Mattmac feels cut off from the world in his new single and video Isolation — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
As the Indigenous Manitoba rapper has always made clear in his music, life seldom takes a straight line from point A to point B. More often, it’s a long, winding road full of obstacles. Isolation encapsulates that messaging perfectly. As an artist in the rural Garden Hill First Nation Reserve, Mattmac found himself struggling.
“I’ve been able to achieve some of my goals and build some demand for my music and skill sets, but the pressure has been building up,” he reflects. “The lack of fundamental resources on my reserve has not only been frustrating and challenging but has made me realize that where I’m from is set up for people to fail. This feeling has left me feeling really isolated. I’m disconnected from the world that is calling upon me, but still doesn’t reach out in a way that helps people who desperately need change.”
While Isolation features a traditional trap production, the lyrics portray a story of hardship and separation. Mattmac’s tale draws the listener in, sharing the weight of the world with them for a moment of respite. Deep 808s and atmospheric ad-libs add to the lingering sense of dread as options start to run dry and the situation becomes make or break.
“What’s really interesting is that so much has changed in the past six months since I wrote Isolation,” he shares. “I’ve been able to find an apartment in Winnipeg, and recently moved in; I was able to go back to Garden Hill a week before I moved, and it was a really emotional time for me. Just thinking about all the struggles and challenges I faced with my family — to think I made it out and I am now starting my own life … It’s really a lot for a kid on the reserve. A kid like me didn’t know if it would be possible.
“I’ve had a lot of support in the last few years, and that has made all the difference,” he continues. “My hope is that more kids can get that kind of support for their dreams and goals. I am still young, but this whole journey has made me start to think and plan about how I can contribute to that change.”
This powerful single is the third preview of Mattmac’s upcoming album Blurred Visions, due soon. Isolation also has its own video, produced by Indigenous filmmaker Skye Spence. “We are working on a digital series of themed videos set to release over the summer,” Mattmac says. “And a documentary film called Feel The World — set to release next year — that takes a closer look at my life over the last few years.”
Mattmac was born blind, and, at a young age, he struggled with depression. Growing up surrounded by music, he quickly found it to be an effective coping mechanism and took to singing in his community’s gospel choir. From there, he started making beats and writing songs, teaching himself to play piano and guitar along the way. He has the support of the Bling & Famous group — a U.S. collective of blind music artists who collaborate and connect with one another through the internet.
Mattmac debuted in 2016 when N’we Jinan, a travelling music studio program, visited his community and invited him to collaborate. Pulling inspiration from his personal story, they created the song Help You See. Mattmac has since connected with Nelly Furtado and performed alongside her at Indigenous Day Live and We Day Canada Day in 2017; they continue to work together.