B-MACK Speaks: New Music, Creative Processes, and Future Plans

Hey boys, guess what… I had an opportunity to speak to the one and only Bruce Mack, the B-MACK!This male individual is really versatile and has multiple gifts or skills. I was happy to be able to talk to him after he released his latest funky tune “Duckgrease Burning at The Crabhouse. “

In this particular convo, Bruce was very much willing to share the meaning of his song as well as the creative process in this new track. As you would ask, it is a straight vibe!B-MACK distinctive vocal section complement each other so well with the soulful recording by MsLarayne. It is this soulful mix of funk, rhythm and blues that you will be dancing to.

However, Bruce is not only a dope composer combined with the lead vocalist but a total maestro when it comes to sound production. With this attitude, he masterfully incorporates hip-hop, funk, soul, and R&B steadily into the album. It has been like that since B-MACK and his crew Michael cox on bass, Ben tyree on guitar, chris Eddleton on the drums, Leon gruenbaum on keys since their formation in the year 2017. They primarily take influence from greats such as Funkadelic and the late Charles Bradley.

Bruce shared with me more about his whole journey into the world of creativity – starting from the young man who first witnessed the musical revolutions in Harlem and the Bronx and up to the present-day home studio experimenting in Staten Island. He is not only an amazing singer, his story is equally interesting, for real!You have to come with me to enter the fantastic world of B-MACK!Let’s goooo!


Listen to ‘Duckgrease Burning at The Crabhouse’ below
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What is your stage name

Is there a story behind your stage name?
It’s actually the short version of my name (Bruce Mack) that became a nickname started by the late Greg Tate – founder of the band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, which I’m also a contributing member of. I’ve always liked the sound of “B-MACK” as it feels simultaneously strong and joyful when I hear it.

All the other band members followed suit, affectionately referring to me as B-Mack, so when I put the press release together for the recent singles I decided to relinquish using my full name and call the whole band “B-MACK”. It is more inclusive of the players as they contribute to the sound that is based around my songwriting & voice. Did it with all caps because the name is unpredictable as are the songs and I’m a big dude.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the observation of nature. I love camping, hiking and while doing so, I gaze at nature’ often making comparions to or how it applies itself to urban life.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
In my early years (1960’s-70’s), music was like a moderator for everything I witnessed going on in my neighborhoods (Harlem & the Bronx) and around the world such as the heroin epidemic, corrupt police, racism, Vietnam war, the assasinations of the Kennedy’s, Malcolm X, and MLK. Music provided a language that helped me understand it all and was therapuetic in learning that an artist could speak, sing and/or play out their social awareness.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?
I guess to some extent we were… there were six of us, four girls and two boys. The oldest – Emmajane has passed on leaving 3 older sibling – Florence, Delores, Walter and younger sister Lydia, all talented. Emma was a hair & make-up stylist, Delores & Florence could replicate and resize images from magazine onto a wall via drawing or painting. Walter loved singing as he does to this day in church and I often imitated him when he babysat me.

But aside from Emma who had a career as a hairstylist, they never pursued careers in the arts. Youngest sibling Lydia is a wonderful singer and went to Fiorello H. LaGuardia School of Performing Arts in New York City to do so. I always felt she was “the real deal” and remember being so impressed by her making it into that school, it is probably the most well respected performimng arts high school in NYC. She actually did pursue a career in music and invited to sing in one of her groups for a short period, but life as it can do took her in a different direction. But she did teach one of her daughters to sing and that happens to be LaRayne aka MsLaRayne who is featured on the bridge of Duckgreaser…

I went to DeWitt Clinton H.S. at that time, a bit of a scatter-brain and torn between sports and music. But the vapors from my early love of music kept flowing around me… Our mother, Sallie Catherine Mack loved the performing arts, particularly dance and music, and in my formative years she always set aside time to address curiosities about what and who Lydia and I were listening to. I was a bit more curious being 3yrs older, so ‘Ma (as I called her) would tell me who the artist were and introduced me to who they were inspired by. That knowledge became important to my development in the business of music in later years and as an educator.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
Well, when you say “music industry” I think of the creative side as well as the business side… creatively I would say Sly&The Family Stone, business-wise I would say Tommy Boy Records.

Tommy Boy was an independent record label based in NYC that made me feel empowered to create my own path to expose my writing and performing skills, which I eventually did with my good friend Kenneth A. Edmonds when we formed our own indie record labe Attic Sounds, in the mid-eighties, releasing an extended-length double-sided single ‘Chemical Pollution’ b/w ‘You Got Me’ with our band (the original) PBR Streetgang.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I was inspired to sing by listening to recordings of Lambert Hendrix & Ross, King Pleasure, Betty Carter and other greats. I learned to sing by mimicking horn solos on James Brown recordings that featured Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley. After high school, I took voice lessons at the JazzMobile Workshop and then studdied classical voice in college.

Writing came naturally to me because I connected it to abstract painting, which allowed me to put words&thoughts together in unconventional ways. This worked well for me being someone not well-read or knowledgeable with figures of speach, yet I’ve always been socially aware, historically informed, romantic with nature and empathetic. I’m also a student of Sly Stone, Joni Mitchell and Brenda Russell.

I play several instruments… piano, electric bass, drumset and various percussion all self-taught. I generally acquired those skills when I would pick up an instrument attempting to create an ostinato or rhythm pattern because it would at least sound or feel like I had some ability. If it felt easy to be creative on, I would continue with it. I played around with piano and synths quite a bit because aside from it being great accompaniment with my voice, I could also convey feeling and/or the rhythm I wanted other players to capture.

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I learned to sing by mimicking horn solos on James Brown recordings that featured Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
The P-Funk Earth Tour, 1976 at Madison Square Garden. The headliner was Parliament-Funkadelic with opening act Booty’s Rubber Band.

How could you describe your music?
Quirky original songs fused with an eclectic blend of edgy funk and rock.

Describe your creative process.
My creative process is more like a short manual of approaches. One approach very personal to me often starts with the rhythm of a melodic or lyrical phrase in my head that I’ve been repeatedly singing for days, sometimes months at a time before dropping it on a rhythm track with chord changes in Logic Pro or GarageBand. Then I will start to layer it with other sounds or instruments I am hearing.

Sometimes the ideas come to me as complete arrangements and or lyrics all at once! Which is fun because I then open up the recording software and work feverishly to capture the idea and feeling. This was the case with Duckgrease Burning at The Crabhouse.

Another favorite approach is jamming or collaborating live with other musicians… I’ll bring a notepad of lyrics, and as we establish grooves we like…I’ll attempt to see which what lyrics or poem might fit, then I record the session with a handheld stereo (in case the idea is sonically sound and salvageable) device, take it home, drop it into one of the DAWs (digital audio workstation) and begin experimenting, doubling instruments, adding keys, vocals, etc..

What is your main inspiration?

What musician do you admire most and why?
Guitarist/composer/producer Vernon Reid. Because of his ability to instigate exploration and experimentation in any genre of music. To be that is beyond self-gratification because it is inclusive of all musicians involved in projects he is at the helm of or as a side contributor.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Although my style has always centered around funk, it has evolved in that I now incorporate elements, concepts and genres of Afro-Caribbean, West Africa, South America and electronica.

Who do you see as your main competitor?
That’s an interesting and excellent question. I haven’t given it much thought, but if the late great Charles Bradley (R.I.P.) were alive… I would consider him my competition because of our closeness in vocal range, tone, how we apply our voices to song, similarity in genres and band instrumentation. Although his palette of meloncholy was much deeper.
So who’s left? Hmmm…. I’ll have to say this fantastic artist based here in NYC called
Blak Emoji.

What are your interests outside of music?
Cooking, hiking, camping, I love the outdoors!

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
I think I would be a forest ranger or something in that field – no pun intended.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Although I have changed, it was my fear of trusting and giving 100% of myself to the music. Doing other jobs to earn money caused me to waste energy, which resulted in a lack of discipline to practice, which in turn made it stressful for me to work as a sideman because I had to put so much more in with short periods of time to get the music together for whatever gig I was on.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
Increase the royalty fees paid to artist by streaming platforms.

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
During the fall of 2023, I was cooking, testing different spices and temperatures to use for cooking Duck breast and rendering duck fat aka duck confit aka duckgrease, and found in all cases it came out well and was easy to do.

So after a few bites, a couple glasses of wine, and some solo dancing in the kitchen… I started using the term “duckgrease” as a metaphor for making it easy to have a good time. I was having a moment and such a good time, It made me forget my woes and the state our country is in… Then I began to imagine there being a place for everyone to go enjoy themselves as well and sat down to write this mini tale of a fictitious getaway. Pure escapism. That’s why I called this project “Duckgrease Burning at The Crabhouse!

What are your plans for the coming months?
Plans for the coming months include recording new songs to combine with previous releases for a full length album that will include vinyl & CDs. The release of a concept video for Silent Witness, booking B-MACK band in venues, and get to the woods! Oh and one small thing… Come August 9th & 10, I will be performing several songs with and conducting Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber at Lincoln Center in a concert tribute to Melvin Van Peebles, directed by his son & film director Mario Van Peebles.

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
Yes, producer Michael Cox and I are planning to do an album of electronica dance music with various singers and featured instrumentalists. Also looking forward to recording a duet with NYC Blues Hall of Fame
bassist Pete Cummings in early summer.

What message would you like to give to your fans?
Thank you for indulging my work with your continuous support, and to keep yourself and children creative and uplifted with positivity during these complex times. When we all get pass the madness, there will be banana pudding waiting for us at the ‘Crabhouse! One Love.

Mister Styx
Mister Styxhttps://musicarenagh.com
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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