For most struggling musicians, the narrative of “making it one day” is something that is seemingly out of one’s reach or control—but it has undoubtedly been written in the stars for Mac Ayres.
Delving into music posed as second nature (a reflex, if you’d call it) for the Long Island native, sprouted from the pure enjoyment of performing and the euphoria that comprises connection through sound. For him, clasping the microphone ushers a wholly individual persona, eluding outside noise to command a voice that is wholeheartedly his.
Following his first self-titled concert in Manila, Mac Ayres shares with Complex Philippines the embrace of his local fanbase and the defining and redefining of his authentic sound.
From your Long Island roots, where Billie Joel reigned supreme, to integrating the great Stevie Wonder’s artistry into your upbringings, how has your music taste/influence developed/changed over the years? Does Stevie Wonder remain your primary influence?
I think in the past couple of years, I’ve opened up to a lot of other music I wasn’t normally listening to. I used to think I wasn’t learning anything or growing as a musician if I wasn’t listening to some early 2000s Soulquarians stuff. I’ve learned that as I grow as an artist/person, I always want to find new music to draw inspiration from. But, I’m pretty certain that Stevie will always be the pinnacle of music for me. He is everything I hope to be not only as a musician, but as a songwriter, singer, and performer.
Please tell us about your newest studio album, “Comfortable Enough.” How does the creative process of this compare to your previous releases?
The creative process for “Comfortable Enough” was definitely much different from my previous albums. I always loved the idea of making an album tracklist that has its own message. I was really inspired by Knxwledge’s album “1988” to try it out for myself, so I wrote a poem and divided up the words into 16 tracks. Once that was done I was just basically writing songs that already had titles, and trying to make them not only cohesive with one another but just good songs on their own, too. It was like putting together a puzzle, and it was certainly a fun and exciting challenge to have accomplished.
With the surge of R&B/Soul artists, how do you continue to bring something fresh to the industry?
I’d like to think that I stand out simply by being myself. I’ve worked and practiced my craft my whole life, and I am always trying to improve. I think it’s easy for people to fall into thinking about themselves comparatively in this social media era of the music industry. I want to stand out because I love and respect the history, the technology, and the language of music. It’s something nobody can ever know everything about, and that has always fascinated me.
Your first show in the Philippines was in 2019 where you shared the stage with fellow international acts. How has your Filipino fanbase grown since then?
Ever since our performance, I immediately knew that the Philippines loves some good, live music. I was always excited to return, but I was absolutely blown away by the Manila crowd this time. It’s such an amazing feeling to see people come to a headline show, and it’s even more special to see it happening somewhere this far away from home. I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel here, and the crowd made me feel extra comfortable on stage.
You mentioned in a previous interview that pursuing music was initially not a priority, but the joy and fulfillment of performing had you hooked. Is this still what keeps you going?
Yeah, I think I always wanted to have this career, but as I got into my old teenage years, I started to question how realistic it was. At a certain point, I was all alright with the idea that I would just be a bar musician for the rest of my life. Because at the end of the day, it is all about the joy. For me, there’s nothing like the feeling of being on stage. Hearing people singing songs that I wrote in my Mom’s basement. It’s still as unbelievable to me today as it was seven years ago when I started. I hope I never lose the joy of that because sometimes the industry takes you away from all that. But it’s always been about creating honest, good music and being able to celebrate that with your fans at the shows.
What is in store for your Filipino fanbase? Do you plan to make another stop in the country soon?
Hopefully, I’ll be back very soon! I am always writing and working on new ideas so hopefully, I’ll have more music to play for you next time I come back.