Macy Gray is getting candid.
Hot on the promotional trail for her single ‘Thinking of You’ with The California Jet Club, the music superstar talked with That Grape Juice about the single, her upcoming album, the legacy of ‘I Try,’ and more.
Join us below for her words on these topics and so much more…
That Grape Juice (Ryan): We’re loving your new single ‘Thinking of You.’ How did the collaboration with California Jet Club come about?
Macy: The California Jet Club has three members, Tamir Barzilay, Alex Hyhn, and Billy Wes, and they have been with me as my touring band for the past – Well, one has been with me about eight years, one five years, and one three years. So, we’ve been together for a while. And we kind of developed this sound. And so, I thought it’d be cool to make a record with that sound, with that bond. And ‘Thinking of You’ was actually not the first, but it was the first song that we finished. We had a bunch of ideas, but that was the first one and we went all the way through with it.
That Grape Juice: Can you tell me a little bit more about the inspiration behind ‘Thinking of You?’
Macy: At the time, it was just really off the top of my head. It was just about – I hate explaining my songs, because I don’t want to do it for other people like their own interpretation. But let me just say that it came to me in like five minutes. So, it must have been something that was already in my head that I was thinking about.
That Grape Juice: You can definitely tell that there’s certainly a personal message to it, and it does resonate with everybody in their own particular way.
After a year, where many of us were forced to kind of isolate because of the Coronavirus. How was it to be back and to be able to film a music video for the song?
Macy: Oh, I love this little comeback that we’re all making. We actually did the video before all that stuff was lifted. But I think everybody got tested first. We had a really good time. For the band, it was their first video. So, they looked really excited and really into it. And it was cool to see that. It was contagious. It made me feel like my first video. So, we had a good time.
That Grape Juice: At least for me, I drew a lot of 80’s inspiration from the video, with the bright colors. Was that the theme that you were going for with it?
Macy: That’s so funny you said that because the one-shot … I’m a huge ‘Birdman.’ You know the movie, ‘The Birdman?’
That Grape Juice: Yeah.
Macy: So, there’s been a couple of videos that I have done one-shot that I’ve seen. So, we definitely didn’t invent that. And then the color changes, which was inspired by this old Weezer video. I forget the name of the song, but they’re on a stage and the lights keep changing. So, we got to put the two ideas together. We got a sound stage and kind of stole a bunch of ideas and made our own thing.
That Grape Juice: It’s been a while since you released solo material. What inspired the break?
Macy: I usually just make an album when I have something to say, when I have the right producer. It has to be for a reason. So, I make albums when it’s the right time for me to pour my heart out.
That Grape Juice: Is there an album coming?
Macy: Yes, at some point. There’s no definite date. We’re shooting for fall. But right now, we’re just figuring out how it’s going to go. And everything is so new now. And so, I think everybody’s going to see that records are released a little differently. People are going to respond to records as far as what they want to hear. And just the mood everybody’s in, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of music everybody gravitates to these next couple of years. So, right now, we’re just putting out great music.
That Grape Juice: In terms of your upcoming album, what can you tell us about the sound that you’re going for? Any collabs, anything that you are willing to divulge about it.
Macy: Yes, so we have one song with Citizen Cope as far as collabs. And then we have another collab coming out that I can’t announce because we’re not done yet. But the rest of the album is done. We are done recording. We’re just going over how we’ll put it out, but the album is done. It’s called ‘The Reset.’ It’s like raw, but rich. It’s grimy, but it’s not, pretty sophisticated. My band has some of the best musicians I’ve ever seen. And it’s exciting, it’s different. It’s definitely fresh. It’s not anything that you’ve heard or hearing right now. So, we’ll see. I just got my fingers crossed.
That Grape Juice: How have you coped during the pandemic?
Macy: I watched a lot of movies. I ate a lot of food. I did nothing a lot. So, that was what was hard for me was like getting back to like, being motivated to do anything, because that just kind of shut me down. And I’ll be at my house with my family, and we would have fun and stuff. But I was like, you don’t have to do anything. But go to a grocery store. It was a nice break for me, actually.
That Grape Juice: As an artist who has truly endured, what’s your take on the current music market?
Macy: I’m curious to see, what’s going to happen. What people are really going to jump on and what a lot of artists are going to come up with. It’s kind of been, I see a lot of artists who’re just back to usual, and they’re doing the same kind of thing. So, we just have to see if that resonates. We have to see if people are over that, if they want to hear something else, if they’re ready to dance, if they want somebody to speak to what they just went through. I think we just have to wait and see. But I like the fact that I was reading this article, and they said that independent records are up to $20 billion business. And that’s exciting to see a lot of artists doing their own thing, and have control of their career and their masters and putting out music where they want. And I think that’s good for the fans, because you’ll hear so much. Like we went through a span where all you heard was like maybe three different genres for a long time. So, I think now, you’re going to hear all kinds of stuff. I think it’ll be really, really interesting.
That Grape Juice: You’re such a versatile act; we’ve loved your collabs with the likes of Ariana Grande and OutKast. Is there a particular one that is a highlight for you?
Macy: I loved all of them, of course. I think the one that sticks out to me the most was OutKast. Especially with Andre, because he like – beat that out of me. I mean, not literally, but he made me work for that vocal. No one’s ever like pushed me that hard on my vocal in the studio ever, still to this day.
That Grape Juice: Through the peaks and troughs, what are some of the key lessons you’ve learned + advice you’d give to those breaking into the music industry?
Macy: I sort of stay away from advice because everybody figures it out their own way. Everybody has their own path. Some people get there one way and other people get there another way. So, there’s no standard, really. I think number one is, just don’t quit because if you quit, it won’t happen. And as musicians, I think it’s important to surround yourself with the best musicians and songwriters, you can find because you can be the greatest singer in the world, but if you don’t have a great song, or if you don’t have a song that people respond to, then it’s going to be difficult for you. So, that’s number one. That’s like if you’re a doctor, you need all that stuff, scalpel stuff if you will, artists you need, you have to have a song. I just tell everybody just keep writing, and go out and find the best songs you can find.
That Grape Juice: How has the experience of having more control been for you?
Macy: It’s so liberating. I feel like we can do it how we want to do it. And I think I have an A1 team behind me. Just because you’re independent, you still don’t do it by yourself. But it is just nice to not be fighting with your label about what they’re going to do or waiting to see if they’re going to be passionate and really push your record or – It’s a different kind of climb, different kind of hustle and it’s nice. It’s so much less stress. Like you might be frustrated with, it’s different to be frustrated with yourself than the other people, because you can’t control them, but you can get really over frustrated and you can figure something out, but you can’t really do anything about being frustrated with other people. So, it’s nice to just have it to yourself and do your thing.
That Grape Juice: Is there one particular moment in your career that you are most proud of?
Macy: Probably the beginning, probably just getting myself in the door. Looking back, at that time, I didn’t know it, but looking back, I realized that that’s a big deal. That’s cool to be able to accomplish that.
That Grape Juice: For sure. And what is the legacy of ‘I Try’ mean to you to this day? Because that song has really spanned time and is still very much a part of our popular culture. So, what does that particular moment still mean to you today?
Macy: It’s just grateful and shock. Like I had no idea that song would be what it is. And still, in shows, everybody knows all the words and a lot of ad-libs and drum feels. Of course, when we recorded, I had no idea. Trust me. You could give me a million dollars, I would not get it that it would have come out like this. So, it’s always cool. It’s a nice surprise.
That Grape Juice: 2021 plans and beyond?
Macy: I’m all in on this album right now. And I have a really good family. I got really good friends. So, kind of just here on the zoom with you. And I am kind of just in the right now, these days, I don’t really know. But, at the moment, I’m excited for people to hear this album.
Macy’s ‘Thinking of You’ is available to download and stream on all music platforms.