New Face, Fresh Style: Australian Singer Meg Mac on Touring With D'Angelo & Leaving Tracks Unedited
With a co-sign by D’Angelo and backing by three-year-old independent record label 300 Entertainment—Fetty Wap, Migos, and Young Thug are label mates--Australian soul singer-songwriter Meg Mac is breaking out on her own with the release of her raw and piano-laden debut album Low Blows. Although, the upcoming solo project is set to release next month (July 14), "Don't Need Permission," the album's feel-good, infectious third single about staying true to yourself and not wavering, released only a few days ago.
The Christopher Braide-produced track was recorded in Malibu, Ca. while the rest of her entirely unedited songs were completed in Fort Worth, TX. at Niles City Sound--Austin Jenkins, Josh Block, and Chris Vivion of the music studio also produced Leon Bridges' album, Coming Home, which initially inspired Mac to collaborate with the trio.
For this week's New Face, Fresh Style column, Billboard exclusively spoke with the emerging Aussie songstress to discuss her musical bucket list, best vintage shopping tips and borrowing from the boys.
You’re Melbourne-based, but you spent considerable time touring in the U.S supporting D’Angelo and Clean Bandit, along with hitting up the festival circuit. The majority of your album was also recorded in Fort Worth, Texas. How has immersing yourself in these global cities impacted the sound of your new project?
I spent a lot of time touring back and forth between Australia and America; it was all I was doing for a long time, and I think that definitely had an effect on me. Touring with D’Angelo was an experience that will stay with me for a long time. I would be inspired before his show had even started - just watching him and the band soundcheck and get ready backstage every night. So many musicians I look up to like Gary Clark Jr. were on the lineup in New York, and I just had to soak it all up. There’s nothing better than the real thing, it’s so powerful, and I think I carried that with me into making this album.
What's the significance behind leaving the unedited vocal takes on your album?
I think a lot of what I consider the best music is the music that makes me feel something. An unedited vocal take can hold so much emotion and attitude; it’s real but you might struggle to catch your breath, or you might go to the wrong note in the moment, but it’s the feeling you captured that matters. One of the songs that came together in one go was "Shiny Bright" where it’s just me and the piano on that song, and it’s one of my favorites.
What do you hope to check off your musical bucket list next?
When I was in Texas making the album, I started teaching myself guitar and I picked out my first guitar in New York when I was working at Electric Lady. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my guitar lately.
How would you describe your everyday style? How do you like to switch up your look for performances?
My style inspiration is Edith Piaf who just wears a black dress and sings; I love that. Right now my favorite thing to wear is just a men's white linen shirt and that’s what I’m wearing on my album cover. What is strange is that I like to wear hats on stage but not anywhere else. I have so many hats now, but they’re only worn when I am singing.
You’re also into "op-shopping" or what us Americans call "thrift shopping". What tips and tricks do you have for finding standout garments and accessories?
You just need to spend time in a store going through crap, like finding records, books, clothes, whatever, there’s always a gem in there somewhere. I don’t think it matters whether you have something old or new--once I bought an old belt for $2 and I wore it with everything--and you can mix vintage and modern items.
Any interesting stories behind some of your favorite vintage goods?
I bought this dramatic black velvet cape once, but it only had these small holes for your arms, and I couldn’t hold my microphone when I wore it so I cut up the cape so that I could wear it on tour.
What's your makeup look for a show?
I keep it simple; just brush my eyebrows and then put on lipstick for a show.
Watch the official lyric video for "Don't Need Permission" below: