Opus Opalus

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With a last name starting with ‘W’ I always thought being at the end of the roll was a curse, but maybe being ‘lucky last’ all the time wasn’t such a bad thing. After all, there’s no way I could have scored multi-faceted Brisbane artist, Hannah Macklin, as my singing teacher without a bucket-load of good fortune. 

Every Tuesday afternoon my classmates and I would race to the singing room, betting on how Hannah could possibly have mixed up her style from the previous week. Sometimes she had green hair, other times a radical new tattoo, bold earrings or just some really funky purple stockings.

Every other week the budding artist would play us a fresh single as we huddled on the carpet with our eyes closed, soaking in her musical genius. My ten-year-old self was acutely unaware that my ears were being blessed with the humble beginnings of Hannah’s R&B electronic pop band, MKO Sun.

Eventually, she had to abandon her role as the best singing teacher on the planet to pursue her own professional music career, which ended up being a very good idea. Hannah’s success sky-rocketed and she landed among the stars as her band’s popularity grew with every new release. MKO Sun’s inimitable sound resembles an intergalactic experience unlike anything Brisbane’s music scene has ever experienced.

The riveting three-piece that constitutes the band includes Myka Wallace on drums and samples, Steele Chabau on bass and synths and Macklin herself on vocals and keys. The threesome recently released their third seven-track EP, Opus Opalus.

The intriguing name of the album stems from the origins of the two words. Opus refers to a collection of compositions while Opalus is Latin for opal, the birthstone of Macklin’s late father. His passing significantly influenced the new EP as Macklin learnt to cope with her grief by pouring her conflicting emotions into her song-writing. Formed in the concrete jungle of New York City, Opus Opalus is comprised of seven sincere songs which evoke a diverse range of emotive responses, from melancholic nostalgia to bliss.

Black Seaweed is the third track on the album, and by far the most addictive. Accompanied by delicate vocals, the vulnerable melody flows as smoothly as running water and, in Hannah’s words, is “about opening up; sharing the bad feelings, so they don’t eat you from inside.”

The previous song, Michiko, begins with a deceivingly soothing combination of piano and sweet vox before jumping into cutting-edge bass, creating a strong juxtaposition which takes listeners by surprise. The song chops between the two tones more frequently than Macklin changes her appearance, and revolves around the heavier concepts of “battle, perspective and gratitude.”

Another heavy topic that needs to be addressed is being a woman in the music industry. Whether you’re on the stage or in the mosh pit, being a female in the music scene comes hand in hand with a narrative of hidden misogyny. It’s not just about the physical harassment and assault that goes on when the lights dim, but also the concept of silence and erasure. Just think of all the hit tracks that we never got to hear just because the lead singer or songwriter was female. Oh wait, you can’t, because they were never released!

Luckily for us, MKO Sun managed to shun the unrelenting message that girls just aren’t good enough to grab the spotlight. I couldn’t manage to get a hold of Hannah for an interview, so please enjoy Black Seaweed instead:

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