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INTERVIEW: Mack Ray

Hi Mack, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey I’m well, thanks for reaching out.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Jalebyrds”?

JaleByrds is a celebratory song about our human inadequacies. It’s an odd thing to celebrate but all of us fall short of our expectations at some point, in some way. Even if it’s as simple as partying too much or too heavily the previous night and feeling the effects of that. My focus in this song is about the excitement and adrenaline that often comes along with a conscious decision to do what you know you shouldn’t.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Almost every day of my life haha, but seriously I often wonder why I knowingly do things that are not necessarily good for me or wise in the long run. Sometimes I just want to break the normalcy of everyday life and I think that’s extremely common in people.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I worked with a great multi-format artist called Dead End Career Club. He’s extremely unique and punky so we came up with this simple yet potent idea of drinking “blood” while singing the song and having it be one single shot. I had about 10 blood capsules in my mouth that I periodically bit into. I didn’t anticipate how tough it was to sing and have these things in my mouth so at times you can see me go off a little bit, but hey that’s DIY punk.

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing has become a solitary endeavour for me in the recent past. For years I was a writer on music row in Nashville but I wrote a lot on my own before that and I really enjoy the depth with which I can investigate a song on my own. I started JaleByrds with electronic drums using Ableton. The title was something I had written down a long time ago. I always like the sound of It and knew that it’d be useful at some point.

I feel most comfortable and uniquely creative these days when I’m writing from a recording program and building the track as I go. So, I did the majority of the recording and mix  by myself. Afterwards I took it to a great producer and friend of mine Ricky Sixxx, who put the final mix on it and mastered the track.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

Nashville plays a few different roles for me currently. I learned an incredible amount about songwriting there, more specifically writing with a purpose. I sat outside the Bluebird countless nights listening to the legendary writers, trying to soak it all in. I’ve grown a lot since then and allowed other influences to be a part of my work but it’s still foundational in what I do now.

Lightning 100 is one of my favorite radio stations in the world and they have been spinning Mack Ray a bit so that’s another connection. It’s somewhat rare these days to find a radio station with such unwavering commitment to creative integrity and band loyalty. I’m really thrilled to be a small part of that.

Lastly, aside from my artist career, I still pitch songs to some people on music row. Perhaps songs that aren’t right for me stylistically or something that I think would be really good for a specific artist. I still dream of that Springsteen/Patty Smith “Because the Night” moment.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

Yeah it’s a whole different arena for me. I enjoy both for sure but there are many different needs depending on the setup.

Initially the process will differ as to whether we’re writing for them, for me, another artist or just in general. I usually start on guitar when I write with someone else but on my own I’ll start with bass, drums or synth.

There’s a whole human connection involved when writing with someone else. It may be a professional fault of mine but, every session I’ve ever had I strive to form a friendship before a song. I value it much more and it will last much longer than any song.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

It absolutely does! I have an inherent need to write and “get that sh*t out” so there is a good amount of material backlogged at the moment. I’m bursting to release stuff but I want it to have the best platform possible so…

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

…the timeline is a little uncertain at this point.  Especially for a multi song release but I’ll steadily be releasing songs regardless.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ll be out on the road in January and February. There are dates in Toronto, New York and Nashville so far. mackraymusic.com will have the dates as they come in. I’m much more comfortable on the road at this point so there will be more in the near future.

What else is happening next in Mack Ray’s world?

I’ve been spending a a bunch of time in NYC recently. There are some really great artist centric labels in the city so I’ll be hanging there eating Deli sandwiches and watching bands. Beyond that I’ll be writing and performing live as much as I can. If I stop moving I die, just like a shark haha.

LISTEN/WATCH: Mack Ray – “JaleByrds”

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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