Exclusive Interview: Mac Hunt

 “If we all love, the world will be a better place.

Mac Hunt can do it all. A singer, songwriter, producer, and former D1 basketball player at Vanderbilt describes his sound as “unpredictable, wavey, and intricate but simple”. His music resembles the indie DIY approach of Jeremy Zucker and Christian French, with powerful pop vocals similar to Nick Jonas. Not only is his voice irresistibly smooth but his music is as genuine and real as he is. 

Hunt discusses his early experiences with music, how he balanced a D1 Athletic career at Vanderbilt while pursuing his music, what artists he is into at the moment, and how he wants his music to be perceived by those who listen. 

His newest single, “My Fault” is out and available to stream now.

Can you give me some background about yourself?

Mac Hunt: I was born in Houston, Texas, but was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My parents are both doctors (my dad is a surgeon and my mom is a pediatrician) and work in Chattanooga currently. I have two younger brothers, Will and Jack. Will is 18 and Jack is 14. 

I first got into music before I can remember. My dad plays guitar and played in a band from high school through medical school. He has a collection of guitars in our basement where we have a small studio. My family is very musical. All three of us (brothers) sing and love music. But, my brother Will and I have been singing together since we were little. Will is the main reason I got into music. When we were really little, he would always be singing around the house. I thought it was really cool, and he challenged me to try singing in front of him. I remember I sang the song “When You Look Me in the Eyes” by The Jonas Brothers and it gave me a feeling I had never felt before. 

What was it like balancing your athletic career at Vanderbilt and your music career last year?

Hunt: Though music was my first love, I was always afraid to show my musical side when I was younger. Both my parents played collegiate athletics (my dad played football and ran track at Princeton, and my mom played soccer and rowed crew at Harvard), so I have been around sports since I was little. I am 6 feet 6 inches tall right now, and was always tall as a kid, so I tried basketball in 2nd grade and really enjoyed it. From then on I practiced for hours everyday, played AAU basketball traveling the country, and wanted to pursue basketball at the highest level possible. However, when my brother Will had a heart transplant at 16 years old, my outlook on life completely changed. I wanted to get the most out of everyday possible. That’s when I knew I had to start pursuing music. 

I don’t think I ever planned to play college basketball and pursue a career in music at the same time, but it’s what I love to do. Sure, it can get really busy, but that’s what life is all about, making the most out of every single day and every opportunity. Life is also about being your true and genuine self, and I am not myself without basketball and music. My brother Will is the most genuine, selfless, and caring person I’ve ever known. I want to do what he does everyday…spread love and happiness to others while being himself regardless of what others think. I feel like the best way to do that is to do it through music that can relate to everyone. Shoutout to my brother Will for being my true role model and for challenging me to chase my dreams.

What’s your oldest memory related to music?

Hunt: My brother Will asking me to try singing when I was 6/7 years old.

Who did you listen to growing up? Who do you listen to now?

Hunt: I listened to a lot of The Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake growing up. I listened to Kendrick and Drake around basketball stuff, and Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers at home. I listen to a wide variety of artists now…including a lot of female artists. I feel that women are ahead of the game in so many areas of music that it’s essential for me to study and listen to them. For example, Lorde, Julia Michaels, Charli XCX, Bulow, Terror Jr, Miley Cyris, LoLo Zouai, and Lennon Stella are artists I listen to a lot. On the male side I listen to Khalid, Bazzi, Justin Bieber, Lauv, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, and Quinn XCII.

What’s your experience being an independent artist?

Hunt: It’s busy because you’re doing a lot by yourself. I write, produce and sing but that’s what makes it fun for me. I love the creative process of music. It’s probably my favorite part.

Do you work with anyone else?

Hunt: In an attempt to put out the best music possible while I was playing Division 1 basketball at Vanderbilt, I reached out to a bunch of different producers in Nashville to help bring my songs to life more quickly than what I was able to do when balancing school and basketball. While I only had one song out (my first song “Doubts” that I wrote, sang, and produced myself), I reached out to Jon Santana through Instagram. He responded and immediately took a chance on me after hearing some demos that I sent over to him. From there, he helped co-produce my song “Wait” and produced my most recent song “My Fault.” We have become like brothers and he is my right-hand man for almost anything music related. Often times I would go to his house after basketball practice ended at 7pm and would record until midnight. Multiple times a week, on weeknights.

Walk me through your creative process.

Hunt: I write, listen, and produce music everyday (most of the time spend 4-7 hours on music a day). When creating a song, the process varies for me. Sometimes I start on guitar or piano, or sometimes start in Logic Pro X by putting some sounds down. However, sometimes I do the exact opposite and start with lyrics and then put them to music. For me, I like the song creation process to be very natural and unforced. If I don’t have an immediate idea for a song, I will most likely focus on something else music related and let it come naturally. I love just listening to sounds and coming up with melodies. I record hundreds of voice memos on my iPhone throughout the day, anywhere I am, if an idea/sound/melody pops into my head. My best music comes from feelings I have and from things I notice around me. I draw inspiration from everything. I love to observe my life and other’s lives in order to write meaningful lyrics that can relate to everyone. I love writing in parallels and double entendres. Ed Sheeran is a big influence of mine on the writing side and just as a role model.

Specifically, my first single, “Doubts,” is written about my brother, Will, but is written in the form of a love relationship. That relationship has to do with my brother and I, for the most part, but can be perceived by others as whatever they want to make it. Also, being vulnerable is key for me with writing lyrics. Everyone has their own stories and ups and downs, so if I am vulnerable about my personal life and my experiences, I’m sure others will be able to relate.

What inspires you?

Hunt: My brother Will and my Dad inspire me the most. They both represent what truly matters in this world: love, inclusion, and consistent positivity. This is the message I hope to spread through my music.

Which of your songs has brought you the most joy in creating?

Hunt: So far, “My Fault” has brought me the most joy in creating as it was created in under an hour. Jon Santana (my producer) converted a guitar melody I was writing to into synth chords and the song was done. I had every single lyric pre-written and it just fit into the pulsing chords Jon laid down perfectly. It was so spontaneous and fun and something I just can’t explain. The song happened so naturally and was done before I could realize it.

Favorite song at the moment?

Hunt: Favorite song at the moment would be “How Do You Sleep?” by Sam Smith.

Who would be your dream collab? Why?

Hunt: Justin Bieber. He is one of the most talented artists of my generation and has been my musical inspiration since I was little.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

Hunt: Honestly not sure. I’m just proud to finally be content with singing/being an artist and putting out music that’s my own.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Hunt: Definitely my brother’s heart transplant when he was 16. I had to step up and change in ways that I thought would happen years down the road. I feel like I’m 20 going on 30.

What’s your ultimate goal in making and releasing your own music?

Hunt: My ultimate goal is to touch and influence as many people as I can by sharing my story/my brother’s story and spreading love and inclusion to as many people as possible. I want to help people through my music. Not just in the USA, but around the entire world. If we all love, the world will be a better place. I also want to be able to give back to the inner-city in my hometown Chattanooga as the people/coaches there have made me what I am today.

What do you want fans to remember you by?

Hunt: I want fans to remember me as someone who stands for everyone and loves everyone.

What’s next for you?

Hunt: Continuing to make music everyday and releasing songs consistently.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Hunt: I see myself touring North America within the next five years on my own tour and hopefully a global tour one day.

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