The term ‘Aussie hip hop’ has gotten a bad wrap over the decades – these days you’d be hard-pressed to find an artist who readily identifies with the phrase.

But hip hop in Australia has undergone a total re-vamp over the past few years. A cross-pollination of sounds and influences blossomed, changing the way we identify with the genre. From Hilltop Hoods’ Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars: Restrung record featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Chamber Singers Choir, to young’uns like Gill Bates, Mallrat, Barro, Madboots, S.O.X stepping up the pace with an explosion of new stylings, it’s safe to say the game’s changed.

For scene veterans Thundamentals, this makes it exactly the right time to explore new musical scapes. Through the long years of work and determination they seem to have ascended into new territories of their own creation. In order to understand the movement in their sublime work Everyone We Know (out via their newly minted label, High Depth) I spoke to the charming Blue Mountains’ local Jeswon – known as Jesse Ferris to his parents – about what changed.

“I think a real lightbulb moment for us in our career, it felt like [after] the first couple of releases we were still trying to find out who were as people… and we maybe didn’t have that self-confidence to lay all our cards on the table and say ‘This is who we are and what we think,’” he opens.

“When we were starting out we were concerned with… trying to sound like a certain thing. There wasn’t this acceptance in Australian hip hop for it to be as expansive as it is now. Now, its’ in a wonderful place – the spectrum of sound is so wide and there’s room for everyone to just be exactly who they are, which is the coolest thing.”

Ferris suggests that in the early days “on the first few releases, the whole scene wasn’t as evolved or developed. What we thought ‘Aus hip hop’ was, was narrower than it is now. We said ‘Fuck it, we are gonna write love songs’ and kinda be a bit more honest with ourselves – be more confident to push songs like a love song to the forefront and wear it.

“We started to see ourselves as musicians and not just ‘Aus hip hop’. You’ve gotta look and think beyond hip hop and see yourself as a songwriter. When that happened, people really resonated with those love songs and us wearing our hearts on our sleeves a bit more.”

Four albums later and it’s clear that their honest approach to songwriting is working. It was announced that they’re set to play triple j’s One Night Stand in Mount Isa the same morning of our chat, “which is fucking really, really cool man, I always wanted to play a One Night Stand so I’m super pumped,” he enthuses.

The new album was recorded over at Hermitude’s studio in Glebe, giving the group a unique opportunity to take a relaxed approach to the writing process. “It’s actually owned by the guy called Cole Joy who was a big star back in the ‘70s,” he enlightens. “So he was this classic old dude and he owned the studio and he’d come down when we’re doing sessions and just hang out, he’s just a crack up man. He’s like ‘You know what? Normally boys I can’t understand a word that these fuckin’, hip hop people are saying, but I can understand your shit,’” Ferris laughs.

So how does he feel they pulled off this new direction? “I hope that I’m always not 100% happy with everything, because that means I feel like next time I’m gonna get that 1% closer to being happy with it,” Ferris muses. “That’s a driving thing for me, to grow, to become a better artist, a better lyricist, a better songwriter and melody and music all that sort of stuff, I hope it never goes away.”

Thundamentals continue to grow over time, finding new territory to search. “For me these days I prefer like a really good TV series over a movie,” he says decidedly. “A dope movie is dope, but it’s done. The opportunity to develop the characters, the plot, the theme, it feels limited compared to like a Breaking Bad or some shit, where it goes for seasons and seasons, and the nuances and the changes, the characters all that kinda stuff is so rich so satisfying.

“I feel like we’ve been lucky to have that longevity to out career and people have been on board for that journey so much that it feels like we can unfold this story with a bit more time and a bit more depth, instead of just some band that just put out an album and might be dope or whatever, or flops. For us, it’s been this steady build and that narrative has kinda developed over time.”

Narratives are a driving force through the album – Blue Balloons (B.B’s song) is dedicated to a fan who passed away; the album release was accompanied by a touring art exhibition featuring individual surrealist works depicting the ‘characters’ of each song. Themes of human connection and disconnection run rife.

“We’ve never put out anything that we’re unhappy with but… I do genuinely feel like it’s the best record that we’ve ever made,” he states confidently. “I’m very proud of this record, I feel it’s our best record and that’s a great feeling. We started to see ourselves as musicians and not just Aus hip hop… It’s okay to be yourself. The more you own that the more it resonates with people.”

Have a listen to Everyone We Know and decide for yourself – do you hear that narrative? Does it resonate with you? Is it Aussie hip hop, or something else entirely? I guess the only question left is… how the hell do we get to Mount Isa?