The making of a true artist does not happen overnight, just as the cultivation of the artist’s dream does not merely occur. It takes time and energy, patience and persistence, self-belief and a tenacious spirit to become what you dream, regardless of the obstacles and roadblocks. This is story of an artist that has been a part of the dream making and the dream taking. To realizing stardom only to lose it, all the while never giving up on what is meant to be. This is the story behind Merv Mac, Australia’s freshest RnB talent that is by no means a novice to the urban community.
Many will know Merv Small from his early days as a member of the popular and multi-talented RnB group Breed, a strong band of South African born, Australian raised singers that quickly rose to national fame with their smooth and polished sound and good looks. Strong contenders at a time when urban music was still treated as a passing phase in Australia, Breed stood out and stood up for the cause and their sound and style went on to champion respect and accolade. Nominated for Best Urban Act at the UMA (Urban Music Awards) in 2005 set the stage for Breed’s takeover when things changed, directions changed and the group unfortunately went their separate ways. So much talent, so much potential, so many careers to re-consider.
During that challenging time, Merv decided to keep at the music game, perfecting his flow and style and breaking away from what he was with Breed to who he is as Merv Mac. It was a long road for him, especially going from being in a band to all of a sudden being a solo artist on the rise. Allowing the process to grow at an organic pace, Merv stretched himself as an artist and began to explore his range and style. Joining forces with the DeltaBravo team, Merv’s stars began to align and his solo career gained legs. Working with the likes of RnB star RL of Next on his single Bad Girl kicked open the collaboration door and critics started to take notice of this rising star. Merv Mac has toured the country performing from Sydney to Perth and back again, wowing the audiences with his talent. With his single discography containing pure hits in Bad Girl, Cheerleader and his latest release Hot There, launching Dec 6, Merv Mac is steady gaining moment. Hardworking, humble and focused, Merv Mac has his eye on the prize, the prize being a consistent, successful and progressive music career creating his sound his way. There is something that can be said about an artist’s hustle and a lot that can be learnt watching an artist chase his dream and never falter in attaining it. Merv Mac is proof to the adage of hustle in silence, let success make the noise ….brace yourself, it’s about to get mighty loud!
How are you Merv? I see you doing big things in the music industry my friend – very excited for you? Can you tell me what your journey has been like thus far since your BREED days?
Thanks Maxine – happy to be here. I can say it’s been a tough trip since I branched out on my solo career. Growing up performing in a group and then having to start again on my own hasn’t been easy. But if you want anything bad enough you’ll find a way.
What has been the greatest challenge for you would you say forging a solo career from a group based career? The highs and lows?
I’d say not having the camaraderie that you have with the boys, the support network and also the creative collective you have in any group/band. The biggest low would definitely be my 1st solo show opening up for 112 – I took for granted that people would react positively to what I do (as they had in the past) that show was an eye opener for me and brought home the harsh realities of being a solo artist. But it wasn’t all bad as that was the start of my association with Danny and Delta Bravo. The highs would have to be my recent trip to the states where I produced a track for a Brooklyn rapper – Living Proof (who is signed to Memphis Bleek’s label) we also shot the video for it as well. While I was there I got to record a track with another Brooklyn native – Priceless, which was also surreal. Just to be in the home of hip hop and being able to make music has been a childhood dream of mine. A very close 2nd to that was having the opportunity to release a track with R.L from R’n’b group Next.
To give people a better understanding of Merv Mac, how would you best describe your style and sound?
I guess in 3 words – Feel Good Music. I’m not out here trying to preach to people or talk about being from the streets. I just like to make positive music that people can have fun with or relate to. I’m a fan of music & sound as a base element so I like to play around with different genres. I’ve produced a few Electro type tracks, I’ve performed with and recorded tracks with rock bands and I’m producing/working with a few different artists with varying musical backgrounds. I think in today’s music landscape you can’t limit yourself to one style or genre – if you’re open musically to try new things I think you capitalize way more on the chance of getting your message out and more people hearing you.
For those that remember your earlier music days, you were part of a very successful “boy band’ if you will called Breed – which was made of up 4 South African young men with an amazing penchant for rhythm and melody, kinda like an Aussie version of Boys 2 Men. How was it for you being a part of that group and when the decision came to go your separate ways what motivated you to stay in and continue a solo career? Are you guys all friendly still or is it a case of different lives now?
Being in Breed made me who I am today. We are all cousins and have been performing together since we were like 7/8 years old. So you don’t really ‘leave’ something like that. It just got to the point in some of the guys’ lives that they started having kids and settling down – and that’s part of life so you can’t be mad at that. We all dedicated so much time and effort to what we were doing that it was only natural that it would someday get to that point. In terms of continuing to do music for me it wasn’t really my choice – it’s who I am, I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to!! And we all still talk and hang out and see each other regularly. We’ve been working on some new material so who knows what’s in store – I’ve also just performed some recent shows with Darren Jerome so we are all still tight as ever!
What are your thoughts on the urban music industry in Australia Merv? How do you see your role in this community and what do you feel makes you different from any other artist out there right now?
I think urban music in Australia is at a really good point at the moment – it’s taken a while to get there but there’s definitely some really good artists coming up and more importantly the support and acceptance of local talent is growing. I started performing in clubs at a time when it was unheard of and not cool doing original tracks and now it’s the norm and it’s really good to see that. For me personally, I see my role as a link back to a time where urban music was fun, not to say today’s stuff isn’t fun but there’s a certain old school – feel good vibe that some of the new stuff is lacking.
You are associated with Delta Bravo Records and have been on the support act trail for a while now building up that momentum for your music. Your new single Hot There is getting solid nods in the community – how would you describe the relationship you have with Delta Bravo and the feeling of making the music you want to make?
I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for Danny and the Delta Bravo Family. And I that’s exactly how I describe the relationship – it’s a family. The belief and acceptance of what I’m doing could only come from that kind of environment. A lot of people doing what we do are out on their own agenda – and that’s fine, but when you do things out of the goodness of your heart and just because it’s the right thing to do – people respond to that and we’ve been blessed to be able to work with people who share the same values.
The artist that inspires you the most and why?
The artist that inspires me the most isn’t a musician – he’s a UK landscape artist by the name of Stephen Wiltshire. He suffers from Autism but has an unbelievable ability to draw a landscape perfectly from memory. Someone like him who is dedicated to his craft and totally emerged in it and produces world famous artwork all the while dealing with the hardships of Autism is amazing.
What do you think it is about our artists here in Australia that has been appealing to the international music community to want to collaborate with over the past few years? You have a track you made with RL of Next right? How was that working with such an amazing vocalist and do you have any other surprise collabos in store for us?
I think it’s the whole vibe of Australians being seen as ‘exotic’ and different to US artists. When I was in the states as soon as I was introduced or told them I was Australian they bugged out! Especially now that there’s a strong growth of talented artists coming out it’s only normal for them to take notice of what we got going on here. Working with RL was just crazy. He was a professional and a gentleman from day one. I sent him the track I produced on a Friday night and got woken up by a call from Danny Saturday morning asking if I heard the track yet. And to our surprise we had only asked for a hook – he had given us a verse that he rapped – I didn’t even know he could rap! It was a spin out. And when we shot the video he couldn’t of been more easy to work with – we just gelled immediately, you see some of the moves we do in sync which weren’t even planned. I still stay in contact with him now and I’m proud to call him a friend. As for other collabs? We may have a few other aces up our sleeves – I still have to pinch myself sometimes when Danny says “can you email a track to…..”
What would you say is your biggest motivator in this life & why?
I’d have to say my biggest motivator is not letting my friends, family and my son down. I’ve been doing this for a very long time and they have all supported me through the good times and bad. I work hard to repay their belief.
Where do we see Merv Mac in the next 5 years?
At least one gold record! Releasing more albums, continuing to produce for other artists. I also plan to work more in the states so definitely making some noise internationally. And just continuing to have fun with music!
For more information of Merv Mac, his music, performances visit: www.itsdeltabravo.com
Always Hip Hop