In the doom and gloom of the deep New Zealand winter, MACEY’s new single Summer Grunge is here to sweep listeners away to happier times. Gearing up to release his debut album, MACEY has a lot to say about the bittersweet song and his new mission to use his artistic platform to truly speak his mind. I sat down with MACEY to talk about the release, life, art, and his creative process.

Summer Grunge follows the bursting synth energy of The River, which dropped back in May. Both songs offer a taste from MACEY’s upcoming album, The Lovers. In true throwback fashion, The Lovers splits into two sides, like a vinyl record, with Side A releasing on September 2nd. MACEY explains the album as a “chronological song-by-song story of growing up and learning about life’s punches”, processing adulthood’s rollercoaster of “massive lows and highs” through cool and embracing indie-pop. 

Although some listeners may be fooled by the lack of credits to MACEY’s Spotify account, he’s been busy working in music for many years. MACEY only recently adopted this stylish new moniker, having gone by Harry Parsons for around a decade. But this rebirth demanded it was time to “put Harry to bed”. In renaming his art, MACEY has found a fresh start, excitedly moving into “a new phase of creation” for his sound and style.

This new direction bears a “heavy focus on guitars, bass and drums”, and a wistful throwback sound shrouded in “lush production”. Summer Grunge exemplifies that dreamy style. Its inspiration came from a road trip reconnecting with old school friends, spending eight long hours together in close quarters, yet still feeling perfectly content. That summer roadie sparked strong emotion for MACEY. “We were all figuring out what we wanted to be and where we wanted to go… (we knew that) at some point we might lose touch completely,” he says. “It was a really bittersweet feeling”. 

In creating from that poignant place, MACEY concentrates on the “honesty and rawness” of his lyrics, which he says will feature prominently throughout The Lovers. When he croons, “I don’t know if we’re changing for good or bad”, it’s almost uncomfortable to sit with the feeling — a dead giveaway for a powerful song. 

That vulnerability also shines through in the studio details MACEY points out as personal favourites. Listeners who know the song’s iconic cowbell made the song only because MACEY’s producer and co-writer Ben Malone couldn’t cut it from the mix, or that the song’s stunning strings were recorded at Parachute Studios with the magical Auckland Philharmonia string quartet, will realise MACEY and his fellow creatives’ passion feels almost tangible.

But whilst Summer Grunge is clearly such a special collaboration between these performers, MACEY’s songwriting process isn’t always so team-heavy. Whilst some of his songs are born from busy team sessions, others start as voice memos alone in his car, or “mumbled words” and “jams on the guitar and piano”. Eventually, these are given the full studio treatment when it’s time to add production. “It really depends on the situation”, MACEY explains. “If I’m in a session with others, I find it best to just sort of see where the room takes us, be as open as possible and not be afraid to throw my ideas out there!”

MACEY describes himself as “the ultimate rebellion to the social norm”, a term that doesn’t come lightly. It summarises his desire to speak up about honest feelings, to “tell the truth and not shy away from the sometimes ugliness of it all”. In a world where admitting the embarrassing parts of life’s ups and downs can mean risking social judgement, it’s important to MACEY to express himself through music as earnestly as he knows how. That earnesty glitters on Summer Grunge, and will undoubtedly define this exciting performer’s upcoming work.