You don’t come across people like Kevin Mackay often. A man with a passion for life and the stage, this young visual arts teacher is one of our most in-demand artists at Kabann, and once you’ve been to one of his live shows, it’s easy to see why. His performances are infectious, and his vast and eclectic repertoire means there’s a little something for anyone who comes to the show. We sit down with the talented musician to discuss his influences, his collaboration with Kabann, football and a possible future album.
| Let’s get the obvious questions out of the way, when did you start playing music?
Kevin Mackay: I started at 16. My sister had signed up for guitar lessons, and whenever she wasn’t around, I’d take the guitar, go on Youtube and try to learn a few songs. Some people will tell you that 16 is late to start playing an instrument, but, memorizing the melodies came naturally to me. It’s a god-given talent I’m grateful for.
| Ok, so what’s the first song you learned to play and sing?
KM: I’m yours by Jason Mraz. I love that song; it’s got that positive vibe you know, and my interpretation of the lyrics is that it’s an ode to god. So I wanted to learn that one first.
| You come across as being very religious…
KM: Yes. I thank god for everything I do. I even start some of my shows by singing church songs. I get a few raised eyebrows at the start, but eventually, the crowds get really into it.
| That’s a unique way to start a set! Speaking of live shows, could you tell me more about how your collaboration with Kabann started?
KM: They spotted me at Porlwi by Light. I was playing at the Happy World House, and Kabann founder Cedric Cartier approached me after the show. He said he liked what I was doing and asked me if I was interested in joining. I said yes, played my first show for them at the RIU hotel, the crowd loved it, and I’ve been with them ever since.
| What’s your favorite venue to play in?
KM: Again, RIU Hotel. The guests always love what I do, and it’s the place where I’ve done some of my best performances. The audience gets involved. They sing and dance, and at the end of shows, I even get standing ovations. I feel loved there!!
| We’re glad you enjoy it that much. But, is there a dream venue where you’d eventually love to play?
KM: Hmmm. No, not really. The place is not important to me. As long as I bring joy to people, I’m fine. That’s one of the things I love about playing for Kabann. They give me the opportunity to play in so many places and share my music with people from all around the world. It’s a great way for me to do what I love.
| So what can we expect from a Kevin MacKay live show?
KM: To see the true colors of my soul… I love music, and I make sure my passion comes across when I play, whatever genre that is. Music is a universal language, so whether it’s Chinese, Indian, Western or whatever… I’ll play it and share an incredible moment with the crowd.
| That’s a wide variety of influences. Earlier on you were talking about Jason Mraz and your love for his music. Would you consider him an influence too?
KM: I have so many!! but yes, if I had to draw a parallel between an international artist and myself, I’d say it would be like Jason Mraz or Ed Sheeran perhaps. But it’s not limited to that. I love diversity, and I try to bring different musical styles into what I do, stuff like Kaya and Cassiya for example.
| Yes, Kaya and Cassiya are legends on the local scene. Is there anyone new with the potential to influence local music as they have?
KM: I think that guys like Lin and The Prophecy are worth a listen. But to be honest, I always go back to my classics like Kaya or Nitish Joghana (Latanier) not only because the music is good, but because the message in their lyrics is powerful and still relevant to Mauritian society.
| That’s interesting. You haven’t created an album yet, but if you did, would it be more focused on delivering a message or making people dance?
KM: Everyone is asking me to do one, so I guess it’s high time I take out my pen and my writing pad! But no, I haven’t created anything musically yet. I know it will happen eventually and that one day the inspiration will come to me, but for now, I’ve got too much on my plate to set aside time to create. When I do though, I’d like my music to educate people and bring change. I’m a teacher after all, and I think that music is the best way to make a message come across. You can sit someone down in a room and feed them information, but it won’t be as effective as wrapping it up in a catchy song. But don’t get me wrong, I love making people dance, and I respect artists who focus on that, but I’d like my music to leave its mark.
| Yes, we hear you’re a busy man. So, when you’re not passionate about music or teaching, what else do you do?
KM: I love football. I used to play for the Mauritian National Youth Teams, U12’s, U15’s, U20’s… you name it. I managed to win a gold medal for the CJSOI games (Commission de la Jeunesse et des Sports) and traveled around Africa for various competitions like the COSAFA cup.
| There are many kids out there who would love to be in your shoes, why did you stop?
KM: I didn’t want to go pro. A footballer’s career ends when he’s about 34, and I wanted more of a long-term plan. Athletes don’t get much support in Mauritius so if I got injured or anything like that, there’s no real backup plan that the authorities can offer. But it’s still my passion, and will always be part of my life. In my opinion, sport, music, and education are the three pillars of healthy human being, so even if I’m focused on music right now, I still make sure I get some jogging done every day.
| Ok, back to the music then. What would your dream collaboration be…?
KM: Meeting a girl that’s a musician, marry her and go from being a solo artist to a duo! In the meantime, I’d love to play with someone with a radically different musical background and mixing our styles. Kind of like what Dominique Barret and Meera Mohun did on “Mon Coeur Epris.”
| We wish you luck in finding the future wife then. Any last words you’d like to share with our readers before signing off?
KM: Stay true to yourself in everything you do and give thanks to god.
| Thanks for your time Kevin
KM: Thank you and see you at the show!
Follow the link for Kevin Mackay video : https://youtu.be/-DahuhM9IrE