Words By Miki Hellerbach
The Producer’s Voice is a new series for GUAP where we highlight the stories of instrumental crafters. We hope to bring their stories to the forefront instead of kept behind the artist they are producing for.
Mac Wetha brings all of his diverse childhood musical loves into his production style and it has served him well.
While producer Mac Wetha and his family are from London he spent much of his upbringing in Southern Spain in Andalucia. That is where he developed his initial interest in music. When his Dad would drive him to school in a turquoise Land Rover he would rotate 6 different CDs including ones from Embrace, Kanye West, and Damian Marley. Indie rock, hip-hop, and reggae grabbed his ears from the jump and stayed with him all the way to now. From listening to these CDs, Mac realized that he definitely wanted people to pay attention to him like he was paying attention to these musicians’ sounds. But that didn’t necessarily have to be through music.
The thing that flipped the switch in Mac’s mind that he actually wanted to make music was when he got Guitar Hero. Virtually playing the guitar and singing along was all he needed to implore him to learn to do the real thing. To be fair, his mom was also in a band at the time so that also had some influence. Around this same time, Mac discovered Youtube and saw videos like System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” which let him know he was intrigued by stuff that initially felt a bit weird but you couldn’t help but be drawn back to.
Mac started playing in bands by playing in a rock club at age 13 and also sang for others while they played. This transitioned to learning to use Ableton from friends and Youtube tutorials and then producing hip-hop beats by sampling MF Doom and Spaceghostpurp. He continued to do both simultaneously through to the end of college.
While still in school, Mac was lucky enough to meet Lava La Rue and Biig Piig who asked him to be a part of the collective they were forming – Nine8. Upon the release of “Lil Bic Lighter” on Soundcloud, which Mac produced, the crew saw that this was something that could work. They’ve been moving and shaking ever since with Mac also beginning to get placements with incredible artists outside of his immediate and trusted circle in recent years.
I asked Mac Wetha to give the backstory of three of his top instrumentals. Take a read.
“Burden” by Aminé
“What’s funny is that the beat is so simple. I just love Darondo so much and when I heard that song I knew I had to sample it. I think there’s a Westside Gunn song with that same “Thank You God” sample but I hadn’t heard it at the time. But yeah I also was just making the beat cuz I was bored. I purposefully wanted to use quite subtle drums and give that part of the Darondo song the spotlight. I also sampled this language off wiki tongues. I can’t remember what it’s called but it doesn’t have many words, just sounds. Then I did some pitching stuff and specific chopping.
The story of how it got into Aminé’s hands is interesting. I was going to LA cuz a friend of mine was playing at Camp Flog Gnaw, Tyler The Creator’s festival, and he got me on the list. I was planning sessions with friends of friends but mostly going out for the festival to have fun. But then Aminé shared my project on his Instagram story and I don’t even know how he found it. Then my manager talked to his people and next thing I know I was doing a session with Pasqué who produces for Aminé. We got along really well and [he] asked if I wanted to come to the studio with Aminé the next day.
I was really nervous but as soon as I met Aminé he was such a nice guy and we had so much fun fucking around in the studio. I was just showing him beats and I played that, and straight away [he] asked what it was. I sent it to the engineer and he knew straight away it was one he’d been searching for for a while. It felt like Aminé had so much to say in that song that the beat didn’t need to be complex. It just needed to be a sick sounding canvas for him to rap on.”
“Lie To Me” by Biig Piig feat. Mac Wetha
“I really like that beat. It was this downtune guitar sound, an acoustic that wasn’t recorded perfectly. I love that stuff and I’ve been messing around with that a lot recently. I came up with that guitar riff pretty quickly and it was quite simple. Jess just had her head down and started writing, when she catches the flame like that she’s insane. She has such an ear for melody. That descending noise, that rim, and that percussion was quite an essential part.
I’d had that sample for a while and it felt really nice. I wanted to go for a really dry sound hence the acoustic not having much reverb. Then all of the drum hits are real punchy and scratchy with a close up in your ear feel. Simplicity was key. Everything in there is there for its purpose. I really liked layering a guitar with another guitar on the chorus through the iZotope vinyl plug-in.”
“Spit In Ur Face B” by Mac Wetha feat. Louis Culture & Lava La Rue
“My favourite. I remember so clearly making that in this studio space in Camberwell in South East London. I was trying to make something like Bubba Sparxxx “Ugly” or even Lauryn Hill. Really dry guitar and no chords, just a good riff. I also wanted to bring in more of my rock influences with that build up sound.
I’ve got a weird library of hits from when I was younger and I didn’t know about sample packs. I used to just listen for hours for any hit I could find. I had this really nice snare from this Curtis Mayfield song that I used for this one. But given I was going for that Bubba Sparxxx style of hip-hop I liked using a bunch of ringy custom elements. Triangles, shakers, and a lot of other natural sounds.
I love the bassline on that as well. I tuned the guitar down to serve the purpose of bass guitar and it made it sound a lot nicer with the manipulation. The bongos were also integral. I layered a few different bongo loops right and left with a lot of weird Stereo placements. I also recorded the guitars 3 times with hard pans left and right, then with one in the middle.
There’s a weird fazey sound that’s going on. I mixed this one as well. I watched the mixing engineer MixedbyAli on Youtube say that mixing in mono is really important. When I finished the first mix and listened in mono it sounded so shit, so I brought things in a little bit. The guitar had loads of chorus on it that I took off so it would still sound good if you listened on like a phone. It’s like the riff is in it’s own world because the guitar is so smooth and flowing and the drums are so percussive and busy.
The percussion really makes it and when I got it I was so happy. I also really wanted some 808s on the song so I extended that part for Lava. I wanted to have more focus on rhythm so at the end the guitar riff comes out.”