INTERVIEW: Neil Macleod Releases EP 'To Unfold'

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Upon releasing his second EP ‘To Unfold’, we spoke with Neil Macleod about the various intricacies within the music scene of Wellington, buckling down on his musical evolution since his last release ‘Sonder’ and delving into a more personal side of Neil as a working artist in the capital.

Lili: Pretty standard, but what have you been up to recently? (Music wise, or in your life if there’s anything interesting)

Neil: I’ve been doing lots of things! It’s been a pretty busy year so far. At the moment I’m focusing on getting these new songs ready for a tour in late June, as well as finishing a follow up project for 2019.

Lili: In an interview with Wellington Music you spoke on the process of producing your last solo release ‘Sonder’, having recorded, produced and engineered the EP by yourself. How has the production of your EP ‘To Unfold’ evolved (if it has in anyway) since that release in 2017 to now?

Neil: Well, when I made ‘Sonder’ there was a real desire to show people what I could achieve all on my own. I recorded it, mixed it, did all my own press. That process taught me so much, and showed me my weaknesses and strengths.

I’ve moved away from that approach now. The process is now much more collaborative, and far more rewarding. I have one main musical collaborator, Devin Abrams. Working with Devin has changed the way I think about making music and he has opened my mind in ways I couldn’t have predicted. Outside of the studio, there’s plenty of support too, I have a really great team, and everyone involved has been instrumental for getting this new EP off the ground.

I don’t like isolation anymore, the value in human interaction is clear, and despite all I learnt during the times of creating ‘Sonder’ by myself, I’m certainly happy to say goodbye to that lonely pursuit.

Lili: Is there anything personal that you want people to take away from your upcoming EP ‘ To Unfold’? Or is it more up to the listeners interpretation?

Neil: My hope is that people will find their own meaning. I feel that directing my audience towards a specific understanding of the music will work against what I’m trying to achieve.

It’s beautiful when an audience finds their own meaning in art. Music serves a purpose for me when I make it, but it seems insincere to present the songs in a way where I’ve already decided how to listen to them… that seems limiting to me. I prefer to discuss my music in a generalised way, without fixating too much on specifics. Ultimately all I really want is to make people feel something.  

The music has a story, and it has a concept, but I’d rather see if it speaks for itself. At least for now.

Lili: On Instagram you mentioned that the campaign for your EP release will be accompanied with visuals which intertwine clothing. Is there any brands at the moment that you feel represent yourself in any way?

Neil: I’m not sure that there are any. There’s a lot of brands that I love and would like to be able to afford, but that’s not happening anytime soon. I prefer to make these things from scratch to be honest, which is why I had garments made specially for this EP, (for the photoshoot & performances). I worked with an amazing lady called Charlie Walkley for this, she took the concepts I presented to her, and put her own spin on it. That’s the beauty of collaborating, and not depending on pre existing brands.

Lili: After doing various shows around Wellington what’s one thing you have personally found prominent about the live aspect of music culture in Welly? Good or bad.. (could be from the perspective of performing, or from attending gigs)

Neil: One thing I’ve definitely noticed is that Wellington crowds are very accepting, and open to vulnerability. It’s hard for me to get on a stage, but in this city, I feel assured that the audience wants nothing but my full self, emotions and all… people appreciate those things here, which helps artists like me, a lot.

Lili: Snowballing off of that, do you feel the gigging scene in Wellington stacks up to that reputation, in comparison to places you have travelled to in the past?

Neil: Well, having spent time in London, I can say for sure that there’s more going on over there… but I’m hesitant to draw too much of a comparison. London is bigger than our country in terms of population, seems a bit unfair, haha.

Something light-hearted

Do you have any favourite songs to play live atm?

Neil: The new ones. It feels amazing to stop thinking of them as recorded works and to unpack them as live performances. Reuben and Hakopa, (who make up my band) are bringing such fresh new energy to the tracks, and it’s a real joy to watch and be a part of.

One crazy story from one of your live shows?

Neil: Honestly, the craziest thing is when you get a crowd that sings along to your song, or comes up and talks to you after the show. Nothing can top those kinds of interactions.

One human invention you hate, and one you love?

Neil: I really hate those recyclable cups that can’t actually be recycled… My partner’s sisters were explaining this to me, and it pissed me off… On a brighter note, I’m really happy someone invented paint. I’d hate to imagine what life would be like without any paint.

And to finish, any random broad/maybe more specific goals for the future of your career/music?

Neil: I just want to keep making better music, and allow myself the time to make good career decisions. I have some specific goals, but I like to keep them pretty close to the chest…

Thanks to Neil to taking the time to speak to us for our Something Something artist feature this easter break. Be sure to check out Neil’s EP ‘To Unfold’ released today on Spotify.

Lili BushComment