Macy Gray: We all go “Thru The Same Chit”
photography & interview: Happy Hinds
In 2018 your tenth studio album, "Ruby" was #2 on iTunes! Your first album, On How Life Is, was Top 5 on charts and was released in 1999! Almost 19 years and a Grammy later, How does that feel today?
It makes me happy. We really took our time and nurtured this record and strived for a great album – my best album and I think we did it.
What is your favorite song out of all twelve tracks?
When it Ends. It has this awesome vibe that you could just repeat all day so you can keep the feeling that it gives. It’s the kind that makes you think. Makes you wana slow dance. Makes you want to smoke a j. Make some love. All kinds of things.
Where were you on September 18th, 2018, the release date of “Ruby?”
I was in New York on a promo tour going from radio station to radio station getting Sugar Daddy on the radio.
You said in an interview with popMATTERS that “Just Like Jenny,” as you said ‘is Forrest Gump’s Jenny.’ What about her character inspired you?
She was loose and had a lot of emotions that she didn’t know what to do with. That time in. your life when you don’t know which way to go so you try everything. Sometimes that’s a good thing – sometimes it’s not.
#SugarDaddy Challenge named after the endlessly relatable and catchy song on “Ruby,” on your Instagram [@macygrayday] was Epic! Your fans really put work and planning into those music videos! What inspired you to write a song as prevalent and time-telling as “Sugar Daddy?”
It was actually a concept from Meghan Trainor. She came to the studio and said: “I HAVE AN IDEA!” and she played this piano riff – that’s her on the intro – and we all jumped in. Everybody loved it right away. We finished it that night.
You are always very candid and forthright in everything you do and your following and fans definitely appreciate that about your artistry and definitely this explosive album! You’ve often said that you felt you were ill-prepared for the fame and rewards that you received so early in your career. Do you have any advice for young people entering the entertainment world that might feel the same?
Go for it. Fame is super cool.
What were you doing when you found out “Ruby,” made #2 on iTunes?
In the airport. Actually a fan on Instagram posted it. I think I screamed.
The fourth song on your album, “White Man,” is incredibly important and essential towards the undeniable and widespread sentiment we feel for current events happening in America. Debbie Allen, famous dancer, actress, and humanitarian, began the #DanceForDemocracy challenge on social media shortly after your release, encouraging young people to vote! The challenge was introduced with a moving video of the acclaimed dancer alongside D.A. Dance Academy performing a routine to “White Man,” yelling “VOTE!” repeatedly. Did you know that so many people would relate to the passion and motivation for change expressed in that song?
Most of all I just wanted people to get it. The key lyric is “let’s come together, let’s make it better” and there’s a line – “you’re hating me and I don’t understand” And I think that’s the sentiment of most minorities in America. We’re just people like everyone else and don’t understand the hate and discrimination directed towards us and expressed by our president.
Do you feel that having a Top 5 Album in 2018 feels different from having a Top 5 Album in 1999?
Yeah. It’s such a new day in the music business. Nothing is the same except – the fans still love great records. And I think that will always be the one thing that doesn’t change.
The first track on “Ruby,” my personal favorite, called “Buddha,” gives a very ‘carpe-diem,’ and euphoric feeling, with it’s orchestra violin strings and major piano melodies. Do you feel that attitude has helped you maintain such wide ranging and genuine music throughout your career?
Yes. I’m not a Buddhist but the concept of Buddhism is living for the NOW. And I think that’s the best way to live. Because you can’t do much about the past. The future, you can plan for but there’s no guarantee you’ll even get one so NOW is what you’re left with and you should always make the most of that.
Every track describes something anyone could experience at some point in life. Would you say this album relates to the entirety of the life you’ve lived, as a Grammy award winning singer, actress, and mother-of-three?
I poured my whole life and my whole heart in this record and I think people relate because at the end of the day, we all go ‘thru the same chit.’
As a person experiencing well-deserved acclaim in relatively the same capacity as when you first began, do you have anything you would want to tell yourself upon the release of your first album, knowing what you do now?
Just to be thankful for it.
There is no way of doubting that a recurring theme in “Ruby,” is love. What is your personal perspective towards love?
It’s too crazy to write about. There’s so many levels of it. You can love a man. And you can love orange juice. And you spend so much time trying to sort through it and give it to the right people. It’s simple if you just let yourself feel what you feel but people get so scared and play games and complicate it. I’m happiest when Im loving somebody like crazy.
You said on Wendy Williams’ Show in September, “I’m Alive!” Is there anything you are excited about doing for the first time or doing more of, within your artistry or daily life?
I’d like to relearn how to double dutch.
How does it feel to be you today, in 2018, as a human?
It’s pretty cool.