Nine8’s apex talks collab, confidence and his new project.

Photography by Elif Gonen

Photography by Elif Gonen

Being multifaceted as an artist trying to build a legacy is becoming increasing significance. No longer can one rely purely on a great vocals, or nuanced instrumental skill. Not many artists have as wide ranging of an artistry as Mac Wetha. First building a name for himself in the industry as the leading producer of one of the most forward thinking and provoking collectives in recent UK music, Nine8, he has since branched out on his own sonic journey, reclaiming his image and redefining his artistry, unleashing an angsty, punk-driven solo EP Make It Thru in ’21.

Mac has spent his time over the ensuing few years collaborating with a vast array of names in the UK and wider alternative scenes, as well as continuing to augment his own individual musicianship, performance and writing style. This has all amalgamated into his latest body of work, Mac Wetha & Friends 2. A combination of the stylistic techniques he has become renowned for as both an artist and a producer, the new project is the best representation of the sonic manifesto and persona of the budding musician to date. With features from an array of the UK’s most pinnacle up comers, including Bawo, Rachel Chinouriri, Lord Apex, Biig Piig and spill tab, it’s a magnificent showcase of the eclectic talent that UK alternative music has to offer, and flaunts Wetha’s unparalleled ability to bring together fresh and exciting creatives.

We had the pleasure of catching up with the rising motley talent to discuss his new project, attending college with Dave, overcoming doubt to become a solo artist, and why he loves bringing together creatives.

Listen to Mac Wetha & Friends 2…

Check out the full interview below…

Let’s talk about origins, how did you first find your love for creation and creating music?
I used to live in Spain when I was a kid and my mum was in a local cover band. I always thought seeing her play was the coolest thing. I must have been about 9 years old at this point. My dad is big into music, and he was trying to prime me up to have a good taste in music. We would have these CDs on rotation and he’d tell me “this is good music”. I then started to daydream about performing. Performing in any way was really in my head. I used to do drama and there were always these little plays I would perform in. When I was 10/11 I got access to the internet, and I would go through Youtube and watch stuff. I remember getting really into System of a Down and random shit I would find on youtube. My love of performing and then this really got me into performing and then my parents got me guitar hero and it was game over. Singstar as well, I was playing all these musical games and I wanted to be in a band. I didn’t think about production cause there wasn’t a beat culture like there is now, it was the very early days of youtube. I then moved to the country and started a band with my schoolmates – it all went from there. I got into production when I was around 15, when I started getting into Soundcloud beats. Also, I was getting really into D&B and Dubstep and sampling. I thought it was so cool to go on youtube and find a cool sound that you could sample into a beat. I remember the first song I ever mixed was just hundreds of sounds I’d sampled. I would have a topic – like music – and I would just find random words from videos and make a song from it. I had way too much time on my hands. Then I went to college and met all the people I’m still friends with and collaborate with.

Q: When you were in college with all those guys, how did that then become the Nine8 it is today?
Quite simply, Lava (Ava) and I were in the same music class. It was Lava, Biig Piig, Santan Dave and my friend Harvey Corn (a producer). One day Ava told me she had a proposition for me and she pitched the idea of Nine8 to me. I think she was singing and reading poetry over music, but she wasn’t a rapper. She then asked me to make some instrumentals she could read her poetry over and that became her rapping. She was pitching this idea of Nine8 being a platform that could bring as many people together as possible, she would use the words ‘trading creative currencies’ – you make a beat for me, I’ll make some artwork for you. Not that strict, but it was just a creative community. The vibe of the college I went to was the same. It was kids from everywhere and I grew up in Kingston-upon-Thames, so it’s a pretty small town feel. Richmond College – where I went – just had people from everywhere, so that was one of the greatest times of my life. Meeting all these new people and hearing these different viewpoints, it was crazy awesome. Nine8 was almost an extension of that ethos, most people who were involved went to that college as well. Ava started putting on these events trying to unify all these people from around London. I’ve just met so many mad people from Ava’s want to bring people together, she has a mindset of ‘if you shine, I shine’ and it was all about lifting each other up. It just kept going and became what it is today.

Was that always in the back of your head – you’re almost changing the culture from within?
Yeah, I suppose so. We didn’t think of it so literally, it was just a natural thing. Ava definitely had that vision for a platform – originally it was an online platform and it wasn’t a group, it was more of a collective. People obviously went and did their own thing, so the core people became the group it is today. We still try to bring artists we like on tour with us to work with other people.

You’ve got a really wide range in musicality and style, how do you construct that? Is it your influences, the people you work with, your background?
I just make stuff that I want to hear, and I’ve got a mad range of stuff I like. I also collaborate a lot with other people. I’m trying to make stuff I like with people I like and I’m trying not to think of how it comes out. I think the more you think about that, people in the industry like to put you in a box so they can market you. All the artists that pop off have their thing, and that’s how it works and some people make their music. I was a producer for so long and collaborating with people for so long, it’s a big mash up of stuff and I like that. Now that I’m working on my solo stuff it might become more refined.

You said that performing and acting was something you wanted to do, was it about finding the courage to do that?
It was a perfect storm, really. I’ve been in bands since I was 15 and we’ve been pretty active, writing a lot and doing stuff every weekend. In 2019, the band was breaking up but I was performing in Biig Piig’s group, so I was still performing quite a lot. I was cool with that, still had my fix. When Covid hit, it was like fuck. I already make beats and produce by myself and the rest of my time was spent on performing, but in my room by myself the energy really went into my producing full time. The band ending was a part of it because I was the singer. I have a side group with Jess (Biig Piig) and the guys I was in the band with, and I do sing with them. I have had it in the back of my head since I started the Mac Wetha thing, that I’d like to put some vocals on it. I wrote a couple of songs that fucking sucked, and my manager agreed. I kept working on it and eventually wrote ‘Culver’ which was the first song that Archie – my manager – and I agreed was good. It kinda just went from there. I made the ‘Make it Thru’ project with my friend Jim who I still work with today, just put it out and gauged the reaction. I’ve just been learning how to do this solo stuff since then, it’s not as simple as just singing over my beats. Since then, I’ve just been learning and experimenting, probably another reason why it sounds all over the place. With music, I like to just write something I like and care about and then just put it out to get the public’s reaction. Maybe that’s a bad thing and putting too much stock in people’s opinion, but there’s something about putting it out there and learning from it. Even if I’m uploading it onto Soundcloud and listening back to it, there’s something about it.

Did you find that intimidating at first, going from being a producer and singing in a band to becoming a solo artist?
Yeah completely, I still do. Even today, I was looking at some reviews of my stuff that I’d never seen before and so many of them were scathing. It upsets me. It shouldn’t because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it stings. I’m putting myself out there and have to take that criticism. Being a producer, you’re literally behind the scenes, it’s much less pressure. I’ve always been that guy in the chair pressing the buttons. The bands I was in was pretty heavy music, somehow getting on stage and screaming is so much easier. I was performing gigs where it was just my mum, or where people were looking at you like you sucked, but it wasn’t as scary. It’s a lot more tough being a solo artist and the criticism hits harder, but it’s something I’ve got to learn to deal with.

What was the creative process for the new project?
It kind of varied for this one. With the first project, I was just making loads of stuff with loads of different people. I would have a beat I really liked that shouldn’t be just an instrumental, and I’d finish doing something with an artist and I’d be like ‘yo I’ve got this thing I’m working on for my project’. Some of it was made in just one day. A quarter of this project was made in LA and I was working with people I knew or had mutual friends with, we’d just be seshing and then we would make the song. Just a pure, inspired day. Other songs, I had a beat for a long time that I wanted to work with and I’d call a mate and we would just make the song. Like the first project, I would have some verses that other people did and realised I could sing over it as well. Obviously there’s a track with Biig Piig and I really like that song. It’s a big mish mash of stuff and it’s been a stressful seven or eight months.

It seems like you’ve combined the beats of Mac Wetha and the vocal side of things, you’re actually on there singing. It also seems stylistically like a combination of the two, was that intentional or did it just come out sounding like that?
It’s just how it came out, I guess. It’s just the result of collaborating even more or instrumentally. I think every beat was me, I mixed and mastered it all myself. That’s why reading the reviews that mention the mix sounds off is like, ‘oh yeah, it was me it definitely was’. It wasn’t necessarily a thought-out thing, it was just from the way the collaborations came out. I definitely want to make more songs. Working with Max Wolfgang and Dan Holloway on the ‘Falling in Love’ tune, they’re such great songwriters that they can really push that out of you – that’s one way that a collaboration made what was just a beat or idea into something awesome. It’s just a sketchbook of ideas and putting people on it. I’m just trying to push everything out there and get some feedback and learn from it, until I’m 70 years old and make my magnum opus. I want as much experience as I can get.

A lot of the names on the project are great artists. Who – realistically – is on your collaboration bucket list?
I’m just gonna tell you exactly who’s on my list. First of all, I’ve worked with her a lot but I’d love to get Deb Never. Dave, we went to college together and we were quite close at college but I haven’t seen him in ages. Last time I saw him was when he was blowing up, so I’d love to see him and just reminisce on our college days. Aminé I’ve worked with quite a lot over the years. Bebadoobee, I always support her and would love to work with her. I just always meet a lot of people, and I’m such a stan of so many people, obviously some of them are going to blow up and do great things.

You seem like somebody with a lack of boundary and constriction in your musical style, where do you want to take your artistry?
I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve come pretty full circle with it. I’m just back to sitting down and doing whatever I want with it. That works best unless I have a conceptual idea I want to work on. I just want to keep working with my friends and work on fun stuff. Also, get better at the guitar and piano, producing. I’m starting a podcast – like a longform interview with people from Nine8, people I know who don’t have a platform where they can just sit and chat for 2 hours. I also want to stream and just make some beats, do a beat battle.

Just to finish, why do you make music?
There’s literally nothing else I would want to spend my time on. I’m lucky that I’ve never had to think about what I want to do. It’s brought me so much joy. Making music brings me the most happiness because performing and working with my friends and travelling are the three things I enjoy the most. In terms of a purpose, there’s nothing else I’ve got to do. I’ve got to do this.


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