When it comes to Mac Ayres’ talents, age is truly just a number. He may just be 23 years old, but the artist/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer has a vintage soul. Rather than chasing trends in the R&B space, the singer drives back to the source, whether it’s tapping into funky ‘70s grooves or ‘90s-inspired pre-Y2K futurism. Ayres draws inspiration from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, as well as producers like J Dilla and DJ Harrison.
After dropping out of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, the Long Island native emerged in 2017 with debut EP Drive Slow. His DIY approach to music continued with 2018’s debut album Something to Feel and the sophomore Juicebox the following year.
Now, Ayres eased into 2021 with his latest EP: Magic 8 Ball. Released in January, it sets the tone for (hopefully) a brighter, calmer, and more romance-filled year that’ll ease your mind from 2020’s anguish. Opener “Sunny & 62” drifts listeners to the palm tree-filled breeziness of Los Angeles, “Sometimes” is a comforting dose of Stevie Wonder-inspired soul, and “Where U Goin’ Tonight” is a rocking jam that will soundtrack many parties once it’s safe to scurry to the nearest dancefloor.
“I like the idea that life is sort of a toss-up. Also, the number eight is very important to me. Kobe [Bryant] was a big influence on me,” Ayres tells SPIN of the title’s significance. “But also I played baseball my whole life and the captain of my high school baseball team tragically passed away a couple of years ago. He wore the number eight. It seems funny to say how much you could learn from high school baseball at a school on Long Island, but he really taught me a lot about being a good teammate and supporting your people. I want to carry on that sentiment.”
In a video interview with SPIN contributor Bianca Gracie, Ayres discusses the EP while leaving everything up to chance — literally. Keeping up with the EP’s theme, we actually sent the singer a magic 8 ball to be the conversation’s guide. Not knowing what the outcome will be, Ayres’ responses are equally thoughtful and witty. Between asking the magic 8 ball if we’ll ever find love again or if Ayres is an undercover pessimist, he also unveils the journey of making the EP.
Check out Ayres’ conversation with SPIN below.