. But it’s just me talking about feeling like I’m astronomical, feeling like I’m finally heading towards my peak and knowing my path.”
“Pandemonium” “It’s easily my favorite song on the mixtape. It’s that alternative rock-rap style, it’s really versatile. It’s very Jaden Smith’s ‘Watch Me’ meets MGK meets Joyner Lucas—it’s got that edge to it. It’s different and unique and it’s really just about how I thrive in the pandemonium of things. I love how I’m learning that, in life, you need to relish the hard times. When the pandemonium comes around, you need to embrace it rather than fear it.”
“Just Names” “It’s basically talking about me not being affected by the people who want to hit me up now because I’ve got some songs out. They’re just names. I’m not really swaying for the fame or swaying for popularity.”
“Reflections” “It’s a more lyrical song. It’s a really emotional rap, no chorus, just me talking about my life: where I started, where I’ve come from, what I’ve felt, what I’m really thinking—just a let-it-out type rap. Everything doesn’t have to be verse-chorus-verse; it’s just a song where I’m rapping and I want people to listen through it all.”
“Paper Planes” “It’s the most emotional track on the mixtape. It’s about the times where I’d thought I was really worth nothing and how, in those times where I felt so much pain, the only way I’d really dodge that pain was by sleeping, because I wouldn’t feel anything. I’m just singing about how I was during my darkest moments.”