‘In terms of genre, you need to mix it up to stay original because everything’s been done: The best way to do something fresh is to do alchemy’
By Evelyn White
A widely agreed sentiment amongst Generation Z is that fitting into a specific music genre is now redundant. Mac Wetha’s new genre-bending single ‘Dani Song’ from his upcoming EP ‘“Cloud Paint'' embodies this feeling, beginning with a Pink Pantheress-inspired jungle beat and moving into a guitar-heavy pop punk chorus. A founding member of the inspirational Nine8Collective amongst the likes of Nayana IZ, LorenzoRSV, PiigPiig and Lava La Rue, the talent and success that has followed for the young creatives is undeniable. Mac tells me how the collective was born out of a need of space for growth, individuality and connectedness: ‘At that time everyone was learning how to collaborate but also [learning] more about themselves through one another.’
In light of the success of Nine8Collective, Mac’s individual style shines through in his upcoming EP “Cloud Paint”. After hearing a sneak peak, I tell him that the sound is reminiscent of Busted, a comparison that leaves him indifferent. It becomes clear as we speak that he doesn’t welcome comparison. Nor does public opinion on his recent single phase him: for Mac it's about creating music that he is proud of, regardless of what fans might think. Delving into the inspiration behind his new single over Zoom, he smiles proudly when he tells me it's about his girlfriend and surrendering to a dependency that often comes with falling in love.
Congratulations on the release of ‘Dani Song’. What was the inspiration behind the track?
Sonically, I was quite inspired by Pink Panthress. I had this deep double bass sound in mind - a jungle type beat - so I started making the bassline. Dan Holloway had a huge hand in production on that, he did the keys, and I wanted to make the chorus as heavy as possible. As for the subject matter, it's about my girlfriend. It's about the ups and downs of being in a relationship, how that manifests in everyday life and the kinds of emotions being with someone can bring out in you. That experience of having someone so close to you… Someone who knows everything about you and you know everything about them and how that impacts you. I’ve never had a relationship so strong with a girlfriend so it’s quite a crazy thing to be honest…
Why did you all decide to start Nine8Collective? What was the general sentiment at the time?
The mood at the time in London felt quite cliquey and created even more of a competitive energy then than there is now. I definitely felt that at the time… The idea was to create a platform that was more community based where it felt like we were all backing each other, rather than competing. I think we did well in that it was like an orbit rather than a select few members. Everyone’s so well connected now - everyone fucking knows each other so it feels more like a family vibe.
Would you agree that the collective was a good way to come together and collaborate whilst figuring out their own individual style?
For sure. At that time everyone was learning how to collaborate but also [learning] more about themselves through one another. Bouncing ideas off [each other] collaborating and doing live shows - live shows were a big one too. Lava would put on shows which were meant to be Nine8 shows but everyone would end up coming and meeting.
Tell me a bit about how you produce your songs. Is it a collaborative effort with the artist or do you bring them the tune completely ready?
It depends. At the start I would just make beats and show them to Ollie (BoneSlim) and we’d work on those together. Then I started showing them to Lava (La Rue) when we met in college and BiigPiig. When Nine8 started and it became collaborative it was very much a joint effort to execute an idea. With “Mac Wetha and Friends”, I had quite specific ideas of instrumentals I wanted to make. Like the ‘Spit in Your Face B’ tune - I was really obsessed with making a ‘Bubba Sparks’ type beat - the idea was kind of 90s Hip Hop mixed with rock music.
The scope of production is quite dynamic with regard to the genres you work with. Do you agree that Gen Z has more of a ‘genre-less’ taste in music?
It’s not like we have punks and rockers and ravers in seperate groups like we used to. I remember my [uni] lecturers telling me that the most important thing is to carve a niche for yourself. I get that to an extent but at the same time, I think in terms of genre you need to mix it up to stay original because everything’s been done: the best way to do something fresh is to do alchemy.
What’s it like to work with Dirty Hit records? It feels like there are some sonic similarities to your music with Beabadoobee and the 1975 too.
We’re all essentially doing a similar thing. I never really got into the 1975 but after signing with DirtyHit I picked up on their music and got really into their latest album [Notes on a Conditional Form]. It's something that could be said about all music where you hear something you like from one piece of music and take that aspect and make it your own. It's nice because it's nostalgic and familiar but something new at the same time. DirtyHit are also really keen for us all to collaborate and be friends which is cool.
What makes the ‘Cloud Paint’ EP important to you since moving towards a more independent space with your music?
It's my first project where I’m collaborating with another producer and writer. I feel like my production took a backseat and we focused more on the song as a whole, my vocals and getting the guitar sounds right. Being able to take that step back from production allowed me to focus on what kind of song I want to make which is a defining moment for me as a producer. It's similar to my last project but done in a more thought out and well executed way that was really focused on as a project in itself.