Ahead of her performance at Brisbane Festival next Saturday, we had the pleasure of scoring an interview with the one and only Meg Mac. Heads up, she's kind of the coolest person ever.
We asked all like important questions, like whether she'd recommend studying music at uni, when we'll be hearing new music, and her favourite Aussie artist and food.
Q: So we're just going to dive right into some questions. What inspired you to start singing?
Meg: I guess just listening to music and, like, hearing other people sing makes you want to sing, I guess.
Q: So you were always into singing from a young age?
Meg: Yeah. My dad always played a lot of music. My mum was always singing, and like, playing piano. And so singing was kind of normal. I grew up like that. And it was probably when I was, like, finished high school and I was like eighteen that I started actually writing songs. And that’s when I realised I wanted to actually do it for real. Like, it wasn’t just fun anymore. I was taking it seriously.
Q: Are there any of your songs you actually don’t enjoy performing anymore?
Meg: Um, no. I like singing all of them. Yeah.
Q: So none of them you’ve performed so many times you just don’t enjoy it anymore?
Meg: No, because I wouldn’t be singing them at home for fun but it’s so different when there’s an audience there. That’s what makes it worth it.
Q: When can we expect new music?
Meg: Really soon. I’ll be announcing that really soon.
Q: Yay, that’s exciting! An album or just a couple singles?
Meg: I’ll be putting out a song first. Then I’ll have more information.
Q: What is the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?
Meg: I always get really stuck on the, like, ‘so you’re gonna have a dinner party, who would invite dead or alive?’ like whenever I get those questions I’m like oh no. They’re not really weird questions, I’ve had those questions so many times, but every time it gets me. I think I think about it too much, I can’t get a quick answer.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Meg: That’s a good question. Hopefully, doing exactly what I’m doing now. Still making music. If I’m still doing music in five years, I’ll be happy.
Q: Which artist in the industry would you most want to do a collaboration with and why?
Meg: In Australia?
Q: In the whole industry. Anybody in the whole world.
Meg: Maybe…Solange? I like her.
Q: How come?
Meg: I just really like her song writing and her songs. They’re all really interesting, like heaps of harmonies. So I’d love to, like, I just like singing with people. So when you sing harmonies it’s always really nice. It seems like she likes to do that.
Q: Now talking about Australian artists. Which Australian artist would you most want to share the stage with at one of your shows?
Meg: I don’t know. I love Napalm. I love her voice. So that’d be pretty cool, to sing with her.
Q: What is your favourite Australian food?
Meg: I don’t know (laughs) I mean, I do like Christmas. Like seafood and prawns. That sort of thing. That seems to be the summer, Christmas kinda BBQ vibes that we always do.
Q: What did you want to be as a child? Did you always want to be a singer?
Meg: No, I loved ballet when I was really little. And then I said I wanted to be a chef at one point. I’m not even good at cooking. I think I just went through a million different things. And I always loved singing, and when I wrote songs I was like ‘oh I want to write songs’ and it became more about my music than just wanting to sing.
Q: Do you write all your songs and then record them all? Or do you have help writing your songs to then record them?
Meg: I like to write by myself. So, yeah usually I end up kind of recording demos on my phone. Writing is always something I tend to prefer to do by myself, then when I go into the studio or go to record it that’s when I start…and because I write on piano it’ll just be piano and vocals and like harmonies and stuff. Then I always work with someone to get all the other instruments in and like get players in to play all the other parts.
Q: What’s the weirdest place you’ve been when you’ve come up with lyrics for a song?
Meg: I remember once I had this idea on an airplane. It was like an international flight and that time when everyone’s asleep. So I was probably half-asleep and it was probably the worst idea ever. And I was like “I’ve gotta record it on my phone” and I was like singing this thing into my phone and I listened back later and all you can hear is the drrrrrr, like airplane noises, and it’s just this random like (makes humming noise). You can’t even hear what I’m singing. I must have just been half-asleep. Yeah, and I thought “I’ve got to record it”. It sounded awful.
Q: That’s the best. You’ll never forget that either. So that’s good.
Q: Who is your favourite artist of all time?
Meg: My favourite singer is Sam Cook.
Q: You’ve just always been a fan?
Meg: I didn’t actually hear him until, like, when I was maybe like nineteen. And then the first song I heard was ‘Change Is Gonna Come’ and it was like, literally like the first…by the third word of the song I was like “this is my favourite singer”.
Q: Tell us about your worst dating experience and did it inspire any of your songs?
Meg: I guess my first EP kind of has songs that come from relationships. Like ‘Every Lie’. ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ kind of came from that place. Yeah, kind of my EP probably answers your questions.
Q: Do you have a specific worst experience that stands out?
Meg: I guess ‘Every Lie’ was about lies. So probably, dishonesty is probably my least favourite thing about any situation. Even if it’s just life or music or anything. If it’s not honest I don’t like it.
Q: What would your advice be to aspiring musicians? We obviously know you went to WAAPA, would you recommend studying music to aspiring musicians?
Meg: I think for some people it’s not necessary. I don’t know. I feel like it’s more when you think you should do something and that’s not what you should do. If you think you have to study to do music, that’s not true. It’s more figuring out what you want to do and what’s best for you. I think I spent way too much of my life listening to what other people said and I should do. Like “what do you think of this song” and people give you their opinions and it wasn’t until I started realising that I had my own thoughts about things and I knew best that I started to actually create what I’m doing now. So I think don’t worry about what people say you should do. Work out what you actually want to do.
Q: Would you say that your time at WAAPA furthered your career? You don’t regret going?
Meg: No, not at all. That was a few years where I…like I hadn’t played with a band before, I had to write songs all the time and get people to play my songs. That’s where I kind of learnt that…I mean everyone around you is doing music, so you weren’t like a weirdo. So it’s kind of a great place to start working on my music but it wasn’t out in the world yet. Just playing around.
Q: Did you find it was out of your comfort zone? Did you enjoy that? Did it take a while for you to settle in and perform in front of other people or did it come naturally?
Meg: Yeah, it was really scary to perform for everyone. Especially when you’re first playing something you’ve written yourself. That’s really scary. Uni is scary, you have to do thing. It’s very weird…being tested on music is weird. To me now, music is just feelings, it’s what I feel like. I guess that’s the hard thing about uni. How can you put a mark on someone’s music? It doesn’t work like that in the real world.
Q: Did that experience give you the opportunity to learn to start writing music? Or did you arrive with songs?
Meg: It was more permission to do whatever you wanted with music. I was writing music before I went and that was just time that I had where everything was just music. I got to write music.
Q: What was your favourite song ever to write and record?
Meg: I love recording ‘Grace Gold’ on my album. It was kind of built around this one riff, this one vocal riff, and then when we recorded it we started that vocal riff and worked from that point and I really loved recording that song.
Q: Do you enjoy recording all your songs?
Meg: Yeah, I have a lot of fun. But then some are like…it’s like harder to get to the point where you’re like “yes this is it” and some songs come easier but it’s all pretty fun.
Q: What’s your favourite song to perform live?
Meg: It kind of changes every show. I love ‘Ride It’, playing ‘Ride It’ live.
Q: Just because of audience engagement or?
Meg: Yeah, and like, there’s just heaps of dynamics in that song. Like my band and, just lots going on where it changes. Like it’ll drop down, then it’s big, and big harmonies, then lots of guitar. It’s just exciting, I guess. High energy, I like it.
Q: Was there anything specific that made you start writing music as a teenager? Was there a life experience or something that prompted your writing?
Meg: I remember my sisters, one of my sisters, showed me…because I would learn piano but I didn’t like it, I didn’t practice or anything I just really didn’t like it. And then my sister one day showed me how to make a chord on the piano. Just like a basic chord, she was like “yeah you just get your three fingers and you go like this, you just move the middle one down one note and then it sounds sad and then you just do it wherever you want on the piano and then you can make up a song like that”. And I was like, it’s so simple, but that was like…that moment was like my mind was just blown. And from then I just sat at the piano, making up songs. Using my ear to figure out what I wanted.
Meg Mac will be playing at the Brisbane Festival's closing night next Saturday alongside Violent Soho, Methyl Ethel and WAAX.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain.
This was first published on QUT Universe, if you'd like to see more of my content from the site check out this link.