After establishing himself on the scene with his vibrant initial offerings 'My Brain Is Fucked' and 'Golden Boy' earlier this year, emerging artist Kenton Mackay ****** has now returned to share his brand new single 'Royalty Free'.
Lifted from his forthcoming debut EP of the same name, which is due out soon, 'Royalty Free' continues more of that raucous indie-rock energy he has been cultivating for himself. With its bold and driven textures perfectly elevating his distinctive vocal style throughout, he is continuing to shine as one of the more impactful names on the rise right now.
So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has been inspiring him lately.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
Guitar. I have a distinct memory of watching “Rattle and Hum” with my dad and becoming obsessed with the guitar. I was 5 years old, and received my first non toy guitar for my 6th birthday. I didn't really take to the lessons, but I was lucky that my parents encouraged me while I just banged around on it and made noise. My 3 siblings were not as enthusiastic. I started actually trying to learn songs when I was around 10.
What kind of music did you love when you were younger?
In my younger years I really only listened to my dads music collection because that's all I had access to. Lots of U2, Bruce Springsteen, and David Bowie (he thought The Beatles were overrated). But he had a massively diverse collection and a killer stereo. I remember getting really into Billy Idol’s Greatest hits record as a kid. I thought it was really cool that he could have a super aggressive angry song like Rebel Yell, and then a dreamy beautiful song like Eyes Without A Face right after it. When I got my first Ipod I branched out from his collection into Nirvana, Radiohead, and Beck.
What was the first album you remember owning?
The first physical cd I ever bought was Nirvana's third record “In Utero” when I was in 8th grade. I had loved Nevermind of course, but I got completely obsessed with In Utero. I got the physical cd because I wanted to look at the art inside while I listened, which I did a lot of. I really tried to piece together my own interpretation and meaning of that record but really wasn’t able to until I had come to terms with my own self hatred and dysfunctional family in my 20’s. Even if I couldn't assign logic to it yet, just feeling and learning how to play that record was extremely cathartic for me as a young man, and I’m very thankful for it.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
At this point, I don’t really have that wish for any song to be honest. But I definitely did when I was younger. I’ll Never forget listening to Radiohead's “Airbag” for the first time when I was around 12 or 13. To this day it's still probably my favourite song, definitely the one I’ve spent the most time playing on the guitar. Ironically, I remember thinking after listening to OK COMPUTER all the way through for the first time that I could never write anything that brilliant, so I shouldn't even try. Luckily I grew out of that extremist mindset.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
No, the songs I write have always either poured out of me really quickly when inspiration strikes or I let them marinate in my head for a while and then write them when that particular mood or feeling strikes again. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
BRONCHO is always in my rotation. I really only listen to music that reflects the current mood or emotion I’m feeling, but I always seem to be in the mood for something BRONCHO has made. Been spinning “A Light For Attracting Attention” by THE SMILE quite a bit as well. I live in the house The 13th Floor Elevators used to live in and jam in, so I’ve been listening to their records a lot, along with a lot of other early psychedelic stuff.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
If we’re doing the no holds barred lottery ticket answer it would have to be U2. Radiohead would be a close second of course. The Black Angels and BRONCHO are tied for 3rd.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
Definitely writing and recording. I believe I have the ability to engineer and externalise my emotions through music, so that process is extremely rewarding for me. Honestly, it's the only thing I do in my life that I feel I can concentrate on for long periods of time when inspiration does strike.
And what is the most frustrating part?
Making final decisions and releasing the music. I really struggle with letting things go, and I get really obsessive over it. I am fortunate that I found Erik Wofford, an engineer and producer I trust to help me bring the vision to life without “perfecting” it and killing the vibe.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
It's actually from my favourite filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson. Not to me personally, but in an interview he basically said his #1 advice to any up and coming filmmakers is stick to your guns no matter what. He said that people who say they know better (but don’t) are going to try and meddle with your vision. But if you have that vision and feel like you have something to say and a feeling to express, stick to it no matter what. He also said “Take your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously” which is something I tell myself on a daily basis.
Kenton Mackay ******'s new single 'Royalty Free' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.