It takes a lot of nerve to let go and start from scratch, but that’s what Meg Mac did to create her new album Matter Of Time. The first iteration of the Sydney songwriter’s third album was finished and ready for release before the pandemic. However, after realising it wasn’t a true representation of herself, Mac scrapped it and sought a change of scenery.
2020’s lockdowns presented the perfect opportunity for Mac to escape the city and reset amid the open spaces and solitude of rural NSW’s Burrawang. It was here that she dusted off some old demos, reworked some existing tracks and spun her fresh perspective into sonic gold.
Meg Mac – ‘Is It Worth Being Sad’
While sequestered in the countryside cottage, Mac traded WhatsApps and voice demos with co-songwriters like PJ Harding (Lil Nas X, Noah Cyrus, Ruel) and production duo The Donuts (Kendrick Lamar). The final result is a bold, brooding, heartbreaking and candid body of work.
Music Feeds caught up with Meg Mac to chat Matter Of Time, changing up the creative process and the tracks that reignited her love for music.
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Music Feeds: Matter Of Time has been years in the making. How are you feeling now that you’re finally sharing it with people?
Meg Mac: Yeah, it feels real. Especially when you start answering interview questions, you’re like, “Oh, wow, I did it.” It has been a long time, but in that time I made two albums. It was really scary to make this one. But now that it’s done, I’m like, “I made the right decision,” and I’m so proud of this album. I really, really like it.
MF: You recorded a lot of the album in remote NSW during lockdown. How much do you think the secluded location impacted how the album turned out?
MM: I think it was really important for me to do that. I don’t think running away from your troubles is the best advice, but I think it did work for me. I just had to get out of the situation that led me to where I was at. It was a change of scenery and it was so different and quiet. It was locked down as well, so we were trapped in the house anyway so you may as well be in the countryside.
It was the perfect place for me to reinvent myself and slowly take apart where I’d gone wrong and start to piece together this new album.
MF: It sounds like the ideal conditions to get creative. Would you do it again? Or was seclusion something that you specifically needed for Matter Of Time?
MM: I would definitely do it again, but maybe go somewhere else overseas. I’d really love to try making an album in person, because a lot of the writing and the creative stuff I was doing here. But when it came to actually recording the album, it was through WhatsApp with people in LA and sending files back and forth and going to Sydney to record vocals and sending them over. So it was a really disjointed process.
I’d love to find the group of people you’re going to make the album with and kind of just stay in one place and make it. That’s a goal of mine.
MF: You mentioned there were some “mistakes” you made on the first iteration of the album. What were some of the mistakes or compromises that you felt like you made?
MM: Some of the songs [on Matter of Time] were on the original album that I threw out, but they weren’t right. I would listen to the voice memo of when I wrote the song and I was like, “That’s the feeling that this song needs to have.” But then when I was listening to the fully produced album version, I was like, “That isn’t right.” Somewhere along the way, it had lost the essence of the song. So I think that was the biggest part for me.
I think I was just rushing to make this album. The songs were good – it’s not like I had this terrible album – it just wasn’t right and when I compare it to what I have now, this is so me right now. I put so much of myself into it, and I didn’t have as much of myself in the other version.
Meg Mac – ‘Matter of Time’
MF: The song ‘Matter Of Time’ is one of the songs from the original album that made it to the finished record, right? Did it change much between albums?
MM: That song is pretty much exactly the same. That’s the only one that actually survived the old album and is on the new album kind of untouched. We just did a bit of additional production but didn’t really change it, which is interesting. And then that became the title of the new album. It wasn’t the name of the other album.
It’s so weird when you listen to the lyrics of that song because I’m talking about how I’m not in a great place. I’m like, “I’m about to snap” and “How long will it take?” “It’s only a matter of time before I do something.” And then I was like, oh my god, because then after that I snapped.
I’m singing, “I’ll make it, I’ll make it.” I wanted to make this amazing album. That’s freaky to dissect those lyrics. It’s like this weird, spooky premonition about what was about to happen to me.
MF: ‘Is It Worth Being Sad’ was one of the first new songs you wrote in those 2020 sessions and it came from a writing game with a friend. What was that game and how did it impact the rest of the songwriting process?
MM: We were calling the game, “challenges.” My friend would ring me and we’d make up a rule each for what the song had to be. Then at 5pm, we had to send the idea. And it could be anything you wanted, but it just had to be in those guidelines.
The rules for that day was that it had to be a vocal intro. So I did a loop pedal thing. I just started singing over the top and as soon as I sang, “Tell me is it worth being sad?”, something just went click in my brain.
It sounded different to anything I’d written before. It felt like a path had just opened up into a new direction. From that day on and from that song on, I was like, “I can do this. I can make this album.” I think that there are a few songs on the album that were little challenge songs.
MF: The last track, ‘Head On The Pillow’, is one of my favourite songs on the album. I love how the strings close out the album. What was the significance of signing off with that song?
MM: It was a toss-up between ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Head On The Pillow’ and I just love the idea of being like, “Head on the pillow, goodnight.” That’s how you end it, with your head on the pillow. That was challenge six that we did. I wrote that on guitar and then put it on piano. I worked with Dylan Nash on that one and he was like, “We should have strings,” and it turned out to be pretty epic.
- Meg Mac is launching Matter Of Time with an exclusive and intimate show at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory on Wednesday, 21st September.
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