Powerhouse Singer Meg Mac Talks Low Blows and Shining Bright

Powerhouse Singer Meg Mac Talks Low Blows and Shining Bright

The singer merges old soul with modern melodies for a sound that feels both nostalgic and new.

The singer merges old soul with modern melodies for a sound that feels both nostalgic and new.

Text: Ilana Kaplan

Falling somewhere in-between Adele and Amy Winehouse is singer Meg Mac (whose real name is Megan McInerney). In 2014, Mac broke out with her hit single “Roll Up Your Sleeves” and everything seemed to come together from there. Soon enough, she grew a fanbase going out on tour, and eventually was taken under D’Angelo’s wing—someone who proved to be a great source of education and inspiration for her. “I think what I learned the most was that watching him was so powerful,” Mac explains. “I got really inspired by [his performances].”

Now, the 26-year-old singer is on the verge of releasing her debut album Low Blows—a culmination of her love for old soul (like Sam Cooke) and powerhouse vocals.

Before her album release this July, we caught up with Mac about D’Angelo’s influence on her work, breaking out of the Australian music scene, and the nostalgic sadness that seeps through her music.

You were touring with D’Angelo. What did you learn from him along the way?

Watching him every night and being able to sneakily watch him warming up backstage and seeing it all...I tried to soak up as much of it as I could. I just tried to listen. His band is so amazing, so seeing the live show and how he interacts with people in the audience was amazing.

How did you land on the title Low Blows for your record?

The first single on my album is called “Low Blows,” and the name of the song seemed to sum up the meaning of the album. All of the songs I’ve written are about me, and they’re all really personal. They’ve all kind of been low blows that I’ve dealt with and I’ve turned into songs.

How would you sum up the theme of the record?

I think the theme is trying to be simple. When we went into making the album, we wanted to make the songs feel real—so when you’re listening to it you’re there with me in the studio and I’m singing directly to you. I wasn’t trying to be anything in particular—I was trying to be natural. I played a lot of piano on the album, which was recorded in a live way.

What were you listening to when you made the album?

I try not to listen to current music when I’m writing. I listen to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding because I like that music, but I’m not trying to figure out what people are doing right now because that can stop me being creative if I’m comparing myself to anyone.

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

My mom would sing a lot—she’s Irish and would play a lot of Irish folk songs. She would play the accordion. My dad would play a lot of soul music. We were always listening to Ray Charles. He loves Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. I kind of listened to what my parents listened to.

How long did it take you to make Low Blows?

I was writing on the D’Angelo tour and even before that. Writing was always happening—I could never put a timeline on that. It happened in a few different stages. I flew to Fort Worth for a few weeks and then flew back to Australia for a little while. I was doing some mixing from Australia. Overall it was a few months, but just in the studio, it was probably a month.

How is the record a departure from your debut MegMac EP you released?

The EP was composed of my first songs ever. I didn’t have a plan for that to be the EP. We were just putting out a song at a time and seeing how it goes. I was making the whole album at the same time. I think it sounds pretty different to the EP. It was my first time doing everything, but for the record, it was my second time around doing everything so I was a little more confident.

Can you take me through some of the most poignant tracks of the record?

I didn’t plan on “Low Blows” being the single, but whenever people listened to it they thought that it should be. “Low Blows” is really about looking back and knowing that things would be different if I stood up for myself. It’s almost a little bit sad watching yourself and how things could be different. It was written in my room in Melbourne. There’s a song called “Shining Bright,” and I feel like that song sums up the album for me—it’s just piano. I feel like it sums up where I am in my life right now.

And where is that?

I feel like I’ve grown up a little bit. When I started doing music, I didn’t know that anything would happen. I was just seeing what would happen. Then I actually get to make music on my own. I was growing up thinking about the future, but now I’m making music. There’s another song on the album called “Rabbit,” and I’ve never really had a lot of guitar underneath my recordings. It’s a song that really inspired me because it has a lot of guitar in it. It’s one of the heaviest songs on the album, and it inspired me to buy my first electric guitar.

When did you first decide you were going to be a musician?

When I started writing songs, that’s when I realized that it was something I wanted to do. I always liked when I made up songs—something that had never been sung before. It made me think differently about everything. That’s when I knew it was important to me. When I decided to upload my first song to a website, and it started getting played on the radio, that’s when I had confirmation that I could really do it.

What do you want fans to get out of your debut record?

I guess I want everyone to listen and get to know me. I would love people to listen to an album and see a show and see me live. That’s my favorite part of [being a musician]—it doesn’t matter if I’m playing for a few people or a lot of people. I just really enjoy it.

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