Mac Wetha is all about doing things his way. In a world where TikTok has a major say in what’s going viral and getting airtime, the 24-year-old vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ is known for having a real DIY attitude. As he tells HUNGER over the phone: “Part of me is aware of the abundance of playlist music, essentially, you know — copycat shit and jumping on trends for the sake of getting playlisted. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re a musician, but you gotta strive to do something original, something true, something real…”
Wetha has been on the rise since becoming one of the founding members of the radical arts and music collective, NINE8, as well as cutting his teeth on production creds for the likes of Amine, Lava La Rue, and Biig Piig. But this year, he well and truly struck out on his own; after releasing his Mac Wetha & Friends 2 mixtape in March, he debuted the single ‘iBD’, revealing a more self-assured musician, confident in expressing his vulnerabilities alongside his musical chops. Below, we catch up with Mac about this next chapter in his career, and where he sees himself going next.
HUNGER: Going back to the beginning, can you just talk us through a little bit about your upbringing. Did you always grow up in London or?
Mac Wetha: I had a bit of a weird one. I was born in Hillingdon, which is near Heathrow, and I lived around that neck of the woods for a while. Then I lived in Watford and went to primary school there. After that, I moved to the south of Spain. I lived there till about 12, and then I moved to Kingston.
How long were you in Spain, and how did you find it?
Wetha: About six years. My parents told me I fucking hated it at first. But I ended up really liking it despite some hardships. I lived in a small town; there were like 4,000-5,000 people there, which isn’t that small, but it felt like it after coming from London. And then I was bullied terribly at school because I was literally the only English kid in the whole time. I got the shit kicked out of me all the time. But as I eased into living there, I ended up making friends with the kids who were kicking the shit out of me, and then I was just one of them. Eventually I loved it.
Shifting gears, what kind of music were you exposed to while growing up? What did your parents listen to?
Wetha: Bro, the music in Spain on the radio then and even now is fucking awful. It’s just like 10 to 15 years behind what should be being played. So yeah, Spanish radio wasn’t really an option apart from flamenco, which is incredible. It was basically just CD’s in the car. My dad used to play Damian Marley, Stone Roses, and lots of early Kanye [West]. So still to this day, Road to Zion and Late Registration are my favourites. Then I got Guitar Hero, and it all changed. It was the start of me being on YouTube all day, just listening to different music and being like what the fuck is this! I’d go down the Youtube rabbit hole. I remember so clearly seeing [System of the Down’s] ‘Chop Suey!’ for the first time and being like this is so stupid this is so weird, these guys are freaks, but then I just couldn’t stop listening to it. Eventually I was like man, this is it, this is me.
How did your parents feel about you pursuing music?
Wetha: They’ve always been nothing but supportive. My dad’s been an electrician his whole life and he basically wanted me to not do that. He’s always said that I’m very lucky to know what I want to do. Anything anyone has ever said was always fuel to me. Literally from the age I started working regular ass jobs, I was motivated to do as much music stuff as possible. I really owe it all to my mum and dad for being so supportive, it’s such a blessing to have them. They didn’t have the money, but they had the support, you know?
This year you released your second mixtape, a single, and then you’ve been doing more and more shows. Would you say it’s been a big year for you?
Wetha: I don’t know… It doesn’t feel like that. It always needs to be fucking more, like I want to be on constantly and playing shows every day. So when I’m not, I’m just like, what am I doing? But it’s been good because I’ve been able to write a lot of music and I’ve been here in the studio a lot. I guess it’s been a big year.
Speaking about the shows and stuff, would you say that’s the most fulfilling part of creating music?
Wetha: 100 percent, yeah, and people coming up to you after shows and being like ‘oh I love this song’ — that’s definitely great.
Your music doesn’t fit neatly into one genre; it explores various sounds. Is this a conscious decision to avoid being boxed into one category?
Wetha: To be honest, there have been times when I felt I should pigeonhole myself a bit more to help my career. It’s easier for artists once they’re pigeonholed. People like to identify artists with a specific image or sound. Someone like, let’s say Teezo Touchdown is incredibly original and cool as fuck and doing his thing, but you can really picture him and his silhouette and what he’s like. But, I also feel that I shouldn’t overthink it. It’s more effortless to be authentic.
You’re part of NINE8 Collective as well. You guys were massive in shaping the UK’s underground, internet-led scene that we have now. How do you feel when you look back at the early days of that?
Wetha: It was just a really special time and went by so fast. Not to be tooting our own horn, but I feel like you can see the effect that we had at that time and how it manifested. Obviously it was a community thing, it wasn’t just us, the whole kind of scene around that time was collaborating. I just look back on it with a lot of fondness, man.
How do you feel about the UK scene and where it is right now?
Wetha: Part of me is also quite aware of the abundance of playlist music, essentially, you know, copycat shit and jumping on trends for the sake of getting playlisted. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re a musician, but you gotta strive to do something original, something true, something real. But there are lots of artists pushing boundaries like Jim Legxacy and Tendai. Oh and then there’s TikTok, I think we’re coming to the tail end of that a little bit, but for a while it was like this person is blowing up with this original sound, and then suddenly there’s 30 others getting signed for the same thing. It’s just like landfill music, which is not what anyone should be about. So, I’ve got kind of mixed feelings, but I think the scene is about to get really interesting.
Definitely. Let’s move on to some quickfire questions. What song would you play to get a party started?
Wetha: That’s a tough one because it depends on the crowd. Maybe ‘Millionaire’ by OutKast or a Rosalía song. Reggaeton always gets people going.
If you could pick an album to soundtrack your life, which one would it be?
Wetha: An Alphabet of Polythology by Captain Jazz. It means a lot to me and had a significant impact on my journey as a musician.
What are you currently working on, and what can we expect from you in the next few months?
Wetha: I have a song coming out next month, but I can’t say much about it at the moment. I’m working on writing solo music and want to release an album next year. I’m also producing for other musicians and starting a podcast to have long-form conversations with fellow artists. I think that’s something that’s missing right now — intimate stories and connections within the music scene.