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Today Oakland artist Mahawam announces a new EP, Hot Pressed, (out April 19) and shares new single/video “Hitherto.”

Some words from Mahawam about “Hitherto”:

“”Hitherto” is a breakup song about leaving yourself.

I wanted to paint writhing out of old skins as a soft, euphoric experience. At 31 I’m beginning to feel filled in. I can look down the small mountain of my life at plateaus of defeated smallness, vacillating to obliviously inflated confidence and back, as not simply painful but important steps toward the peace I try to carry with me today. In this way, the song helps to inform my concept of ancestry.

We imagine hundreds of kind, loving spirits looking favorably upon us from the ether when we think of ancestors. But if even dead versions of ourselves can be bad and broken, surely some of our great grands were lost and worse too. I feel like it’s only recently that my wings have dried enough to be a useful ancestor to a subsequent version of myself, let alone somebody else.

In the song I’m speaking to a part of me that maybe just squeaked by, or is taking its final breaths, after an inevitable and volatile wave of self-evaluation. I’m alone in the world but I’m strong, firm. The words came very quickly, all at once. I wanted to start the record with that sentiment and it didn’t feel necessary to dress it up. There’s something about it that makes me feel like I was onto something that would spoil if chased. There were a few attempts to build out or polish the idea, but nothing felt as good as the rough, so what you hear on the record is that initial demo.” –Mahawam

Mahawam is the recording and performance outlet for Oakland based musician, songwriter, and producer Malik Mays. Their work combs the borders and unexplored terrain of self and other, with themes of discovery, reclamation, and purpose. Mahawam’s output speaks to the spirit of curiosity joyously persevering in the margins, specifically that of queer persons in Black America and other previously or currently colonized communities, as it resists forces that challenge the human need for autonomy to decide boundaries and create peace.

“Hot Pressed isn’t a concept record, but the songs are collectively about choice and getting out of your own way. They came about at a time when I was beginning to learn what I want, not just do what I must.

There’s been talk about queers undergoing a second-adolescence later in life because of the limitations placed around their identities as youths. I feel similarly, but it’s more like a kid who grew up too fast learning to be an adult the right way. Parts of this record speak directly to that process of figuring out who you are again after a long period of being certain.

Self-definition is hard fought and the idea that you may have to release something you would have died to protect is difficult to reconcile. But age reveals how much of you is you, and the surprise for me around 30 is that the answer was “not much.” At times it feels like I’m living life from one place with my feelings and desires in a box somewhere else.

These songs came about as I opened that box, unpacking control of the flow of my life and its capacity for growth. The songs touch on softness during introspection, rejection, the power in choosing yourself, play, and the wisdom in negative emotions. They’re little distillations of my experiences learning to leave instead of cope, to think nothing instead of thinking poorly, and of using peace to rest instead of planning for future conflict.

I generated a couple dozen bits and ideas, which gelled into somewhere around 10 songs. Speckled throughout the process, contributions from guitarist Derek Barber, multi-instrumentalist Natalyn Daniels, and co-producer and mix engineer Aki Ehara did a lot to focus the record’s sound, and opened me up to collaboration, which I’d largely avoided previously. I then pared that pool to six tracks that, five of which you hear on the release.” –Mahawam

Hot Pressed
(Molly House)
April 19, 2024
Pre-order it HERE

Track List:

Did U Kno
I Killed A Hesher Once
Hot Pressed
Lizard Brain


Official Site