When you think of Aussie Rap your mind instantly goes to the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Baker Boy, Bliss & Eso & Briggs, but there’s one Aussie Rapper that may have escaped your attention, one who over the past few years has made considerable noise here and internationally. I’m talking about Sydney Rapper, Harry Michael AKA Masked Wolf and even if you’ve not heard of his name, you definitely would have heard his music..
Harry’s song Astronaut in the Ocean was one of the biggest hits world-wide in 2021 across all genres and continues to build momentum even today cracking the 1 billion plays on Spotify recently. As soon as you hear Harry’s deep, hypnotic vocals and that distinctive gun slinger guitar sound exploding out of the speakers you will know this song.
Let’s look at some figures.
Youtube Plays: 340 million – increasing by about 1 million weekly
Spotify Plays: 1 billion and counting
I met Harry at his new home on the Gold Coast and we had a chat about his mega hit Astronaut In the Ocean, his past, and his new home studio centred around a brand new set of Genelec Speakers.
MW – I was born in Sydney and always used to come up to the Gold Coast as a kid so I understood the weather and the feel and I just wanted something that was quiet. After the success of Astro I wanted to buy a place and didn’t want to drop a whole heap of cash on a tiny little apartment in Sydney, I wanted to have a house I could call my own and given my partner lived up here the Gold Coast was the easy choice.
Like many music artists Harry didn’t just drop into the scene. In fact he has been in and out of studios for a long time.
MW – Since I was about 13-15 and I’m now 31 so maybe 15-16 years. You can safely say 12 on the go and I’ve always been in some sort of studio.
MW – I was just a salesman, corporate, wearing a suit, getting to work by 9am finishing at 5 or 6. And then just going to a studio or writing music at home doing the side hustle thing. And then in 2019 I wrote Astronaut in the Ocean.
MW – Well 2 years later it did…I call it a bit of a scar face effect…nobody really gave it, (Astronaut In The Ocean) a shot when it first came out but it slowly built and started to snowball then all of a sudden it turned into an avalanche.
MW – Some people think that – it’s just one. What happened was when I got signed to a label in 2021, they had the rights and so they pushed it. There was only the one release and it sat there and over those two years just grew into a hit.
MW – Elektra records under Warner.
MW – I was always with Lucky Entertainment which is in Melbourne, It wasn’t really a label I was signed to, it was more management.
MW – Australia and NZ
MW – Yeah we both wanted to have a local control, it’s home and we know it better than them at the end of the day.
MW – Yeah that was Speed Racer .
MW – Yeah I feel like when you just have songs out and something goes viral, typically 30-50% of people who like that will gravitate to that song as well. Obviously not as much as the hit song but still significant.
MW – No, I really liked the imagery and the title, which I thought could be really cool, but I don’t think anyone really knows, especially when they are an unsigned artist and they don’t have a massive following. I don’t think anyone suspects anything’s going to be a hit. I think if you say something’s going to be a hit then you’re just kinda like saying it just to say it. But for me, I thought it was just a good song – I had another song Night Rider which I though was cooler but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
MW – Yeah, I didn’t even know what Tiktok was when the song came out – no-one I knew in Australia had it. For me it was like a rap song I made which turned into a country rap song that kids loved as well. Everything I didn’t expect to happen, happened.
MW – Yeah that’s what happens when it gets out to millions of listeners. People just like the song and eventually you get the percentages of people that infiltrate your socials and are like this is him…that’s cool.
MW – I think it’s a very bad mind set to try and say I’ve got to do something as popular as this because then you leave yourself up for failure. It’s a very hard thing to do. For me I just wanted to make music that I thought appealed to my insides and what I thought music was all about…which I feel I’ve done but at the end of the day just take each day as it comes, and keep writing the way you used to write.
MW – I’m definitely a rapper first. But I consider myself a very all round artist. Like I can sing if I want. But definitely rap first.
MW – ….which is what I focused on in the last 3 – 4 years. I think Drake really taught me that you could be a rapper but you could also be melodic and have a singing element to you. I think having more ammo in the weapon, or more utilities in the arsenal is always better to have in the music industry.
MW – always beat first.
MW – Tyron Hapi. He’s my producer. He did Astro. He’s done 80-90 % of all my songs. He lives in Melbourne. I’ll just try and gather a storyline from the beat and then I’ll do the chorus after that and then the verses.
MW – I always record my vocal dry no matter what. I just think the more dry it is, the more you can do to it after.
MW – No plugins, just straight from the mic into the DAW.
MW – No- nothing. The only time that happens is when I go to Studio 301 in Sydney. I’ve worked with Simon Cohen for years and he has a preset vocal chain for me, but even in that case it’s very light. I’m just a firm believer that if you get a good raw take you can do whatever you want to do.
MW – Yeah I do, the Telefunken ELAM 251 which I’ve been contemplating getting but after watching Billie Eilish documentary with her recording hit songs off a $1300 mic I thought do I really need to….Astro was on the ELAM though.
MW – Simon does everything to do with the vocal. And Ty does any touch ups and background vocals.
MW – a few reasons – My Producer Ty uses them and he said they are the most unreal things he’s ever used. He did not expect the sound that came out of them and he’s a bit of a sound freak – as soon as he said that I was set on the Genelecs. I was already looking at them and had a connection with Klaus Heavyweight Hill and he was like mate if you’re going to spend anywhere close to that money you might as well get Genelec’s because you’re doing yourself harm if you don’t. So I’m very keen to connect them in and put some hiphop through them.
I’ve used Klaus to master my tracks right from the beginning. I was introduced by my manager Jae and Lucky Ent…they recommended him. Klaus is the person who first told me about Genelec and he recommended the speakers. He’s been with me from day one, making me sound listenable. Klaus uses a set of Genelec 8351As.
MW – I did a lot of research – not so much on how GLM works, which I’m keen to try out, but I just looked at the best studio monitors of 2022 and the small Genelec 8020 speakers kept coming up. I’m like if everyone’s raving about these, I can’t wait to get the bigger ones. I now have the 8331 A “The ONES”
Harry is currently working on a full length Masked Wolf Album for Electra Records. Keep an eye for this in 2023.