Interview Music News

Æ MAK – “The love sick writer in me is beating the hard-ass performer in me”

Dundalk singer Aoife McCann, better known to us as Æ MAK, brings her eclectic pop to Berlin's intimate Auster club this coming Friday, February 28th alongside Freddie Long and FÆM for Småll Session's latest showcase. Aoife opened up to us about her debut album, her stage name and her dancing influences before the gig.

Æ MAK, thank you for taking the time out. There are a lot of people very excited about your upcoming Småll Session’s show here in Berlin, not least us! Is this your Berlin debut? And what kind of set can fans expect?

Hello! Thank you for having me. That’s very cool, I’m excited too. It will be my first show in Berlin, yes. They can expect something unusual, the usual.

Many legendary outlets, such as NPR and KEXP, have marked you as one to watch for 2020 – what are your plans to seize this momentum?

I’ve never been great at seizing outside momentum. I hope to continue doing what I’m doing and keep building my own momentum and not rush anything for the wrong reasons.

You’ve mentioned an album before – how is this developing?

Yeah, the album is growing into something I love a lot, which madly enough – I’ve only learned recently – is the most important thing. I originally wanted my debut album to reflect the world of the Æ MAK on-stage character but the love sick writer in me is beating the hard-ass performer in me. I’m working closely with my producer and collaborator Daniel McIntyre (lullahush) in the studio at the moment. We’re excited.

“I think most folk think it’s just a pretentious hipster band name.”

I’m intrigued by your stage and artist name. How long does it take folk to realise it’s a play on your own name, Aoife McCann? (Or am I myself completely off the mark?)

No, you’re bang on the money. I think most folk think it’s just a pretentious hipster band name. Which is absolutely grand ’cause it kind of is. For me it’s my stage name, the version of myself that I can express and feel through on this level I can’t quite crack in real life – but performing gets me there.

A certain cheekiness and playfulness underlies a lot of your music thus far. How important is it for you that your music is fun, and an enjoyable experience?

I don’t really set out to make music that’s fun and enjoyable to listen to. Have always made music off sparked energy in the moment. Contrary to my on-stage performances I’m a really happy, light-hearted messer in real life and create melody mainly when I’m that. So it is a really good feeling thinking people enjoy it and have fun listening to it because that’s how it was created.

© @ktballox

Tying into this, you’ve previously stated your admiration for the masters of performance on stage – Aldous Harding and David Byrne. And you yourself embody the aforementioned playfulness, energy and passion we know from your music on stage. Why do you think more musicians don’t embrace the theatrical or dance aspect of the stage they inhabit?

Yes, currently obsessed with Aldous’ recent KEXP performance. That woman has been sent from above to show us all how to be authentic. Everyone’s artistic practice is unique to them, it’s specific to how and why they create so I think musicians embrace what’s true to them. I just happen to do what I do. I’m inspired by energy and the intent behind it. I like mystique and the bizarre. It excites me. I want to excite people.

“It feels like the Æ MAK project has a taste of marmite from the outside looking in.”

This all leads to a refreshing and exciting experience, and above all in Ireland and Dublin where there is such a richness in the output of quality music and art but yet, no one quite embodying their art like you do. Has that been challenging for you or indeed, rather freeing?

Whoa that’s some statement. Thank you. I can’t compare myself in that light. All I know is that yes, I create because it’s freeing and it let me be who I am and what I want to be. I wouldn’t say it’s been challenging. Career and success wise it’s been a slow climb. It depends what you value in life I guess. It feels like the Æ MAK project has a taste of marmite from the outside looking in. The Irish fans and the industry here have always been supportive and loving towards it which we all are with each other but it will never enter the mainstream here, it doesn’t fit and I’m fine with that. Rather freeing.

Well we may not agree there, think that your music has a very wide appeal and across many genres. In any case we are very much looking forward to seeing you live this Friday, thank you.

Thank you!

Tickets for Æ MAK at Småll Sessions in Auster Club are available here and cost 15,65€.

Auster Club
Pücklerstraße 34
10997 Berlin, Germany

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