Based: Cape Town
Emotively submissive, fun and raw talent are just three of the many ingredients that make Paige Mac the quintessential collective the world is fast embracing each time lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Paige Mac Mahon strikes a chord.
Two years ago, while Mac Mahon was still plotting her master-plan on how she intended getting us all sat up and listening to simply extraordinary song writing, not even she could have assumed where her music would soon have her headed.
Blessed with a multiple octave range, the ability to put pen to paper and lyrically reveal her inner most thoughts and emotions, her 20 years of life experience is effecting more likes and friend requests than all of her KZN born-and raised frame of reference combined.
For Mahon her musical journey began in a farmyard with her older middle brother. “He used to play this tiny guitar and always closed his eyes when he played,” she recalls. “I was fascinated. I wanted to feel what that guitar made him feel. And so… I picked it up, placed my porky nine-year-old fingers on the oak frets and of course, I was absolutely rubbish! So rubbish in fact that I was often locked out the house for my passionately awful strumming. Regardless of my family’s lack of encouragement at the time, something about the way my fingers pressed upon the fret board, the way my hands flopped over the strings, as I strummed rhythms, made me realise two things. One, I loved guitar! I didn’t ever want to stop. And two, I’d probably needed some help or people would literally die.”
Humble, surprised, and most often delighted, these are just some of the many reasons the pint-sized prodigy is as enchanting to meet and greet as she is to hear play and perform her ever-expanding and influential repertoire. “It’s exciting and also quite unreal,” she admits when asked how she’s enjoying the ripple effect of her debut single “Atrophy” and her three other tracks that make up her and fellow cohort (bass player and cousin) Garry van Vuuren’s 2012 Universal Music debut release A Moments Nostalgia.
“Music is an outlet, a route of expression,” she explains. “It’s an uncensored story of the revelations in the journey of my life. It’s there, in the music, that I develop these heightened emotions into chord progressions and melodies.” Melodies expressing disappointments, heartache, frustrations, love and joy – they’re all etched into stories that each sum up what Paige Mac is.
“How did this happen?” Paige questions. One listen to “Atrophy” quells the question and releases a well of raw emotion very few musicians can claim to trigger. Think back to when you first heard Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Cars” or Toni Childs’ “Stop Your Fussin”, each teased the periphery of musical gratification as Paige does with her multiple tiers of pop possibility, all neatly wrapped up in tracks the likes of “Wish Upon A Star”, “Trading Dreams” and “Just Like You”.
Acoustic soul with a folk edge, call it what you will, the music that Paige Mac makes and Garry adds bass licks together the duo turn heads and stop pedestrians, mid stride, each time a live performance happens. “The music Paige makes is very emotionally driven,” Garry explains. “We each work to our strengths too. Me to the bass line and Paige completely committed to the vocal. We work to our strengths.”
As 2013 kicks into high gear, pre-production has already begun along with Fetish, Watershed and Sugardrive production wizard Brian O’Shea on board and tweaking what will become one of the year’s most important new music releases. Acoustic six-string guitar agility and simplicity coupled and reinforced by a double aural assault. One vocal – the clincher lyrical – combined the effect is pure aural bliss. “Things have not changed from what “Atrophy,” hinted at,” Paige explains. “Now there’s simply more. I am at a stage in my life where creativity and the ability to deliver it, along with my cousin Garry, is realising some great results. I have never been happier.”
Buffered by a record label that gets what make makes Paige Mac tick, thanks to the legend watchful eye and trained ear of Benjy Mudie, Paige and Garry’s year in music is fast unfolding as one of the most fruitful for the twosome. “We’re working towards the next level,” Paige admits. “I’ve always wanted to present my music properly and Universal have given us the opportunity to do just that. Real commitment, of any kind is rare, so when it shows itself my gut tells me to grab it with both hands and not let go.”
Fluff free, Paige Mac’s music is weighted where real substance sits atop melodies not trying to fill space, but rather making the beats between the bars breathe. “My stories are my own,” Paige professes. “My lyrics are all about touching people and how they have touched me – the point of music, we all connect here. If, as with “Atrophy”, my new songs can elicit emotion remotely close to what it took to write that, then I guess I’m doing ok.”
With Pop acts, light in longevity and a dime a dozen, Paige Mac is the exact opposite, a respite and a vaccine to the mundane. “The next chapter, post A Moments Nostalgia, is on the up and up,” Garry alludes in conclusion. “Everything Paige does is very emotionally driven, hinging off a guitar track and vocal.” Add bass licks and Marcus’ beats and you’ve got Paige Mac 2.0, an exciting place to be if you’re hoping and expecting to get more than you bargained for… and then some!
Mac Mahon may have lost her mom before she was a teenager due to illness, but today she, and her pioneering band, are breaking ground, telling cathartic tales and winning fans at every stop along the way. “And here I am,” she concludes. “An out pour of emotion, a guitar in my hand and a melody in my heart. But you know what the best part is? It’s only the beginning, and I really do believe that hardships often prepare the ordinary for extraordinary destinies.”