Hip hop professors Astronomy Class have joined the stellar line-up of Australian and international talent at this year’s Manifest.
Shannon Kennedy aka MC Ozi Batla is keen to head north. “We haven’t played up in Queensland for ages,” Shannon says, “so we could probably do a set from five years ago and no one would have heard it.
"But for our own benefit we like to change it up a bit. We should be nice and tight because we have a gig every weekend for a couple weeks before Manifest.
“We’re really looking forward to it. We had a few festivals last year and I’ve just been looking at the [Manifest 2016] line-up and there’s a few of our mates’ bands and some bands we really like playing on it, so yeah we’re really looking forward to it.”
Shannon and his fellow Astronomy Class scholars Chasm and Sir Robbo will be a dominating force at the festival in September, performing both group and solo sets respectively. “We’ll be all over the place on the Saturday,” Shannon says.
“I’m doing a solo Ozi Batla set, and Chasm and Sir Robbo are doing a DJ set later on as well, so people will probably be sick of us by early Sunday morning,” he laughs.
“Usually we’ll just have a get-together and come up with some new ideas, just to keep it fresh for ourselves. Things always fuck up that didn’t in rehearsal, so the only way to figure that stuff out is to go play and make those mistakes in front of a smaller audience before you play to 1,000 people.”
Astronomy Class released their last album, ‘Mekong Delta Sunrise’, in 2014 and for fans awaiting their next release, Shannon says although they're working on new material, they’ve been taking their time to get it right. “We’ve been working on a few songs we’re just kicking around, but we’re not putting a deadline at the moment, we’re just working on the songs as they happen.
"We’ve got a few band members in different places, so we’re working on some songs and we’ll see where it takes us. There’s quite a big gap between our records because we kind of muck around with different songs until there’s a core idea that will then form a basis for the album, sonically or where we’re picking the samples from: we’re in that process at the moment.”
As Ozi Batla, Shannon is true to his namesake, using his finely-spun rhymes to battle cultural stereotypes and racist attitudes in Australian society, which he says are rapidly being normalised. “I think we’re at a very dangerous point now,” he says.
“The entrenched racism against indigenous people is shocking to see and it seems to have become the norm. Then the Islam[aphobia] stuff is just appalling as far as I’m concerned. We’ve shifted so far to the Right that what should be seen as extreme, Right-wing views are being taken as the norm.
“For bans on a certain group of people or religion, bans on building places of worship: for that stuff to even be considered as part of a rational debate about race and multiculturalism in Australian society is pretty shocking. I think we’ve shifted so far to the Right that those attitudes have been normalised.”Astronomy Class play Manifest 2016 at Cherrabah Resort, Warwick 23-25 September.