by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Josh Mac

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Josh Mac

While Christchurch musician Joshua MacGregor, aka Josh Mac, is fairly new to the scene, he definitely isn’t new to making music. Primarily he calls himself a singer but has been playing the piano for many years, as well as a few other instruments he’s picked up along the way to help with songwriting and musicianship. Creating music with his best friend and producer Struan Finlay (Capitale), he made it on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation with a catchy pop tune called whenicalledyou

 What’s the background to your recording as a soloist?

As a kid I always loved music and singing, I didn’t take singing seriously until my voice broke at the age of 13. I had been songwriting since I was about 11 so I have been doing it for a good eight years now. Right after I finished school in 2016 Struan Finlay, who I had never met, contacted me and asked if I wanted to work with him. I was a good writer and singer and he was good at producing so I thought… “Why not?”. So the first session we had together I wrote our first single Burn Away in a couple of hours, and the rest is history.

Why the Josh Mac abbreviation?

Yeah, my given name is Joshua MacGregor. I thought that sounded too formal for the kind of music I was making, so I shortened both my first and last names to Josh Mac and thought that sounded pretty chill. A lot of people called me Josh Mac in school anyway, so I just went with it.

What makes whenicalledyou stand out for you as a single?

whenicalledyou is a really special song for me because it’s the first song that I really felt comfortable with my songwriting, and felt like it was a really good representation how I communicate in my everyday life. I didn’t hide much, I sort of just shared my feelings as they were and I liked that. whenicalledyou was the song I really got excited about what else I was going to make in the future because I felt it had a really unique vibe and personality to it. I wanted people to feel good when they were listening to it and feel like I achieved that.

What is the story behind the track?

I wrote whenicalledyou very soon after a break-up. I was listening to a lot of break-up songs at the time to try relate to what I was feeling, but they all were pretty bitter and I wasn’t at all bitter. I wanted to write a break-up song that was about moving on, and respecting the person you are no longer with. It was a way of me saying, ‘I know it’s over, but thank you for being a lovely girlfriend – I think, I owe at least that to you.’

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyric, in the single?

It’s hard to pick one but I love the emotion both vocally and melodically in the pre-choruses and the bridge, that gets me every time. I also like the little scat after the first chorus. I sang it accidentally but we ended up keeping it because it’s different, and I like different.

Got any fun stories about the making-of?

I always do the writing by myself. When I write I have a million things flying through my head about what I want the song to sound like. I then take it to Struan and tell him my vision for the song and we’ll try to make that as best as we can. When I wrote whenicalledyou I told him I wanted to make a really fun chorus out of me, like screaming, so we did, and now the chorus is filled with 30 or so of my crazy screams giving it some life. I just remember making the song and thinking I just want to be different, I just want to be unique. I had a big desire to make songs nobody has ever heard before.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

I would love listeners to listen to whenicalledyou and to be able to feel at peace with letting someone go, to look at things positively and roll with the vibe.

How do you work out what song would make a good single?

If I think a song won’t make a good single I won’t record it because I don’t want to be an artist that settles for, “Ah yeah, that’s good enough.’’

Can you name three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song?

Nakita – Cool With You

Liv France – Nostalgia (out soon)

Robinson – Crave You

How many often did you apply for anything NZOA related? 

I’ve applied twice and was blessed to get in both times.

How can we find you on social media?

Instagram: @joshmacmusic
Facebook: @jmacmusiq
SoundCloud: @joshmacmusic
Spotify and iTunes: Josh Mac
YouTube: @joshmacmusic

Who did you create the video with?

I made the music video with just a whole bunch of my mates, so it was a very active and fun few days with lots of craziness and laughing.

Any last words?

Hopefully not yet… I have music to release. x