Undoubtedly, the best part about the Singapore Grand Prix being a night race are the exquisite after-parties you can go to right after the high-octane action. This year, The Podium Lounge is back for its ninth iteration from 15 to 17 September, and as always, it promises to be a star-studded event. Ahead of the show, we catch up with Macy Gray, the American R&B and soul singer with the recognisable smooth and raspy voice.
Hey Macy, we know you’ve talked about this before, but can you tell us about your life before you got famous? And how did you get into music in the first place?
I started playing music when I was 7 years old. When I got to college at the University of Southern California, I used to hang around school bands and a bunch of other musicians all the time, and I began writing lyrics for them, so I could hang around this guitarist I fancied at the time. One night, his singer didn’t show up, so I got the opportunity to step up and perform as the lead singer, and the rest is history! When I became famous, I got married and have subsequently had three beautiful kids.
When you were recording “I Try” did you have a feeling that it was going to be a huge hit?
Not at all!
We’ve read that you thought the success went to your head, can you tell us how it changed you as an individual?
I think it’s part and parcel of the industry that we’re in, and a process we all go through with success. The difference is just that some handle it better than others. For me personally, I started to party a lot more than I used to, and this began to affect my dedication to my music, which is my life and soul.
Can you tell us about the drug use? How did it start? How did it affect your career? Would you change anything about your time using? What made you want to go sober?
When I was on the road, I had access to a lot of things and I got carried away. I finally put an end to it when I started using everyday, which didn’t make me feel good about myself. I quit when it got to the point where all it did, was make me feel bad all the time.
It’s vanity, really. At a certain age, drugs make you look good; you wake up, throw on some sunglasses, you look great. Once you get into your thirties, it takes a long time to shake it off. I was like, “I can’t do this anymore, it’s starting to show!”
Let’s talk about your latest album, Stripped. What was the inspiration behind recording an album comprising covers and old hits?
It was something I always wanted to and Chesky records gave me the opportunity to do that so I took it.
I also started out in Jazz. That’s how I learned how to sing: jazz standards at clubs. When I was growing up, jazz was still really popular. It wasn’t such a small world as it is now. We used one microphone for the entire recording process, which took just 48 hours. Back in the day, that’s how they made records. It’s a very natural sound. It’s for people who are music aficionados – audiophiles.
Nothing Else Matters is one of my all-time favourite songs. How did you decide on a Metallica song? Does it hold any other particular meaning for you?
Yes, I think the lyrics are fantastic and made for a really interesting jazz version. It’s one of my favourite records.
I like what it means to me. For me, it’s this thought of where we could all be in the way that we approach things, see things, and deal with things. You’re just reminded of what’s important what really matters at the end of the day. When it first came out, I wasn’t a big heavy-metal fan – I always liked Metallica, but that wasn’t my favourite song by then. I’d never really listened to the words – and lyrics are the most important part of a song – until someone was performing it at this nightclub. It was a non-heavy-metal version, so you could really hear the words he was saying. I just really fell in love with what that song means to me.
What was it like working with Chesky for this record?
It was fantastic. Chesky Records approached me about doing a record with them, and I thought about it, and I decided, fuck it, let’s try it.
You’ve performed in Singapore before, how do you like it here?
I love Singapore and I always look forward to my trips here. I can’t wait to come back!
What can the audiences at Podium Lounge expect from your performance?
Catch Macy Gray at The Podium Lounge on 17 Sep. Get your tickets here.