I had no idea who Meg Mac was for a long time. I heard Never Be everywhere, and absolutely frothed on it. It would pop up in my head and just play over and over. And then I’d hear the name Meg Mac and think, ‘Who dat?’ It wasn’t long before I began to discover what all the fuss was about.
Even the fussiest of music lovers must flock to these vocals. Megan McInerney is known for tracks filled with smoking confidence and a precise, controlled wrench at your heartstrings. Speaking to her offstage, however, McInerney is soft-spoken and disarming as she discusses her new album, Low Blows.
“Low Blows is about, like you said, how I tend to be more on the quiet side, and how that can come back to bite you later. Sometimes I don’t speak up, or I find it uncomfortable to stand up for myself and then later I feel the result of that. It’s wishing I could say more. [My music is] the one place I can say it all.”
McInerney seems to let everything out when performing, hitting the switch on her demeanour as she begins to hit the notes.
“I feel more like myself when I’m singing,” she says. “The last year I’ve just been making the album. It’s really strange because I’m so used to being able to just get up and sing. I’ve been going a lil’ insane, not doing shows. I guess I had to make do just singing in my room.”
McInerney says inspiration comes from all kinds of surroundings, whether in the familiar security of home or from being thrown into a foreign studio with bizarre art everywhere. She recorded much of Low Blows in Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas, with some final touches at Electric Lady studios in New York.
“All the places do feel different but once you’re singing… There was one song I recorded at Electric in this downstairs studio with big murals of space and aliens and I was just staring into that. It created a different atmosphere on the song. Then the studio in Fort Worth was the most amazing studio, almost like a ’70s recording studio, vintage gear. That had a lot of influence on the album, lots of live energy.”
McInerney met the Niles City crew at Falls Festival; Leon Bridges had already worked with them. She flew over to record one track and fell in love with the space. Then off to New York, before finishing with a final vocal take in a friend’s bedroom in Fitzroy.
“Your surroundings can affect the sound of your music. Sometimes my best vocals are in my bedroom on an iPhone recording. I’ll never be able to recreate that for a proper microphone. When you’re relaxed in your own space, you feel comfortable; you can get lost in it. When you’re in the studio you have to forget you’re in the studio, forget there’s people listening in the control room.”
McInerney seems to find her true home singing anywhere, though especially when simply at home.
“I just love singing,” she says. “A lot of my songs have been written on the piano I grew up with, at my parents’ house in Sydney. Often when I need to write, I’ll go to Sydney and write on that piano. It’s not a fancy piano. It’s just my piano.
“I don’t write lyrics separately to chords. When I sit down to write a song, it’s everything at the same time. It’s all one for me. I have a notebook on the piano but mostly I just press record on my phone and sing for hours. I don’t plan it. Just sing, play, see what feels good. Right now I’m working on like, ten songs.”
From the bedroom to the big stage, Meg Mac thrives on both, so long as she’s singing.
“I live to do shows. It has scared me, not being able to do shows. I’m imagining shows rather than actually doing them. If I found out I couldn’t do any more shows, I’d be very freaked out.”
Before her year off to write the new album, McInerney hit stages such as Splendour in Australia, as well as on support with D’Angelo in the US.
“Watching the show and seeing the audience and Deangelo and his band, it wasn’t like he’s the singer and everyone’s watching. It was like the audience was a part of it. He was very powerful. You could feel in the room a kind of magic. His music means so much to the people. They all kinda became one. That’s the biggest thing I learnt. You soak it up every night and kind of naturally start bringing it in without thinking about it. I try not to choreograph, I just have to relax and feel each show, and you have to know that each show is different. Make sure each night is special in its own way. It’s hard not to be inspired by it all.”
Now, back home, McInerney’s throwing all her energy into her upcoming 2017 Splendour In The Grass performance. “I’ve got a whole album of new songs to play. I’ve got lots of ideas and arrangements to bring that to life. No one’s ever heard those songs so I’m excited.”
I’m excited too, especially now that actually I know who Meg Mac is, and still frothing.
23 July, Splendour In The Grass, North Byron Parklands
8 & 9 September The Forum, Melbourne
22 September, Enmore Theatre, Sydney