Nathan Mac is a thoroughly experienced performer who has spent the last two years of his life touring and performing for Dublin's native crowds. With a creative niche, Nathan compels with an innovative live show; however, his music is something to behold on its own. With the active collaboration of his producer, Brain Dwyer, he's been working on releasing a project he calls, "Start of Something Blue." Through this musical endeavor, we happily welcome the newest single from our young authority in indie-pop.
"I'ma keeping my tongue-tied down...cause I feel like I'm drowning, do you feel like you're drowning?" Nathan Mac sings in some of the most profound opening lines of "Better Off Without You." However, his sadness has a hopeful twist: The chorus reveals that he's committed to and is still fighting to keep the relationship alive—in the right way. The well balanced Dublin based singer-songwriter's first new single since last year's memorable "Carolina" doesn't change much from his mellow, melancholic style, but it still feels like a revelation. "Better Off Without You" blends his interpretations of indie, pop, and R&B into an understated yet exceptional style that feels increasingly familiar. This song vibrates with classical piano, and swooning reverb washed vocals, both seamlessly blending with the tight low end and airy pads below the surface. Nathan's lyrics happen upon great details, eccentric enough to feel relatable, and his whispery vocals style quiver with just suitable enough emotion to devastate—in the right way, of course. When Nathan confides, "I need more than 100 days, you mean more to me than music...more to me than faith," it's a moment so compelling and convincing that you may notice some of your own emotions trickling down from your eyes.
Listen to "Better Off Without You" here.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Nathan! We're excited to be featuring your newest single, "Better Off Without You." Can you tell us more about some of the experiences you've had working on this tune? Was this a relatively new experience you chose to write about or has this been in the works for a long time?
That excitement is something we share, thanks for having me.
Working on this song was a completely new process. The song itself was written in a weird moment. I had gone through a pretty rough breakup, my Circus/Music show had finished and I left my job at the National Leprechaun Museum (which was an amazing job). This combination of loss and empty space in my life sent me down a dark road. I found this song, amongst others, along the way.
The production of this song was completely the opposite mood. Producer Brian Dwyer and I had never worked together. We had met only once, but very quickly we found a brother in one another. The writing helped me mourn the loss in my life, but the production helped me to celebrate it.
You're no novice to working the scene and performing live. Can you tell us about some of the most memorable experiences you've had while touring or performing live?
The most memorable moment… that’s a tough one. During my Circus/Music show “The Boy Who Learned To Fly” there was a moment. The crowd wouldn’t stop clapping and shouting, and I couldn’t get a word in! So I just stood there, center stage, and let the sounds wash over me. It was a love I had not felt as a performer before and that unconditional support brought me a kind of peace.
There was this other amazing moment in London. My friend and guide Ema had told me about a bookshop, on a barge, along the canal. (It’s embarrassing how many of my boxes this ticked.) It was such a wonderful little shop too and on such a sunny day. I stopped outside, dropped my suitcase, guitar case, and struck up a conversation with a man sunbathing on a deck chair. He asked me if I was there to play on the boat… so, of course, I said yes! I took my guitar, stood up on the book-barge, and sang my heart out to about 500 people enjoying the sun by Kings Cross canal.
It goes without question that some of the most compelling features of your compositions are your lyrics. Is there a specific inspiration you try to draw from when sitting down to write? Is this a person, a place or a feeling?
Lyrics I could talk about for years so I’ll try to be concise. My friend/mentor Trisha O’Keefe told me once that songs can be sexy, sweet, or anything in between, but they have to be intimate. That’s what informs most of my lyrical decisions, but there’s more... You want to acknowledge and confirm someone's life with your music. I want to hear a song and think “they know how I feel”. In ‘Better Off Without You’ there is a line, “I feel ashamed because I broke a smile today.” Countless people have told me that they have lived this moment. That’s the power of lyrics; they are from songwriters, but they are for everyone.
One tangible inspiration is Khalil Gibran. An amazing poet and philosopher. Like all good writers, he confronts us with truths that are tough, and real. In this song, I say “nobody told me that boring was easier”. It’s my favorite line because it’s true, even though we don’t want it to be. This song is not about a harsh reality, but a boring one… ‘you’ll be fine.’
One more thing! I think lyrics like mine should be rooted in the physical. When I create metaphors they need to make sense to people, physical sense, or else they just float away and mean nothing. So trying to physically imagine the scene or metaphor really grounds the truth in reality, and that’s what we share. So when I say “your sweaty fingers try to hold my mental state”, this connects our physical world(sweaty fingers) to our concepts of the world(mental state) in a way people understand. Okay, I’ll stop there…. That’s my TED talk.
Thank you so much for being here with us, Nathan! It's been a pleasure, and we're excited to feature you again sometime in the future. Can you tell us a little bit more about your forthcoming project, "Start of Something Blue."?
Again, thanks for having me. It’s a nice opportunity to air out the ego.
There are some things I can tell you, but I can’t go into too much detail. “Start of Something Blue” is a series of singles. My background in Circus has given me a strange freedom to mix and match every form of art and call it a whole. There will be more and more songs of course, but there’s a children’s book in the pipeline, and some collaborations with Musicians, Circus artists, Dancers, Painters, etc…. This project is really my first opportunity to show off everything I’ve learned and I’m going to throw everything I have at it. This project is what I can do when I’m surrounded by supportive, talented, and loving people.
What can we expect to see from you throughout 2020?
2020 is definitely a mystery for all of us right now. My Irish and European tours have been essentially canceled, but I can guarantee more music. I can guarantee more amazing collaborations too with artists from all around the world!
Every day I’m learning about new ways to connect to people that are listening, and I’ve been learning a lot from listening to those people. A lot of big questions are floating around my mind these days… So if there’s something you can expect from me in 2020, it’s growth. I’m still in the process of coming to terms with who I am, as a person, a man, and as a musician. In that order.