Q+A With Gavin Mac

Q+A With Gavin Mac

A swaggering alt country ode to misadventures, the brand new single Sideswiped out today from Sydney-based country sensation Gavin Mac is a slick follow up from Mac’s 2023 trio of singles, Bushfire, Live Your Life and Getaway. Also marking a further glimpse into Mac’s impending debut album, Make You Feel set for release in September, Sideswiped is a crisp outing as well as a meaningful full circle moment for the talented artist. We caught up with Gavin for a quick Q+A

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, What have you been up to today?

Hey! Today, I’ve been pretty busy working on some new music and prepping for upcoming gigs. It’s always a mix of creative time and planning logistics, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?

I’ve been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember. I got my first guitar when I was seven, and by twelve, I was totally hooked. I started songwriting at fourteen, and it’s been a wild ride ever since, weaving in and out of the music business but always coming back to my passion for creating and performing music.

Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?

I’ve been inspired by so many artists over the years, from Chuck Berry and The Eagles to Eric Clapton, Otis Redding, and Chris Stapleton. The common thread is guitar-driven singer-songwriters. These artists have such a raw, authentic quality in their music and performances that I strive to emulate.

How do you create music? Are you lyrics/story-driven, or does the music/melody come first? Explain your process.

My process is pretty fluid. Sometimes it starts with a melody or a guitar riff, and other times it’s a lyric or a story idea that sparks the creation of a song. I tend to write quickly once I get going, drawing on the emotions and experiences I want to convey.

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?

One of the biggest challenges has been balancing the creative side with the business side of music. There’s always a lot to juggle, from writing and recording to promoting and performing. But it’s all part of the journey, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Tell us about your new release Sideswiped, how did it come about?

Sideswiped is actually one of the first songs I ever wrote. It sat on the shelf for years until the pandemic gave me the time to revisit and rework it. The song captures the feeling of a day where everything goes sideways, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?

Never. Give. Up. The music industry can be tough, but if you’re passionate about your craft, keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles come your way.

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.

My favourite Zen practice has to be playing guitar in a quiet space, just losing myself in the music. It’s my way of meditating and staying grounded amidst the chaos.


Produced by multi CMAA and ARIA Award winner Matt Fell, Sideswiped welds Mac’s effortless combination of nostalgic country licks, with rock, folk and soul hues linked alongside nods to Chris Stapleton, Eric Clapton, Midland, and John Mayer. Summed up by Mac himself as being “like mechanical bull riding”, Sideswiped evolved from a demo that first drew Mac to the attention of Sony Music Australia as a teenager, as Mac explains, “I first penned, then demoed Sideswiped when I was just 16 years old. The demo helped me capture the attention of Sony Music Australia, who ultimately signed me. By the time the deal was done, I had grown a bit older, and moved to a different place musically, so the song (and I) got shelved. It wasn’t until years later that I dug it out, rewrote it and recorded it properly for the first time, with Matt Fell, and incredible guitarist, Ben Butler.”

Teaming up with Grammy Award winner William Bowden on mastering duties, Sideswiped also features Mac’s effortless vocals and earworm choruses along with guitarist extraordinaire Ben Butler (Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega) on lead guitar, culminating in a track built both for sun-soaked highway road trips and hazy whiskey bars; or, as Mac reveals, to also soundtrack those days where things go from bad to worse. “I love classic cars, so I’m pretty sure there was a subconscious desire to write a song that featured one,” shares Mac. “The story itself though, is one of misadventure mixed with a dollop of bad karma. A bit like something out of a Quentin Tarantino flick, the (fictional character, loosely based on yours truly) has the proverbial day from hell, that starts off a mess and just gets worse, and with every turn. We all have those kinds of days…right?

Discovered at the age of 16 by Sony Music’s Denis Handlin and John Watson, Gavin Mac quickly gained the title of being Sony Music Australia’s youngest-ever Australian recording artist at the time. Evolving his music industry skills and knowledge in the years to follow, Mac worked alongside both international and iconic Australian artists, including previous work with Nickelback, Queens of the Stone Age, Linda & Vika Bull, and Alex Lloyd. And from managing A&R duties for Roadrunner Records to stepping back from the industry to raise his family, Mac still kept his creative fires alive, co-founding the award-winning brand experience agency Urban, conceiving and delivering marketing campaigns for Electronic Arts, Airbnb, and Netflix.

With years away from music, a fortuitous 2019 road trip to the Tamworth Country Music festival provided the very kindling that would ultimately turn Mac’s gaze firmly back to his passions, songwriting and storytelling, with the Melbourne-hailing singer-songwriter emerging from his musical hiatus with gusto in 2023 balancing renewed purpose, perspective and the powerful drive that comes with unfinished business. In 2023, Mac released his debut solo singles Getaway, Live Your Life and Bushfire, amassing over 300K streams and counting, with 2024 also garnering Mac his first industry nod, taking home the Tamworth Music Association’s 2024 New Songwriter of the Year. Now poised to release his long-awaited debut album, Make You Feel on September 5, Mac’s latest single Sideswiped is the perfect appetiser, providing a full-bodied taste of the dynamic sound and depth of songwriting lying in wait later this year; and there will also be plenty of good vibes in the mix when Mac takes the stage with his new material in Northcote and Waverley in June, as Mac concludes: “I love fans and people who discover me at my shows to feel like they’ve just been invited into a  party with their close mates. No egos, lots of chatter and songs you can stomp along to.”

Sideswiped is out today.

Make You Feel is set for release on Thursday September 5.