Mac Ayres Talks Upcoming Debut Album 'Something to Feel', Premieres 'Get to You Again': Exclusive
The 21-year-old R&B artist’s distinguished, soulful sound shines on his latest single.
Mac Ayres may only be 21 years old, but his music has a distinguished sound. He creates soulful R&B that is self-produced and written. He records with live instruments, many of which he plays himself. He thinks Stevie Wonder “is the epitome of what an amazing musician is” and cites D’Angelo, J Dilla, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye as influences. He’s an old soul.
Today, Billboard is excited to premiere “Get to You Again,” the second single off Ayres’ upcoming debut full-length album Something to Feel, which is slated for a Sept. 5 release via ARIMÉ. "The song in its simplest form is about reuniting with someone you’ve been missing, but when I was writing it, I was struggling to get back into a state of mind i was comfortable in,” Ayres explains. “This tune is so special to me, because it is just that. Me."
Listen to the soulful track and learn more about its origin and Something to Feel -- an album that’s been two years in the making -- below.
“Get to You Again" is a soulful, guitar-led R&B track. What’s the story behind it?
I made it here in my house in Long Island. I like to work from home a lot. I’m usually collaborating with Jack Dine, who’s another guy on my label who mastered my last record and mastered this track as well, but this time it was just me on the whole thing. I got to do it all myself.
I was home alone and was thinking about how do I get back to a couple of things, really -- my girlfriend was away at the time, I wasn’t really writing as much as I’d like to have been, so I was trying to get back into a mindset of writing more.
Do you usually record at your house?
Yeah, all of my first record was made at my house, and a lot of these tunes, too. I really like [to record there]. I play a lot of the instruments on my tracks; I produce, so I sometimes like to be alone with my thoughts and hash them out.
What does your songwriting process usually look like?
I try to be creative and write all day so I don’t have to set a scheduled block for writing. I don’t really work well within a deadline. I like to have the song come as it may. For this song [and album] in particular, I really got back more into guitar. I was playing keys at all of my shows, and then we got a keys player. I was like, I don’t want two keys players, that’s kinda corny, so I started playing guitar onstage. It transferred into my songwriting, just ‘cause I was practicing more, started writing more on the guitar. This song, I was just in my bed playing guitar. I thought of the hook, and it was one of those, "Oh shit, gotta get up, can’t go to sleep." I made most of the track that night -- I was on a creative high.
“Get to You Again” is the second single off your forthcoming album, Something to Feel. What can you tell us about the album?
I can tell you that I’ve been working really, really hard on it, making sure it’s as amazing as I think it is. [Laughs] I can’t say too much, but I’d like to think it’s a little more mature than my first project [Drive Slow]. It’s a little more of a dive into my songwriting. I feel like I showcase not only my songwriting, but my voice and my guitar playing, too. I’ve been practicing a lot, and I hope it shows on the album.
This is your debut full-length album. Do you feel any pressure?
I guess sometimes, but I try not to get too caught up on it. I think there’s always the thought of, "Will it be as popular as the first [EP]?" Then there’s the thought of, "I have a lot of fans who love and support me," and that’s another group of people I want to work really hard for, so I’m just excited to put it out and for everybody to hear it.
You’re a self-taught producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist. What made you decide to take that route versus being trained?
I would say I’m self-taught on most of the instruments I play and produce, but for singing, I was in choir for a lot of years. I took singing lessons as a young kid but stopped when I was 10 or 11. I always loved to sing, ever since I was little, but when I was 11, my mom bought me a keyboard for Christmas. I kind of just sat at it for 10 years and was fascinated by it -- it was all I wanted to do. I would run home from school and just sit at it. There’s something you can learn from an instrument every day, and that was just something I always enjoyed about it.
I wanted to be John Mayer when I was 16, so I picked up a guitar. That led to bass, and it all eventually led to producing when I got to school in Boston. So I wouldn’t say it was conscious, like, "Oh, I don’t want to learn 'the right way.'" Even in school, I wasn’t really interested in hearing somebody else talk about stuff. I just want to go find out about it for myself. Also, when I was seven, I had a piano lesson, and [the teacher] told me to sit up straight. I was like, “Mom, get him out of here. I don’t want him in my house.”