Meg Mac’s soft-spoken demeanor belies a big stage presence and an even bigger voice. Delivering starkly cinematic lyrics filtered through a Detroit/Memphis inspired sense of dark soul, that voice serves as the centerpiece of her 2015 debut Meg Mac EP [300 Hundred Entertainment]. It’s also a big reason that the Sydney, Australia singer and songwriter has already drawn buzz from the likes of The New York Times and BuzzFeed and enjoyed a veritable breakout moment stateside at SXSW. However, Meg began developing her “instrument” as soon as she could speak.
“My mother used to teach me everything in song,” she recalls. “My last name is really hard to spell, so I learned how to spell it because my mum made up a tune. That’s when I began singing.”
Growing up with four siblings and a father who would blast Ray Charles and Van Morrison at full volume, Meg started taking formal vocal lessons at the age of nine. In between playing piano, she was always singing and she started writing songs as a teen. Her first recording “Known Better” received heavy airplay on Australia’s Triple J after Meg submitted it to Triple J Unearthed in 2013.
Constantly engaging her growing fan base by responding to nearly every online comment and handwriting “thank you’s” to fans, she sold out her first headline tour. Triple J named her “Unearthed Artist of 2014,” while Marie Claire Australia chose her as an “Artist To Watch” for 2015 and she received a nomination for Rolling Stone Australia’s “Best New Talent” Award. Across the world in New York, 300 Entertainment caught wind and signed her.
The Meg Mac EP is the culmination of her tireless work over the past few years, capturing both raw emotion and searing soul. “Music is definitely a way for me to get things out,” she admits. ““Otherwise, they sit in my head and stay there. Once these issues become songs, they are just songs for me to sing, it’s like they’re just songs, and they’re not real anymore. How I feel at the end is different than how I felt at the beginning. I don’t ever rush. It has to be real and come to me naturally because, at the end of the day, I can’t get on stage and sing something if I don’t believe in it.”
You’ll believe in it as soon as you hear her. EP opener “Roll Up Your Sleeves” begins with a soft piano melody before blossoming into a heavenly hook of, “Everything is gonna be alright.” She explains, “It’s as if I wrote a letter talking to myself. That’s how it started. It’s hard to do the right thing sometimes. It can be scary. It’s easier to pretend you don’t care, but I’m assuring myself that if I do the right thing, it will work out.”
Elsewhere, the jazz-y beat and smoky energy of “Turning” would feel right at home in a film noir, while Meg takes blues luminary Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” and brings a modern panache down to the Delta. “I really started to appreciate Bill Withers a few years ago. There is something about this song that made me want to sing it the first time I heard it. I love putting my own spin on the song and performing it live!”
“Known Better” pensively ponders regret, while “Every Lie” walks the line between gospel bombast and blissful alternative soul. It’s another confessional from Meg who adds, “It’s probably obvious that was the first time I felt a bit burned by someone and had a breakup. I was in shock because I’d never had these feelings before. If there is one lie and you found it - you can drive yourself crazy thinking about all the lies that you didn’t find.”
All of these stories really come to life when she hits the stage though. Her voice can fill any room, while her delivery swings between intimate and intense. “It requires heaps of singing,” she affirms. “I try to involve everyone, I don’t close my eyes when I sing really, I try to look everyone in the eye. I want to give them everything and let them know how I feel.”
That’s undoubtedly what Meg will continue to do as she tours worldwide and releases her first full-length album in late 2015. The spotlight is going to stay on her and that voice…