Meg Mac: the highs behind ‘Low Blows’

Meg Mac: the highs behind ‘Low Blows’

Site: Samantha Ledlin

Off the back of a sold-out Aussie tour and ahead of her performance at Festival of the Sun, we chatted to Meg Mac on how her debut album came about

2017 has been one of those defining years for singer/songwriter Meg Mac. Following the success of her self-titled EP, the 27-year old this year released her first album Low Blows; a combination of deeply captivating and personal bluesy indie-rock melodies that debuted (rather impressively) at number two on the Aria charts. But the road to Low Blows was by no means a slow one. Mac, whose full name is Meg McInerney, first entered the Aussie music scene when her record 'Every Lie' took out triple j's Unearthed competition in 2014. Since then Mac has been nominated for three ARIA Awards, scored a number 11 spot in triple j's Hottest 100 and has this year embarked on a sold-out 24 date headline tour, the largest of her career so far. The singer just can't (or more likely won't) put the brakes on - about to play Port Macquarie's Festival of the Sun this week, Samantha Ledlin chatted to the singer/songwriter on all things Low Blows.

The title of your album is 'Low Blows' which is also the title of a single on the record, what was the decision to name the album after this particular song?

I had no idea what the title would be. Once all the songs were finished, after listening through everything, I kind-of liked the sound of 'Low Blows' and  I could almost think of each song on the album as some sort of low blow in my life or something like that that made me write the song. So it nicely summed up the feeling of the album.

So what exactly is your song writing process?

I'm kind-of always writing and always working on a million ideas. I've never sat down and written a whole song in one go or anything like that. But usually it is at the piano, and I just sit and work through things. But then often I will come up with ideas in the car or in the middle of the night. One of the songs on the album I started coming up with in a hotel room in America when I was on tour - it depends where I am, I guess.

Are you the type of person who will get up in the middle of the night and write down those middle of the night ideas that come into your head?

Usually I just put voice memos on my phone, and say something ridiculous into my phone, or sing it [into my phone], and then in the morning I can never really [understand] what I've done. Once, on a plane I sang something into my phone and then I listened back later and it was just like [an inaudible] aeroplane noise and [I] couldn't even hear what I was [singing]. I was trying not to let anyone know that I was singing into my phone.

You've performed at huge festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and are about to play Festival of the Sun, how do you compare playing a festival as opposed to smaller shows?

I guess it's always really different [at a festival] because it is not only your show. There [are] so many other people, and when you get there, you feel like you are part of the world of music, rather than just stuck inside your own little world. The energy is really different; people are watching lots of bands that day and wanting to have a good time. There's more people screaming, dancing and getting on people's shoulders, which doesn't really happen [at my shows].

Do you have a preference to playing a festival or smaller gigs?

I kind of like everything. I love playing really tiny shows where it is really intimate and you can see everyone, but I loved playing Splendour in the Grass, it's the most people I have ever seen. I can't really compare them because they are both amazing in their own way.

What would you say are your influences in music?

When I'm song writing I don't ever think about other music, but then when I am trying to bring it to life, that's when [I] start thinking of a guitar sound that [I've] heard on some album, or the drums or a feeling from another song. It comes from all over the place when I am bringing the songs into real life. But when I am sitting down and trying to be creative, I find that I have to not think about other music and focus. I guess everything I like listening to ends up inspiring [me] and seeping into [me].

What music are you listening to right now?

Recently I did Like a Version [on triple j] and I did a Tame Impala song so I have been listening to heaps of Tame Impala lately. And Lana Del Rey, I've been listening to her too.

Do you enjoy performing covers?

I had a cover of 'Grandma's Hands' by Bill Withers that I put in my EP. I used to just perform it with my band at my shows and then I ended up actually recording it. At all my shows I always [perform] a cover; at the moment I am doing a Sly and the Family Stone cover. If I really love a song I like performing it and seeing what I can do with it.

It sounds like you write your songs to be performed live as opposed to be listened to on a record, is that right?

Yeah, my favourite thing [to do] is performing. Doing shows is why I do what I do, so when I'm writing I'm always thinking 'I can't wait to actually sing this to someone or play this in real life'. That's like the goal to be [playing] it on a tour, or playing it in real life.

You can catch Meg Mac performing at Festival of the Sun this week. December 7 - 9, NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park.

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