Macy Gray Interview – ‘Stripped Tour’

Macy Gray is a couple of days away from kicking off her ‘Stripped Tour’ promoting her recent album ‘Stripped’ The album has a huge Jazz influence, Macy tells us more about how she is an “Undercover Jazz singer” and what to expect at the Manchester gig this month. She is in Switzerland working on a new video and just finished a warm up gig, she takes some time out to chat to us.

How did the warm up gig go?
Yea great, we are staying in the hotel here working on some new stuff and a new video so we did a small warm up show before we go on tour.

‘Stripped’ is your 10th album why have you decided now to release a jazz album?
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and the opportunity was presented to me by the record label Chesky Records and I wanted it to be different, so I went through with it and was happy to do it.

You’re appearing at Bristol Jazz Festival in March? is Jazz something you’ve always been in to?
I really started out in jazz, that’s how I learned how to sing, I’ve grown up in jazz clubs my whole life, and I’ve always loved jazz, I’m an undercover jazz singer.

The album ‘Stripped’ has got some classic song covers on their Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ being one of them, is it hard to take it from a reggae song to a jazz track? What’s the process?
It’s not too difficult because of the people we worked with on this album, we have a great band Russell Malone, Ari Hoenig, Wallace Roney, and Daryl Johns, we had four instruments and then we just got to work, we played around with it and then got to recording it.

I really started out in jazz, that’s how I learned how to sing, I’ve grown up in jazz clubs my whole life, and I’ve always loved jazz, I’m an undercover jazz singer.

Where was the album recorded?
We recorded it in abandoned church in Brooklyn, just me and the band no reverb no editing just recorded it raw. There was one microphone in front of us It was a lot more relaxed, without all of the extra input.

Is that a daunting prospect as an artist?
It wasn’t too scary but when you know that it’s not going to be changed you think about what you’re doing a lot more and how you’re doing it, you have to be more aware but the band were amazing, it sounds raw and it sounds real.

…the shows are going to be high energy its going to be a mix, not necessarily just jazz and its going to be high intensity.

You are playing in Manchester on March 18th, what sort of show can people expect? are you going to try and recreate that jazz café vibe?
No not at all, the shows are going to be high energy its going to be a mix, not necessarily just jazz and its going to be high intensity.

You are playing some beautiful venues on the tour are there any you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
Not really any in particular, I’m just looking forward to them all, the whole tour.

When touring, do you get much down time out, to look around cities you’re playing?
Not on this tour I don’t get much time off.

Its quite an intense busy tour isn’t it?
Yea I think were visiting 29 venues, no I’m lying 27 venues over the space of 40 days so there’s a lot of travelling and lots of driving so I don’t really get much downtime to relax.

How does this tour differ from others, are you taking a full jazz band?
No were travelling with the same band I always do when I tour so it’s not that different from previous tours.

The video for your latest track ‘White Man’ dropped last week it’s a really powerful piece of film did you work much on the video or have much input.
I wrote the song and then I got the director for the video in, its actually a director whose based in London called Caroline Khouri, we chose from a few directors but after that I let her do her thing, I didn’t get involved in making the video, I’m really happy with what she’s done with it its turned out great.

New album out this summer, can you give us any clues on what to expect?
Yea ‘White Man’ will be on it and were working on another video at the moment its going to be high energy it’s not going to be another jazz album and yea, I can’t wait!

You can catch Macy Gray at Manchester Academy 2, Saturday 18th March. Tickets available £37.50 http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Macy-Gray-tickets/artist/722333

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