Recently, the musical talents of Mary Mac have been quite the buzz amongst Polynesians in the NorCal community so The WhatItDo took some time to get the 411 on this up-and-coming Urban Island singer. During this interview, we really got to know who Mary Mac is, how she got into music, and her journey back to her native Tonga that left her feeling inspired and even more assured in a career as a music artist.
TWID: Thanks Mary Mac for taking some time out of your schedule for this interview. Tell us about yourself and where you’re from.
MM: My real name is Mele Teu. I grew up in the Bay Area and lived in East Palo Alto almost all of my life. I was always singing from when I was a little girl. My dad and his siblings were in the music group for the church my grandfather started. Naturally, my siblings and I followed in their footsteps; we sang at church and joined the choir.
TWID: Was the musical influence just from your father’s side or from both mother and father?
MM: Mostly my dad, his siblings and his parents. We had a family band and would sing all the time together, so music came naturally to me. I grew up being really comfortable around singing in front of people because we were already used to doing it weekly for church, family meetings, whenever and wherever they wanted us to sing. It became something that I loved and grew passionate about. Then my family and I moved back to Tonga.
TWID: Whoa, wait a minute. Y’all moved to Tonga? Elaborate, please.
MM: Yeah. We lived there specifically from 2001 to 2005. My parents always told me to “remember your roots.” It wasn’t until they moved us back to Tonga that I really dug deep into those roots [laughs]. I went to school there and adapted to life on an island. [Living in Tonga] took my perspective on music even further down my [geneaological] line, beyond my grandparents. In Tonga, we were singing everywhere – at school, church, parties, everywhere. The whole school would come together every Friday morning. It was crazy to me how we had a whole class on singing and doing lakalaka’s and ma’ulu’ulu’s [Tongan cultural dances]. I gained a deeper level of respect of my culture and the role music played in it.
TWID: Did your parents always plan for you and your siblings to move and live in Tonga for a few years?
MM: No, not at all. One day, my parents realized, “Hey, our kids are getting older. They need to know how life is back where we came from.” They wanted to instill the values that they came to America with. So it wasn’t planned at all; my parents had an impression to move and they acted upon it.
TWID: How did the few years in Tonga affect you as a person and as a music artist?
MM: How I was brought up, along with that time in Tonga, influences my music and what I write and sing about because those times shaped me into who I am today.
Mary Mac recently released her single, “Yo Loss” on YouTube which showcases her versatility as a writer and singer. The presence of the strings in the opening of the song is then met up with a Hip-Hop beat at the chorus that you just can’t help but bump your head to. She is currently working on finishing her debut album by the end of this year. She has already penned seven songs that will be on the album, the topics of which range from being independent to voicing your opinions and expressing how you really feel. She acknowledges that most of her music is aimed towards her peers, especially young women. In helping her get this far, Mary Mac also wanted to acknowledge Poundgame Productions, Vintage Music Collective, her family, friends, and fans.
Article Written By: Pesi Kava
*article photo courtesy of Mary Mac
*YouTube video courtesy of PoundGameEnt100