Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Macy Gray chats to FOCUS about her upcoming tour, where her career began and other anecdotes …
Where did music all begin for you? How and when were you discovered?
That was, I think, in 1996. I was in Hollywood and I was doing all the clubs, the Sunset Strip. There are heaps of rock clubs, and it’s where a lot of the unsigned bands are … So, I was doing that whole trip with my band, and one night I was at the Roxy – it was like 7:30 – it was the time when no one was coming to shows and there were eight people there. One of the people happened to be a man named Tom Carolan who was the head of Atlantic Records. I don’t know what he was doing there – I think he was there to see another band after us – but he saw us and after the show he invited me to showcase for Atlantic. He signed me almost on the spot; I got an offer a couple of days later. I don’t know how he got there – it was totally from God.
Not only are you an amazing musician, but you’ve also had some acting roles. Tell us about this …
Yeah, I did my first movie Training Day, and then I got a few really good movie offers after that. I don’t know if I’m a proper actress; I have actress friends … they get up out of bed every day, they workout for two hours, they know all the movies, they know all the directors and go out to dinner all the time so they can schmooze roles … I don’t do that. I do that with my music though – I kinda feel guilty when I call myself an actress, ‘cause I know the hustle is totally different to what I do. But, I’ve been lucky to get some really nice role offers and when I have time and when I’m not booked up touring, I do enjoy it. I just don’t get to do it as much as I like.
Who inspires you in life?
Tonnes of people! My mother’s a very strong personality; she has a lot to do with who I am and I have a crazy father, so that explains that, but I’ve had a lot of mentors along the way.
More than anything though, my mother … She’s not the type to say, “Oh, you did so great”. I don’t think she ever complimented me once until I got older, but she always introduced me to new things; I was one of those kids who knew how to swim, I knew how to play volley ball, I took archery, I took karate, I took piano lessons, I travelled all over the place.
She just taught me not to be afraid of anything and that anything was possible; she taught me that I could do anything … I think just introducing me to new things and putting me in situations where I had to figure things out on my own, I just learnt that I was powerful as a person and I could do what I put my mind to.
Is that something that you instil into your own children?
I try to! You kinda don’t know what they’re picking up. The things they remember, like some things you say you don’t think are important and they never forget; it’s hard to tell what they’re soaking in.
What are you looking forward to the most about touring this time?
Just playing – I mean, I love being on stage. Australian fans are super duper and I get to go to places I haven’t been, which is cool. We are all really excited about it – the band is over the moon! It’s all they talk about.
What would you say has been the biggest highlight of your career?
Getting a chance to see the world, ‘cause when you’re dreaming about what you want do, you think of things like you’ll get to be really popular, and you’ll have lots of money and lots of men will be chasing you, and cars and stuff like that … But you never think about all the travelling you’re going to do! So before my first album, I hadn’t been out of the country, and I’ve been able to see some really wild places that I’d never even thought about, like Serbia, Russia and Latvia. There were places I hadn’t even heard of … who dreams of going to Poland? Or Australia?
How do you spend your time when you’re not being Macy Gray, the performer, the musician?
Well, what do I do? Oh God, when I have a show and I don’t have to be fit and work out, I just sit around and eat. I eat and watch movies – nothing is better than that. I dunno … we do stuff, we take trips, regular people stuff.
Do you have a hidden talent or hobby you’d like to share with me?
(Laughs.) I’ve been told I talk in my sleep; I guess that’s a talent! Everyone can’t do that, right? Like I have full on conversations in my sleep; is that cool?
Plans for the future?
I’m gonna make music ‘til I die. I have a lot of things I wanna do; I don’t know if they’re gonna happen … but you know, everyone has a thousand dreams. We’ll see … I don’t like to think about the future much, but I do know I’m gonna make a lot of records and I’m working on writing a musical and stuff like that. I could totally bore you for three days about all the things I wanna do.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
My record is really awesome, and they should get it – and I can’t wait to see you all in Australia – and LIFE IS GOOD!
This article was from issue 116 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.