Meet Mac Wetha, a quickly rising producer, DJ, instrumentalist, and vocalist from London, UK. Releasing his debut album Mac Wetha & Friends in 2019, his initial success was largely restrained to the underground. Listeners praised his laid-back, meticulously crafted lo-fi takes that took on elements of grime, bedroom pop, and contemporary British R&B, all laid out against jazzy drums, interesting guitar riffs courtesy of Wetha himself, and the distinctly fuzzy overtones shrouding the project as a whole. In 2023 though, the artist has completely transcended this initial offering—and proven he’s ready for the big time—with a direct sequel: Mac Wetha & Friends 2.
Throughout its 20-odd minutes, Mac Wetha & Friends 2 completely delivers on its title’s promise—friends getting together and simply having fun making music. Each track is imbued with youthful joy and energy that could never be replicated artificially, and a streak of camaraderie and passion runs through the entire album.
We spoke with Mac Wetha to discuss reflections on the new album, aspirations for the future, and his fun, collaborative approach to creating music with his friends.
PAN M 360: I expected you to be chilling now that the album is out, but I heard you were already back into sessions this week. Did you take much of a break?
MAC WETHA: Yeah, I haven’t really stopped the whole time. I’ve kind of just kept running. The way the Mac Wetha & Friends stuff came about, the first one was very much just working with people and then the song just appeared—stuff the artist wouldn’t put out because it’s too left or not the kind of thing they want to put out under their name just yet. Or maybe I pushed the idea for the beat and they were going along with my thing, as opposed to me producing what they were seeing.
It’s kind of similar with Mac Wetha & Friends 2, where it kind of just happened as I went. It didn’t feel like I was locked away like, mad, fucking pulling my hair out. It was a lot of fun to make, which I think is ideally how music should be made. The whole time, I’ve also been in the space on my own and writing for the next thing.
PAN M 360: How does it feel to have this project out in the world? How’s the reception been from people in your life?
MW: It’s been really good. I think it’s my best work to date and I love all the songs. My family loves it, my friends love it, I know the features love it. And we did a really good release show and it was just a great night. I guess, most importantly, I’m very, very critical of the stuff that I make, and I listen to it so much that I lose perspective. But I always think when I truly put it out there, and let it run for a couple of days, and then listen to it on Spotify or whatever, that’s the true reflection. Because now it’s sitting out there and now it’s done. That’s when I’m always the most nervous to listen to it. That’s the scary thing, but I do like the album. I love it. When I had that listen, I was having a really bad day actually, and I was listening to it walking around the city and I was like ‘Well, at least I made a good project.’
PAN M 360: Has anything surprised you about this album since its release?
MW: There’s always been a running joke between my dad and me—we used to live in Spain when I was a kid. We used to joke about how you’d hear Pitbull on the radio, or you know that U2 song where they’re like “Uno, dos, tres, catorze,” and then the rest of the song is in English? Our joke was that if you put in even any bit of Spanish, Spanish people will be like ‘Oh fuck yeah.’ And I did a bit of Spanish on the start of the song with Feux (“Fall Again”) and I looked at the playlist it was in and immediately, it was ‘Musica por trabajar concentrado.’ I was just writing this new stuff and I was like, let’s do some more Spanish. Trying to keep it up.
PAN M 360: What would you say are the biggest lessons learned between making Friends 1 and Friends 2?
MW: Couple of things—first of all, with the collaboration side of it, now that I’m singing more, I’m really glad that I brought in my friends to help with production and engineering and stuff. In the first one, my mind wasn’t on melodies or lyrics, or what I’m trying to say, it was more like trying to make the coolest sound and get the textures right, therefore leaving all the other stuff to the artist. But since I was singing on it this time, it felt right to include my friend Kurisu, Chris, who’s a good friend of mine who did a bunch of co-prod. As well as Dan Holloway, Max Wolfgang, and other guys I worked with.
I’m really glad I did that because there was a second where I was like “Nah, I should produce all of it.” And then I was like, “Literally, why?” That goes against the whole point of Mac Wetha & Friends: trying not to be too fucking egocentric about it. And then also, there’s this thing I’ve been thinking about lately: how when you first start making music there’s a certain naivety that gives way to this pure, inspired thing. You don’t overthink stuff and whatever sounds good, you do. And the more you do music, and maybe even the more success you have in whatever way you define that, the more you’re like, ‘Oh, people like this. I need to be doing this, or that guy’s doing that. So no one else is gonna find this cool.’ There’s that mindset.
So in the journey from Friends 1 and 2, I’ve been kind of unlearning stuff that I’ve learned along the way to almost get back to the same spot I was at in Friends 1. It was very rough around the edges. I mixed it, so the mixing isn’t amazing. There are a lot of things I would change about it now, but I didn’t make it now, I made it then. So I’m very happy with how it was, but there’s something about the way I made it. The lack of overthinking stuff, or even thinking about stuff at all—just purely making it. It’s a mixture of that mindset and the stuff you learn along the way.
PAN M 360: Your more recent work has a bit of both Mac stuff and Mac Wetha & Friends stuff. Do you feel like you’re totally switching modes when you work with other artists versus working solo?
MW: Yeah, I think there is a switch. When I’m working with other people I’m a lot more confident with writing, because I think there’s pressure taken off. I put a lot of pressure on myself when I’m making solo stuff. And I think a lot of that is bad news, and that’s stuff I’m trying to get better with.
Just signing with Dirty Hit was like a childhood dream. And then you’re like, “Fuck, I’m signed to a label, I got to make something good.” Whereas before, I could make whatever the fuck I wanted. It took me a while to realize, that they signed me because they want me to make whatever I want. Dirty Hit isn’t the kind of label that’s gonna be like, now that you’re signed you’ve got to make this shit. It needs to be between these BPMs. Shave your head.
That pressure doesn’t come across so much when it’s collaborative, purely because you’re bouncing off of someone. Through doing Friends 2 and how fun it was, and how much better I was writing and performing with my pals, it reminded me that this is literally what I’ve been doing for my whole musical life. And yet for some reason, when I signed to Dirty Hit I was like ‘Alright, it’s just me now. I’m signed, I need to make this. I need to do that.’ But no, that’s not how it works fucking at all!
There is a kind of switching of modes that I want to change and just make it all one mode. It’s probably something to do with the fact that when I’m doing it myself I feel like I have to be producing and on the laptop, whereas in some of these Mac Wetha & Friends sessions, for example, my boy Chris was engineering, and making things sound good, and he just knows how I want stuff to sound. That part had just gone out of my mind, and now it’s just me and whoever I’m working with, and we’re just doing it.
PAN M 360: Did you find that doing a bit of everything on this album helped the producer and artist brains work in harmony a bit better?
MW: Yeah, I reckon so. Every work that I do and put out brings me closer and closer to what I’m really, really trying to do, as a solo artist even. The Mac Wetha & Friends stuff sits in this fun world where anything goes and everything’s fun. And that’s kind of what I want my solo stuff to be. But like I said, I dropped the first solo thing in 2020, “Culver,” I was so new to it then. I still feel like I’m just figuring it out with every project I do and getting a little bit closer. And the Mac Wetha & Friends stuff speeds that up a lot.
PAN M 360: What are some of the similarities and differences between being a frontman for a band like Scoundrel or Death Pigs versus being the end-to-end producer of your whole vision?
MW: I guess you just doubt yourself a lot more doing it on your own. Just bouncing ideas off people is really beneficial. Hence why I’m trying to work with more friends lately. Being a frontman in a band where you’re screaming, shouting, belting stuff, going a bit nuts—once you do it loads it becomes really easy and you don’t feel scared of an audience, because you’re just doing this crazy shit. And if someone doesn’t like it, you kind of stop caring, I guess.
But when it’s more introspective and you’ve written it on your own, you’re way more vulnerable. Some of the relationships I have with friends who I make music with are so close because I’ve seen them be very vulnerable. We’ve talked and tried to get all that out into the music. But I’d never been in that chair really, or if I had, it was with the band and I was just screaming. It’s just more vulnerable this way when you’re singing.
Criticism of my new work and bad reviews have hit me so much harder than I thought they would, and that’s probably why. Because it’s the first time I’ve really truly been vulnerable like that and this stuff is representing me. Mac Wetha is me. The band is four of us, but this is just me. So if someone hates Wetha music (which they’re more than welcome to do) that, at first, was like ‘Oh, well they fucking hate me as well.’ But obviously, it’s not personal.
PAN M 360: Do you think it also has something to do with the vibe and the subject matter? With the band it’s heavy and emotional, you’ve got your guard up. But with your new stuff, a lot of it is super optimistic and happy. Do you think that also adds vulnerability?
MW: Yeah, I think so. I think it’s quite easy to write sad shit. I’m definitely trying to step out of that a little bit, even though there are definitely some emo sad vibes on this project. I’ve been trying for a long time to write happier stuff and make it not cringy or not insincere. It’s so much harder. I think people can relate so much easier to sad stuff and it kind of just pours out of you. But writing a track that’s happy and uplifting, for me anyway, that’s harder. “Don’t You Go Falling in Love” and “Fairytale” sound quite happy but they’re quite bittersweet or melancholic still. It’s like a reflective kind of sadness, less immediate.
I think since making Mac Wetha and Friends is fun and you’re fucking around and having a great time with your pals, that probably comes across a bit more. Not that I’m not having fun when I’m making music on my own, it’s just that when you’re on your own or with just a couple of guys it’s just a bit different, a different energy. But I was travelling when I made some of the songs on Mac Wetha & Friends 2. In LA, it was like, fucking 40 degrees. I fucking love LA, and I’m excited to be there, so I’m not gonna suddenly sit down and be like “[singing] My girlfriend left meeee/I feel so bad/I hate myseeeeelf.”
PAN M 360: Your EPs and now this album have all felt super edited and refined in terms of length, but they’re always a bit of a tease since they’re done so quickly. Why do you think you’re drawn to briefer statements?
MW: In the band, I used to be able to make these fucking seven-minute-long math rock songs. And I have no problem with that, but like you say, I make a song over four minutes I’m like “Oooh, I don’t know about that.” I think it’s maybe coming from the band background and now working on a computer and being able to speed stuff up, slow stuff down, chop stuff, sample stuff, and manipulate samples, it’s probably a mixture of all that. And also I think simplicity, especially in Mac Wetha & Friends, is very important. I come from a background of making beats and sampling.
In fact, the whole idea of sampling is what made me want to make music on the computer in the first place. Hearing SpaceGhostPurrp and the way he used samples is what got me into it. I think the reason I love sampling is you listen to a beautiful piece of music that’s already got this spirit, and then one bit hits you in particular and you just loop the shit out of that so people can hear that, keep experiencing that.
PAN M 360: Do you remember the first sample you ever flipped?
MW: I don’t think I can remember the first, but the earliest I can remember is maybe a Barney Kessel sample, the jazz guitarist. But the first beat I made which someone used (which was Bone Slim who’s in the nine8collective with me) was a piano and drums, and then at the end, I did a whole minute-and-a-half long sample of a conversation, a la MF DOOM. It was so meticulous. I spent weeks on it, all these mad conversations. I was really on it, fucking all about sampling at this point. I remember sampling the original Planet of the Apes soundtrack as well, that was pretty cool.
PAN M 360: Any plans for touring outside of the UK in the future?
MW: To be honest, it’s kind of confusing what I’m gonna even do live at this point. Because Mac Wetha & Friends 2 is what’s just come out, and I suppose is what people are listening to the most, and I can’t really play that live. I’ve got quite a lot of stuff planned in the UK this year, and if the solo stuff goes well after this, which hopefully it will, I’ll hopefully be in the States and in Canada. I’d fucking love to, it’s like my dream to do that.
Actually, with my band Scoundrel, we played a gig in Quebec City because we won a battle of the bands. No one knew us, I met the mayor of Quebec City, and shit, it was crazy. It was weird. We were there for three nights, it felt like a weird fever dream. All of the Quebec City guys were like, “Man, fuck Montreal.”
PAN M 360: Besides incense, is there anything you need to have nearby to do your best work in the studio?
MW: I’ve got sage burning right now. I also always have a couple of these bad boys. Books. I’ve got the Rick Rubin book. I know, I know. What I’m also really into is having a paper around and doing the crossword, and then writing lyrics on the paper. Because there are just so many words, and I love busy-looking stuff. So if I’d take the train to the studio, I’d always pick up a paper and try to do the crossword on the way. Then I’d get there I’d just put this next to me and any of the ideas I have, I’d just jot down in here. And there’s something about all the manic words fucking everywhere that’s quite inspiring lyrically. But other than that, nothing really.
PAN M 360: Has much changed in terms of your process or workflow since signing with Dirty Hit? Or is it just an opportunity to keep on keeping on?
MW: The negative side of it, which was a small, self-inflicted side was the pressure of being on a label. It could’ve been anyone and the pressure would have gotten to me because it was the first time my music and my thing have been recognized in that way. And for it to be me as a solo artist which was very new to me at the time was quite a lot of pressure that I put on myself. That was the bad change which I think I’ve worked on and gotten better with now. And the good change is being able to live off of making music, I’ve never really been financially stable in my life before signing to Dirty Hit, or if I have, I’ve been working a lot.
I’ve got to the point now where I’ve gotten over the confusion and I just feel very blessed to be able to do it. I do a lot of exercise and stuff that keeps me active, so I’m not always just sitting there and losing my fucking mind. Also, supporting Beabadoobee on their tour. I met them in the studio and we became mates, and then we supported them on tour, which was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was insane. In a roundabout way, that was because of Dirty Hit. A lot of things have changed for the better after signing.
PAN M 360: You’ve got a knack for bringing in an artist and letting the collaboration flow both ways, making something really cool that neither of you could come up with on your own. With that in mind, which two or three artists would you call up for your dream collab?
MW: I’d love to make a song with SpaceGhostPurrp. I know, controversial opinion, he’s got a lot of controversial opinions himself. But I would just love to be a fly on the wall or make something with him and understand, and see how his mind works. Because I think he just makes such insane stuff. And then TisaKorean, he’s so sick. So fun. I’d love to just make a beat for Tisa and work with him and do something fun with him, and Spaceghostpurp I’d just like to see how he works. In terms of making a song together and coming out with a product like something on Mac Wetha and Friends or something, maybe Yung Lean. Corbin, maybe. Let’s do both.
PAN M 360: Have you found it tough to be such a genre-rejecter in this brand-focused landscape of music?
MW: I don’t struggle with it, but I do think sometimes about how I’m perceived and stuff. But at the end of the day, I’m just making whatever comes to me and feels right, and trying not to think too much further than that. I think with Cloud Paint, as much as I love the project, I was very much like, ‘Alright, let’s do this kind of more rocky shit now.’ I think I was just putting myself in a box a bit too much. I think it can be beneficial to give yourself limitations so you have a set of rules you can bend and play with, but you’ve still got this focus. But I think I’ve come to realize that what’s best for me right now is just to come to the studio and make whatever I want, and then have loads of songs and see which ones feel right to put out. Hopefully, there’s something that unites all the sounds and comes through it and keeps it all in the same universe.
All the artists I have the most love for, and respect for, musicians that I idolize—specifically people like Lava La Rue, Biig Piig, tendai, Dora Jar, and Bone Slim—I see them not give a single fuck about whatever’s going on, and just make whatever they want. And they have inspirations obviously, and things they draw from, but that’s kind of far removed from the trend of the day on TikTok or whatever. That’s the stuff that lasts the longest, even if it doesn’t blow up in a day and make enough money to buy a fucking house. That would be sick, but also, the point of making music isn’t making money; it’s making sick music.