Interview: Meg Mac
After spending a little time hiding away, Figaro caught up with Meg Mac at the Northcote Social club last week, where we talked about Texas, Splendour, the makings of her debut album and diving back into playing live.
After touring with D’Angelo, Gary Clark Jr. and Jarryd James, at what point did you sit back and just say 'alright, it’s time to make some new music?
I was always planning to make an album and then I finally just got time to actually do it. That year was pretty full on with tours it was kind of non-stop, there were so many shows. It was like, tour, then come home to Australia, then tour and then back home again to Australia. I think I did Groovin’ The Moo that year and Splendour, so, yeah 2015 was a big year! So much was happening that year, so the past 12 months has been time to focus on the album.
Did you have stuff written for the album already or?
Yeah, so I had been writing on tour and every time I was home, so everything was all written and ready to go, I just had to find the right place and time for it.
So we hear you recorded and put it together in Texas, how did that come about and why did you choose Forth Worth as the place to record?
Well, I loved Leon Bridges’ album (Coming Home), I was really excited by that sound and the way he did it.
So after meeting him and his team at Falls festival, I ended up flying over to Dallas and going to Forth Worth to spend a day in the studio to try out a song and see what it was like. We recorded it to tape and it was all done live and I had never heard my voice on tape before, the whole thing was just really fun.
So, when I came home we booked in to make the album there and yeah, that’s just sorta how it happened.
The people you worked with the first time in Texas, did you work with them for the entirety of the album?
Yup! they’re the people who discovered him (Bridges) actually, so they found him and then they played on his album. But I also ended up in New York at Electric Lady and I did additional production there and I recorded a song over there, and then when I came home, I actually did two songs in Melbourne, but most of it was put together in Texas.
Any interesting stories from Texas?
Ummm. Well, I guess the studio was really cool. Like it’s new but it looks like it's from the 70’s. it’s called ‘Niles City Sound’, and when you go in it’s like, the whole design of it is like a studio from the 70’s and it’s almost kind of like going back in time. All the microphones are vintage, the stands and speakers were old, heaps of vintage synths.
So did it feel weird walking from the outside world into the studio?
Yes! It’s not at all what you would expect like you type this code on this modern door of this warehouse and then you go in and it’s like you’re in a movie, it was really cool.
You said that you’ve ‘left some small mistakes in the finished work'. Is this all apart of your growth as an artist or bravery? What was your reasoning behind that?
My favourite thing and what I kind of live for, is to do live shows and the experience of playing my songs live. I try to bring that to the album, So I’ve tried to make the album give me the same feeling as playing live.
More raw and honest perhaps?
I wasn’t like, intentionally being like “alright I’m gonna fuck this up”, it was just more like, if that take has the feeling that we needed, then I’m gonna go with that. Even though I would, think “maybe I could’ve done that better or I could’ve sung that bit better" it was kind of living with it as part to make it more real.
Were there any single takes in there?
There’s one song…well there’s a couple actually that are pretty much entire vocal takes. Just one run through, but in the studio, it can take a very long time if you want to perfect it.
So as you said, you’ve been wanting to make this album for a while but only just found the time. Is it relieving to finally be getting this new album out and being able to express some things you’ve been holding in through your music?
Yeah, yes. I think it's all been made, and now it’s all in my head and what I’m most looking forward to is bringing it to life at this stage. Cause, I write all my songs to be able to sing them, so to not be able to sing them is really hard. But like, even though I’ve got all of these songs sitting there on the album, for me, I’m more excited to play them for people and to actually get out there.
What a time for it too! Cause you’ve got Splendour coming up, and then…
And then I’ve got my own tour!
We saw a much more barebones approach to production on this album and see your voice dominate the songs much more, which really is incredible. Is this all part of your maturity and growth as an artist? Or just how you wrote it?
I guess it was more about the songs. When I write the songs or just play piano and sing, and kind of try to not lose that. Or lose the same feeling I get when I’m just at home with the song written and just trying to bring the song to life, rather than be just a certain style I guess.
And how was that process?
It was good. Stressful, but the good kind. Cause with the EP I guess it was a one song at a time sort of thing, and I also didn’t really know that people would listen to it, and I didn’t know what would happen so there was no plan. I’m still an independent artist so it was a very indie approach to the whole thing and then this album was doing all of it in one go which was really different.
For having the time allocated to make the album, did set a time restriction for yourself? Or just call it a day whenever you finished up in Texas?
Mm, no there was definitely times that we hoped to meet deadlines and obviously nothing ever goes to plan sooo *laughs *… but, yeah last year was just to make the album.
And were you happy with how it’s all turned out?
Yeah, I really am! Especially now after doing these showcases, and now that I’ve performed them I feel even more confident about it.
As you should.
Aw, Thank you!
If you could choose one thing for people to take away from your album, what would it be?
I guess, well, all the songs are so personal to me, that I feel like I’ve probably given everyone a little piece of me! Or like I’d maybe hope that people feel like they know me a bit better now. Or maybe even get a sense that they can understand me, but yeah.
So we do a monthly playlist on Spotify, can you give us three songs that you think should be on next months playlist?
Alright, umm, okay…..I recently made my own Spotify playlist actually called ’12 Songs from Meg’ and I haven’t changed it yet. It’s been a few weeks I think, or maybe longer, I need to change it, thanks for reminding me! But ‘Shelter from the Storm’ by Bob Dylan, I really like that song I’ve been listening to it every day, so that’s a really good song. Umm, what else would I put on there…ooh I know this is an older song of his but ‘Bored in the U.S.A’ by Father John Misty and lastly hmm, Lana Del Rey ‘Love’.
I hope they make good additions to your playlist!
Well, we’ll keep you posted, but thank you so much for your time to have a chat.
No no thank you for taking the time to listen!