Singer MACK Debuts 'Underprivileged Pleasure' Video: A Q&A on 'Band-Aid' Sex, Couch Surfing and Her Tour
Mackenzie Graham--better known by her stage name, MACK--has been making music since the age of 15. The first song the young songstress ever wrote was a jingle for Starbucks. "I was probably 10 years old and thought coffee was the coolest thing," she tells Flaunt. Now, nearly 10 years later, the self taught singer, guitarist and pianist is writing lyrics on the topics of heartbreak, using sex as a physical band-aid, and living life as a "starving artist" in good-ole La La land.
We caught up with MACK as she prepares to release her first official EP Mack's Tape. Directed by Adrian Martinez, this one-take video concept was created and written by MACK herself. Most artists leave it to a creative team to help come up with video ideas and execution, but MACK had a vision and enlisted the creative team to help her make it come to life.
The song and video are a direct line into who MACK is as an artist: full of life and passion, and enjoys the little things, all the while not taking herself too seriously.
Read our full Q&A with the moody, electronic-pop singer below.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you thought about throwing in the towel and doing something “practical” instead?
Not really, there's never been a "plan B" for me. Sometimes that bothers me but no use worrying about something I have no interest in focusing on right now
What has been the most challenging aspect of your musical career thus far? What’s been the most rewarding?
Actually releasing something. I always worried about my songs not being "ready" and that has held me back a lot. The rewards keep coming now that I have made that first scary step.
Who is your spirit animal?
Pegasus from Disney's Hercules, AKA a flying puppy-horse.
You were homeless in the midst of writing this EP, is this correct? Can you talk a little bit about that period in your life and what kept you inspired during this time?
Not during the writing actually. The music on Mack's Tape had been completed for some time. I was going through a dreadful heartbreak with Dan [Gerbang] who had created the music with me. I knew I wasn't going to scrap the project I just needed to get back on my feet. That inspired me tons. The downtown loft I had been living in was filled with ghosts and it was too painful to stay put. I packed up my car with my life, threw the rest in storage, and called up all my friends. I spent a month couch surfing before finding my fresh start. I had been taken in by the most lovely individuals who cared and wanted to help. I learned a ton about myself and it was a beautiful experience during such a dark time.
Do you have any proper musical training or did you just learn everything on your own?
Nope! I grew up singing along to anything and everything. I liked my voice and wanted a reason to use it. Got my first guitar for my 15th birthday and didn't put it down. Watched people play on YouTube, pausing and playing till what I was doing matched. I still rarely know what I'm playing!
What’s is it like being a musician dating another musician? What do you love about it? What do you hate?
It's tough. It's so so tough. It's dangerous and passionate and terrifying. Yet so incredibly rewarding. I love how much we can relate to one another and teach each other from our own experiences. I love the support and understanding that comes with sharing the same vision and goal. I hate the distance, the egos, and the competition. There's some sense that at any moment everything is going change and shift direction. Not sure if that's unique to musicians, maybe just more in the spotlight.
What can fans expect to see from your upcoming tour? Will you only be singing songs from MT?
I'm playing everything I have released and a few I have yet to put out. Many of which I have never performed live for any audience. Pretty spooky. Wish me luck!
What is your favorite song on the EP? Why?
That's hard! They all mean so much to me. "Before We Sleep" may take the cake simply because it's so real. The lyrics are just sentences ripped from my journal entries and warped to rhyme and the music really drives the emotion behind it all.
Will you be adding more songs to it soon or release music under a completely different E.P.?
I'm not totally sure. I put Mack's Tape out to a small audience. Id like to see those songs reach more ears. So just depends on how many more songs I put out next I suppose.
What was the concept behind your video for “Underprivileged Pleasure?”
"Underprivileged Pleasure" was the first song I made with Dan and the pictures I wanted to paint with the lyrics were simple. The priceless details of feeling good, warm, and happy. This is the first time I have ever written any kind of video treatment. I wanted to show myself having fun and dancing through a day in the life. Passing love around with the people who surround me and ultimately show them coloring my life.
Your press release reads “'Before We Sleep' bluntly describes sex as the physical band-aid for when times get tough between two lovers…” Do you feel like you’ve ever had sex with someone because you thought it would make them stay?
Not stay, more like shut up. Things get mixed up in arguments. Communicating can be scary and extremely difficult. But physical connection sometimes is just pure and a portal to what's there at the core of it all. That being said, "Before We Sleep" to me is a sad song. An angry song with no real solution at the end.
When do you make your best music? When you’re in love or when you’re heartbroken?
Both! When there's strong emotion behind whatever I'm feeling, I'm gonna get something juicy out of it. Maybe not right away, but after I have digested whatever the experience is, I'll get it out.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you as an artist, your music, or the direction you're headed in the future?
I'm just here for a good time. I hope to inspire and connect to everyone I can for as long as that makes sense. Let's boogie!