Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Macy Gray Embraces Her Imperfections on 'The Sellout'

By Steve Baltin (PopEater)

Watch as the free spirit discusses her new album, Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne and a 97 year old green man.

You won't hear any Auto-Tune on Macy Gray's new album, 'The Sellout.' During a recent video interview with PopEater in our LA offices, the singer-songwriter told us she's fine with her trademark flat vocals. "Well, I'm generally flat. As much as I've worked on it, I just sing flat a lot. Instead of being all upset about it, I like my flatness a little bit," she says. "And some people I actually think I'm doing it on purpose. Some people think it's style, so that's pretty cool."

For Gray, it's more important to be in the song than being technically proficient. "The cool thing is when I sing I really try to be in it, I really try to get lost in what I'm singing about, and the story that I'm in," she says. "When I'm on the mic, it doesn't work unless you're there. If you're singing about a tree, then it doesn't work unless you're at that tree, in your head at least. When you go off of that, there's a lot of things that your voices will do that aren't technically right, [but] that's always cool when it's rough and when it's honest.

And who are the other vocalists she looks to for honesty? "Well I remember I heard Axl Rose and he was just so raw. The great thing about his voice was that he was really technically right most of the time and he just had this amazing emotion," she says. "And then there's always the obvious ones, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. Although I'm naming people that I don't remember them having any imperfection. Kurt Cobain, he was pretty like raw or flawed, but it was awesome. There's a lot of rappers. I think that's what cool about Jay-Z, is he's really raw and he raps, but if you ever listen to one of his a cappellas, it's so funny because his voice cracks all the time, and it gets really high-pitched, but it works on his records."

'The Sellout' is a record where Gray gets to put all of her emotional and honest influences to use, as she delivers some of the most revealing songwriting of her career on standout tracks like the title cut and the finale, 'The Comeback.' As she tells it, the bluntness of the record comes from where she was in her life. "There are really a lot [of] me pouring my heart out, all at a time when I didn't have much going on expect my little music [and] what I was doing with that," she says. "Everything I felt and everything I had went into that."

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