EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey is an acclaimed singer/songwriter from New York. The talented pop-rocker has just released his brand new single ‘Learn To Be’, and fans of The Scrip, James Arthur, and Train should love this one.

Here we speak exclusively to Brian Mackey about his new single, music icons, dream collaborations, future plans and more.

Growing up, was music always your main passion?
Music was the only thing that kept me feeling normal as a child, in a pretty chaotic household. It was a touchstone I could return to, to find safety. I’d always run to the out of tune piano or the guitar with five strings on it, and try to make sense of it all.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue music as a career?
This just seemed like a natural fit for me ever since I was really little. I never pictured myself doing anything else outside of what I’m doing now. When I’d see different people on TV like [Bruce] Springsteen or hear people on the radio I felt totally aligned with what they were doing and it just seemed as though from the earliest I can remember I’m doing exactly what I was made to do.

Growing up who were your music icons?
Of course the Beatles. Then it goes in so many different directions, here to name a few: Billy Joel, Jim Croce, Elton John, Harry Chapin, Carole King, Barry Manilow, Nirvana, and Lionel Richie.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment I’m listening to the hum of air conditioner, and wondering when it’s going to breathe it’s last breath. But as far as music goes, I am always changing so much throughout the day and week depending on where I am and my mood. I listen to a lot of classical music, totally unrelated music to what I’m doing, because I try not to be influenced and sound like what everybody else is doing. In my case I want to be as pure as I can without sounding overly derivative. If that’s possible, which I don’t think it’s possible, but I like to think it is :) 

If you could collaborate with any act who would you choose?
I would have to say Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Billy Joel – and Ed Sheeran is a talented chap. You all say chap, right? :)

Who has been your biggest support during your career so far?
I’ve had many people come in and out of my life because of what I’m doing. Ones that will understand for a little while, ones that will be there for the progress, but not there for the stagnation. I look at it as a tree, the winds of change blow and many branches fall. But then there are those limbs that are part of you so strongly, hold you together and make you strong enough to stand up and handle any storm. Hate to speak so metaphorically, but there is a belief in yourself that you have to have, even when believing seems so foolish. As an example, there was many times I’ve been really down about an opportunity that was lost, or something that didn’t go well. And there will be a fan that comes along and will want to know when the next song is coming out. That gives me a lot of hope. There’s lots of behind the scenes stuff that I’m super grateful for and don’t want to lose. So thanks to anyone that’s given me a chance or didn’t give up on me in those times.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you?
I would say #1, listen to me first, come to your own conclusion and tell me what you think, because I still don’t know how to describe me. But if I’m going to take a shot at it, I’d say it’s me trying to tell you how I feel to music. I’m not trying to con you or make you into “me”, I’m just being myself and if you can find any relation to what I’m saying, then great.

What is the main inspiration behind your new single ‘Learn To Be’?
This one grew in a petrie dish of my own fear of being without the person that was totally wrong for me. The lying, manipulation, great sex, crying, dramatic life and death feelings of being totally without that nut job. So with this inspiration I talked myself through how it would be to talk, walk and be without this shining pile of rubble which was a relationship that should have never been, but taught me so much about who I was and what I didn’t want. 

Do you have any tour plans lined up?

Yes! I’m on tour right now supporting the legendary David Bromberg, who’s worked with everyone! Dylan, the Eagles, George Harrison, etc. This man has been around for a long time and still has the energy to give it his all for almost 3 hours and really connect with the audience. There’s so many people that love him and follow him around, I have [so] much respect for him. I’m also going to be touring with Ron Pope this Fall in Europe:

Sept 22 – Stroudsberg, PA | Sherman Theater
Sept 24 – Syracuse, NY | Westcott Theater
Oct 5 – Randolph, VT | Chandler Center for the Arts
Oct 7 – Fall River MA | Narrows Center for the Arts
Oct 28 – Sweden, Stockholm | Fryshuset (Klubben)
Oct 29 – Norway, Oslo | Parkteatret Parkteatret
Oct 30 – Denmark, Copenhagen | DR Koncerthuset
Oct 31 – Germany, Hamburg | Terrace Hill
Nov 1 – Netherlands, Amsterdam | Bitterzoet
Nov 2 – Germany, Köln | Artheater
Nov 3 – Germany, Munich | Ampere
Nov 4 – Belgium, Leuven | Het Depot
Nov 5 – United Kingdom, London | The Garage
Nov 6 – United Kingdom, Manchester | Academy 3

What do you hope to achieve over the next ten years?
In 10 years we could not even be a planet. But saying there is still a planet, I’m never a time-limit type planner. And I know this question is practical and gives people a sense of what’s inside your head, but I don’t ever think that far ahead. I think about what I’m doing today, and maybe what I’m doing tonight. But that will only come after my day is done. If I do have something planned long-term, its usually done by the management and they tell me what I should be doing, because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Quite frankly I’m a little bit crazy and all over the place. I’m sorry I didn’t answer this question right – I’m just being as honest as I can. Oh by the way I’m having a taco for breakfast, so if that gives you an answer into the inner workings of me, “Esta Bonita el Dia!” Thank you so much for the interview :)

Make sure you follow Brian Mackey on Twitter @brianmackeynyc to keep up to date with all his latest music and tour news.

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Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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