For Macklemore, a solid collab is greater than the sum of its parts. The rapper (otherwise known as Ben Haggerty) scored the biggest-selling download of 2013 with the unstoppable hit “Thrift Shop,” thanks to a team-up with his regular music-making partner Ryan Lewis and Wanz (aka Michael Wansley).
On “Arrows,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis appear as featured artists for another Seattle artist, Chris Mansfield, who works under the moniker Fences.
It’s a reunion of sorts for Macklemore and Mansfield, who are good friends who’ve worked together on multiple occasions. The duo met years ago while gigging around Seattle, and Mansfield co-wrote a song on Macklemore’s 2012 album The Heist (“10,000 Hours”), and was featured on 2011’s “Otherside Remix,” which he co-wrote.
Fences enjoys an underground following, but it’s fair to say the alt-pop outfit hasn’t yet tasted anything like the mainstream, international success Macklemore has struck.
“We do get asked often for features,” Macklemore told Billboard ahead of his performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. “I think this record stood out because I’m a friend of Chris, I believe in his music. It’s one thing to do a feature for somebody who’s already famous, it’s another to, like, work with someone that you like, that you love, that you have an appreciation for and make art, and that’s what it’s all about.”
As Billboard reported ahead of the “Arrows” release, Fences is known for tortured love songs and emo anthems, but the single has a slightly lighter touch than the songs on its self-titled debut album from 2010. Mansfield signed to Atlantic’s Elektra Records imprint last year.
“It sounds like a cop-out but it was very ‘organic’. I don’t like to use that word because everyone uses that word. But it was,” says Mansfield of the demo-to-completion for “Arrows.” “It was kind of like, we were together twice before and I had a track he would be awesome on and I thought lyrically he would be relevant with it and I sent it to him and he said ‘yeah’. And here we are.”
“I’d seen Ed do a cover of it when he was on tour and we had him out for our tour last year at some point in New York, We’ve been friends ever since…amazing voice, great artist, he supports the song and we’re in the same city,” Mack says of his British buddy. “It makes sense.”