Ahead of her debut at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival on 26 October we chatted with singer/songwriter Macy Gray about everything from partying in Ireland to what it’s really like being on stage
Congratulations on your new album The Reset. It sounds like it was a real collaboration with your band. How important is it for you to have the right people around you?
“The right people, that’s everything. That’s like any team, you gotta have the right people if you wanna win. That’s in life, that’s in family, definitely in what I do. And then there’s the whole energy thing. It’s hard to operate around people that you’re not comfortable with or who don’t treat you right or don’t have good intentions. You try to keep the same people around you but it’s such a high turnover in entertainment because people get different opportunities all the time. Most people in music want to do their own thing. I’ve been lucky. My band was with me for 10 years before I did The Reset. So, we were pretty tight.”
You’re opening The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Are you looking forward to being back in Ireland?
“Oh yeah, we love Ireland. We party out there so much. Every time I go, we go to that square and I get some of those Guinness slippers, they look like a glass of Guinness. I always go and buy some for my kids and my mom. It’s an interesting place. It’s a little smaller than where I live in LA. It’s a different kind of culture. It’s a vibe out there that I don’t really feel in many places. There’s like an energy going on that’s really cool. I remember the first time I went there, we stayed at Bono’s hotel. He invited us to come stay there and I remember the whole band stayed in that one building and I’ve never partied that hard in my life, so that’s what I’ll always remember Ireland for. There was so much to do and the nightlife was crazy. I was still pretty new and I’d never done anything quite like that so it’s always a special place in my heart.”
What is your favourite part about touring?
“Touring is like it’s own universe you know, getting out on stage. I wish everyone could experience that because that’s the only place you’re going to feel like that. You’re on stage and people are screaming out your name and people get excited. In everyday life, people don’t jump up and down when they see me but you know when I get on stage and say, ‘OK, everybody scream’ and they all scream, you feel like Jesus up there! It’s like it’s own planet. And it lasts for an hour and a half and then you go back to, you know whatever. It’s definitely something I wish everyone could feel at least once in their lifetime. It’s wild.”
Do you have any advice for musicians starting out in their career?
“I just tell every kid to practice. You have no idea the things that fall in place for you when you get to be great at what you do. When you’re getting really good at something the opportunities that open up for you are amazing. People start seeking you out to do really interesting things and I know it’s corny, people saying I just want to be better, but that’s very real. The better you get at something, the more the world just comes your way and I think that’s with anything not just music. It’s hard to give people advice in music because everybody has their own path, everyone’s got their own way. It’s not like you get a degree and then you get a job. It’s very all over the place. But the best thing you can do is just keep practicing.”
What inspires you?
“Things come along in your day or month that really hit you in the heart and make you want to write about it or sing about it or get on stage and tell everybody about it. That doesn’t happen for me every day but I think when it does, that’s usually when I go and decide I want to make a new album.”
Macy Gray will play the first gig on the Opening Night of the 2023 Guinness Cork Jazz Festival – Thursday 26 October. Tickets are €38.50 plus booking fee. The gig starts at 8pm in Cork Opera House. See guinnesscorkjazz.com for tickets.