Powerful vocalists have always been a force to reckon with. Meg Mac, rising singer-songwriter out of Australia, is without a doubt one of these forces. Opinionated lyrics and soulful vocals that carry wisdom beyond her 24 years of age are hard to ignore. Certainly, the world is starting to take note.
Her first EP, self-titled, is releasing worldwide on Tuesday, March 24 after its Australian debut last year. Coming hot off a successful and packed SXSW tour, this lady is supporting another Australian band, Clean Bandit -- tour dates below.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview this lady. The demure nature of her speaking voice is immediately striking against the soulful singing voice she emits so effortlessly. Thoughtful and open while retaining levity about her, Meg Mac talked about her experiences in music thus far, delved into details about her EP, and even postcards she's sending to fans. Spoiler alert: she's working on a full-length album as well -- fingers crossed that drops this year. Read below for words from the artist herself.
How did you begin your foray into music?
I grew up listening to lots of music at home and I really loved singing - I’m pretty obsessed with it. I had piano lessons but I didn’t find the passion to practice. I would just sing all day and learned how to sing. When I left high school, I went to Uni and I did a course there that I really didn’t enjoy and that’s what made me realize how much I wanted to sing and do music. That’s when I first started songwriting as well. I was meant to be doing my assignments but I would be at home writing. Then I decided to study music, did a performance course, [and] songwriting, and I finished at the end of 2012 and started being Meg Mac. That’s how I got here.
What’s your creative process like?
It’s a bit weird, and I really don’t like people to be able to hear me. I get really embarrassed if people can hear me so I like to just be in a room by myself. Often I prefer to do it at night but if it’s daytime I pull down all the curtains and make sure it’s really dark, and try and sing and not worry about what it is – and I play piano. Usually I just record a lot of it on my phone. I listen later and find things that work of didn’t work. I’ve never sat down and written a song in one take. It takes weeks and I’m always working on lots of different songs all at the same time. You’ve released your first EP in Australia and are about to officially launch worldwide soon.
How does that feel -- anything you’re looking forward to post-release?
The thing I’m looking forward to is the shows. That’s my favorite part about this whole thing. When I’m on stage I realize what I’m doing, and realize that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. When I release my EP outside of Australia, that’s more people listening to it and more places to sing. That’s all I want to do - sing.
Any places you’re hoping to play at or dream spots?
I want to see America because I realize I haven’t seen much of it and people talk about it. I want to go to Nashville, and I’m excited to go to Austin for SXSW. I’d love to go to Europe and the UK; I kind of just want to go everywhere. I don’t know how much time you have in Austin but you really have to get some barbeque there. Ah, so many people have said that. I did this thing on my Facebook where I asked fans to ask me a question and I’ll reply with a postcard and surprisingly so many of them are talking about barbeque - “tell me what the ribs are like” or “tell me what the barbecue’s like” - so I’m going to be writing postcards with barbeque messages. That’s cool.
So are you actually writing postcards to people?
Originally I wanted to do these interviews that are like the slowest interviews ever, a snail mail interview. Fans would post a question to me but then it would have taken way too long, so I decided for them to ask me a question and give me their address on Facebook and I’ll reply with a postcard. I got way more that I expected, so I’ll have to go buy some postcards.
To talk about your EP -- it holds a lot of good versatility within style and tone. How do you keep your productions fresh and unique but still within a consistent style?
I guess the way I songwrite maybe? I don’t know. I try not to write or sound like anything; I try to write how I feel. When I do try and sounds like something, writing a faster song or something, I can’t do it. I just have to let it be how it is and not worry about it.
I know you’ve gotten a lot of attention for “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” which I actually covered on Indie Shuffle. I wanted to talk about “Grandma’s Hands” -- it comes across much darker, forceful and deviant than the rest of the EP.What’s behind this song?
That one’s actually a cover, a Bill Weather’s song. The reason it sounds different is because it’s a different producer. I wish I wrote that that song, but I didn’t write it. I spent a long time working on that one, signing it at shows, and it got such a good response from the live shows that I decided to record it.
Any personal experiences that helped to shape your EP that you can share with fans?
All the songs are based on real things, real experiences. I wrote “Known Better” when I was acting really stupid. When I do something that I feel bad about I get this really sick feeling in my stomach and everything it happens, I just think “oh my gosh, I just need to be a really good person and I will never have to feel like this again.” That’s kind of where that one came from.
“Every Lie” is me being upset about someone lying to me, obviously. [Laughs].
“Roll Up Your Sleeves,” I feel like I wrote it to myself. I found myself all the time, when I get stressed out, thinking, “why did I write that song, Meg?” I guess I have to take my own advice. I feel like I wrote it to myself, and I did feel better after I wrote it. I worked through some personal stuff when I wrote it, so it’s like advice for future Meg.
“Turning” is about me getting upset at the world. When you get too deep into the things that are screwed up in the world, you can get pretty down.
You’ve already gotten quite a few accolades under your belt: Rolling Stone Australia, Triple J’s Unearthed Artist of 2014, and signed with Lyor Coen. How have those experiences been for you? Was that the reception you anticipated?
No, I think I was hoping at least for something that stuck. I was pretty pleased with myself and what I’d done at the end of last year. I didn’t really think I could top that. I was really happy and proud of myself. I was like, “well, I can do this.” I was really nervous about labels and that side of music because it’s pretty strange, all that stuff. You just want to sing, and in Australia, I had stayed independent.
I just flew out to New York last year and I met Lyor and everyone at 300, and I wasn’t scared anymore. I thought, “this isn’t scary.” They made me feel really comfortable, like it was normal. It wasn’t going to be crazy or scary.
What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
Going back to Australia in a few weeks. I’m doing Groovin the Moo, a regional festival that goes around Australia, so that’s pretty exciting. Also lots of songwriting and recording for my album. Hopefully, [people like] the EP and I get to do a support tour.
3/24/15 Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend*
3/26/15 St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre*
3/27/15 Orlando, FL @ The Beacham*
3/30/15 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade*
3/31/15 Nashville, TN @ The Cannery Ballroom*
4/1/15 Chicago, IL @ Metro*
4/3/15 St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant*
4/4/15 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre*
4/5/15 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue*
4/7/15 Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre*
4/9/15 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee Theatre*
4/10/15 Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl *
* with Clean Bandit