Mac Wetha is all about positive energy. Inside the multi-instrumentalist’s west London studio, sage sits on his desk, surrounded by mountains of production equipment. Wetha sparks a lighter and burns the herb, with the intention of cleansing the air in the room. For the 25-year-old, this is the environment he typically makes for himself whenever he’s making music. “When you’re in the zone and there’s an energy in the air and everyone’s excited about it, you should really hold on to that,” he tells NME.
Wetha – born Lloyd MacDonald – is DIY by nature. Over the past few years, his tracks have blended a spectrum of sounds, from raw, pop-punk-inspired melodies to soul, pop, R&B and custom 808s on tracks like ‘Wayside’ and ‘Ode To Mumma’, both taken from his 2019 project ‘Mac Wetha & Friends’. Its sequel, the forthcoming ‘Mac Wetha & Friends 2’ (due later this year) is equally vibrant, and sees Wetha stretching out his production skills to experiment with his vocal delivery.
Being a triple threat is nothing compared to Wetha’s decorated musical CV: he’s able to describe himself as a singer, lyricist, producer, engineer, instrumentalist and DJ all at once, leaving listeners with little room to wonder how he caught the attention of independent label Dirty Hit [The 1975, Beabadoobee]. For Wetha, getting signed in 2019 felt like a “childhood dream come true,” he says today. “It was beautiful to be recognised. I was very excited to have a label here express interest and sign me.”
Wetha began his career in the Nine8 Collective, a radical, London-based arts collective which labels itself a “collaboration platform” used to promote underground UK talent. Nine8 shines a light on independent creatives in the UK, and has offered artists like Biig Piig, Nayana IZ and Lava La Rue a stepping stone into the music industry.
Alongside Lava, Wetha is a founding member of Nine8; the pair worked on making beats together at college, despite not knowing anything about production at the time. “Nine8 has been one of the biggest things on this musical journey of mine,” he explains, adding that the collective was his inspiration behind ‘Mac Wetha & Friends 2’. “I owe [my career] all to everyone that I’ve met along the way,” Wetha continues. “I’ve learned from everyone on the job and from the beautiful things we all created together.”
Although music was the sole focus during the early days of Nine8, Wetha feels like the vision he and his fellow members shared has slowly blurred for newer artists – especially with the rise of social media and its impact on London’s music scene. While trying to move forward with the times and stay inspired, Wetha admits that he’s felt the pressure of keeping up with appearances firsthand. “When I first started making music, Instagram didn’t really matter at all,” he says. “It was such a beautiful time when I was working with Nine8 back in the day, it was all about making anything we wanted.”
He adds: “I definitely feel the pressure to conform to social media’s standards, but I just try to ignore it. I don’t make music to perform really well, but I still think about online success – it’s just another constraint.”
The idea of ‘blowing up’ is something Wetha feels is preventing new talent from reaching its potential. He’s keen to uplift other emerging artists from the capital, and counts himself “lucky” for getting the opportunity to work with indie-pop vocalist Rachel Chinouriri on their new single, ‘Fairytale’. On the track, the duo’s vocals float over a catchy guitar riff as they detail contrasting images of romantic fantasies and the disillusionment of unrequited love.
The collaboration between Wetha and Chinouriri was “fun and natural”, he says. “My work is about community, and bringing people together that you wouldn’t necessarily see on a song together. It’s about joining forces and creating a beautiful song regardless. The energy is very much harking back to the time of Nine8.”
Despite having already established himself as one of the London scene’s breakthrough acts, Wetha is still critical of his own music in the most “healthy” way possible, he says. “I’m excited to have a platform for my music, but at times it’s like I’m trying to cram all of my inspirations into a song,” he explains of his genre-blending approach to pop. “Don’t get me wrong, I love all the music I’ve made, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but I think it’s important to critique your own music.”
As he continues to forge his own path, Wetha stresses that he wants his work to be free from any genre labels or constraints – a mission statement that’s showcased across ‘Mac Wetha & Friends 2’, which also features a wealth of exciting, to-be-announced collaborations. “I want Mac Wetha to have the freedom to be able to do anything,” he concludes. “I’ve got a lot of aspirations – and I won’t be pigeonholed.”
Mac Wetha’s new project ‘Mac Wetha & Friends 2’ will be released later this year via Dirty Hit