Aunty MNGO is a new project from South African born/Melbourne-based artist Samuel Stopforth who is making a unique blend of electro-funk, alt-R&B/soul music that could be likened to a mix between Winston Surfshirt, Genesis Owusu & Mac Miller.
This week Aunty MNGO is giving us a taste of this ornate sound and style with a cruisy funked up treat called “LUV-B1C1: The Brightest Timeline (ELGNCE)” which also comes with news of a whole new EP that he has planned for release in the coming months.
While Aunty MNGO is a solo project, Samuel does work quite closely with his good friend and flatmate Corey Ernsdoerfer, aka Younique, who he cannot praise enough for his skills.
“This song was written back in August 2021 with my producer Corey Ernsdoerfer, who is also my housemate and one of my best friends. He is a solo musician known as Younique, and a chameleonic genius at what he does. He was in a funk wormhole when I met him (hence TBT’s sound), but he can skip across genres in his sleep. I’ve never met anyone who can do what he can do, not to mention the time in which he can do it. He used to be an avid gamer and now he utilises the same speed and accuracy with a mouse, but within a DAW instead of an FPS. Truly the stuff of legends.” – Aunty MNGO
“LUV-B1C1: The Brightest Timeline (ELGNCE)” is a very easy song to enjoy with its funky baseline, sparkling percussions and soothing melodies, but as Samuel reveals below, the meaning behind the song actually comes from quite a dark place…
“Contrary to its sunny and euphoric vibe, this song was born out of a very dark place. I was experiencing peak anxiety from the culmination of Melbourne’s six lockdowns over 18 months. In hindsight, I feel that this song was very much an omen that would go on to signify me pushing out of that mental space and breaking free from the shackles of my depression that had held my heart and mind captive for far too long.
Just before Covid hit, I started what would become the longest relationship of my life so far. Due to the turbulent times that we were all living in, the relationship would bear a similar quality. Although I loved this person very much, it wasn’t enough. In my experience it never is…because no matter how much we love another person we can never in-turn accept their love if we do not first love ourselves and accept ourselves for exactly who we are in the present moment.
A week after this song was written I was diagnosed with ADHD, a subject I had spent 6 years running from.
Do I believe that I have a disorder? No. Do I believe that my brain is broken and in need of fixing? Absolutely not. What I believe is, considering ADHD is inherited 74% of the time (according to the National Institute of Health), I have a certain brain type that is not very well understood brought on by most likely a particular genetic variant. On top of this, we also live in a society where (unless you are a health professional) there is minimal interest or openness towards learning more about neurodiversity.
For reasons like this, most of my learning / work environments have not been very well equipped to cater to my neurodivergent needs, and therefore leverage the skills that came more naturally to me. Instead, I was expected to live up to certain standards, while being in environments that were at odds with my wiring. I was living like Goku, from the animated series Dragon Ball Z, who trains while wearing weighted clothes. The only difference being that I wasn’t aware that my clothes were any different to anyone else’s.
I could still do what was asked of me and get by, I just had to put in a lot more effort than most of my peers to stay focused on the task at hand. I won’t lie, a lot of the time the motivation just straight up wasn’t there. This would be shortly followed by a perpetual feeling of frustration, because I was told that I have so much potential…and if only I could put in more effort, then I could achieve it.
The biggest lesson for me has been the realisation that the “weighted clothes” don’t come from my brain itself (this is what society would have you believe), but rather the environment in which I am placed and the perceptions of me within that environment. The perceptions of others towards me are relevant here, but more so are how I view myself, these are the shackles which hold me back from being all that I can be. Learning about my brain is the biggest gift I have given myself, and has brought about the most meaningful impact and healing on my life.
It seems to me that the prevailing narrative of modern western society in 2022 is that “the world would be a far better place if we all just had the same kind of brain.” We don’t see difference as an asset or strength, when in reality this is what the foundation of evolution is based on.
No one is prepared to make allowances for anyone who thinks differently to them. We reward conformity rather than seeking compromise, mutual exchange, and symbiosis. This is a severe lack of empathy that I feel is systemic and causing a lot of problems worldwide.
I believe a growing trend has emerged among my generation where we will use a diagnosis as a crutch to condemn ourselves to a life of victimhood & apathy, brought on by a deep sense of self-loathing. I think this is where a lot of the stigma for ADHD and other neurodivergent diagnoses come from. We live in a time where people identify with the term “disorder,” instead of embracing this difference as a good thing and using this newfound knowledge of neurodiversity as the reason for pursuing a deeper understanding of self.
This is the message that I want to bring to the culture, and it’s one that I don’t think is being spoken about by many other people, let alone artists. This needs to change! I want to inspire all of my neurodivergent brothers and sisters out there. I want to let them know that there is no reason for you to feel guilt or shame just because you have a different kind of brain to all your friends or co-workers. In fact, it is the very thing that makes you special, so embrace it and the world is yours.
Neuroplasticity is a real thing. Change your perspective, change your life.” – Aunty MNGO
Production, Mixing & Mastering by Corey Ernsdoerfer, aka Younique
Artwork by Brian Hughes, Fergus Kinahan & Samuel Stopforth
Press Photos by Carl Karama & Brian Hughes
Music Video Co-Directed by Dylan Marshall & Samuel Stopforth