Paige Mac Mahon & Gary van Vuuren

On a prematurely-cold summer evening Paige Mac wrap up their performance with a cheeky cover of Play that Funky Music stealing questioning glances between one another. “Gary didn’t know about this interview until now,” says a giggling Paige as we sit down together. Gary van Vuuren, the other half of this glorious duo, leans back un-phased with a beer in hand. I can see that this gorgeous girl with a jaw-dropping voice and her multi-talented cousin will be keeping things as mellow and honest as their music.

Paige Mac Mahon first picked up a guitar and sang, purely out of curiosity. “I didn’t know whether I sounded good or not.” This, coming from a nineteen year old with no voice training or guitar lessons whose vocal range astounds all those who are privileged enough to hear her, seems highly ironic yet is teeming with honesty.

The concept of ‘less is more’ seems to be lost in this day and age in terms of on-stage acts, and as Paige notes; “it is really hard to get anywhere right now because of the genre that we’re in. I’m slow and sensual.” Inspired by the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Freshly Ground, Paige was first spotted in a school musical and wound up a few years later with her charismatic bass-playing cousin Gary.

“When she got off the train she had a guitar in hand and I thought to myself, ‘wow! That’s interesting!’” Gary says as he describes first meeting Paige. Originally from Pietermaritzburg, Paige found out that she had a relative in the Mother City and jumped at the opportunity. “I never really thought about where I was supposed to go, it just happened.”  The ‘relative’ idea has confused many an audience, and is something that this multi-racial duo enjoys immensely. “Nobody believes us! I tune when we’re playing; ‘hey this is my cousin!’” With a massive smile in Gary’s direction Paige states: “I’m adopted.”

“August last year was our first gig when we played with Son of a Thousand,” says Gary, cringing. “It was all over the place!” “Actually it was a great show!” says Paige shaking her head in disagreement, moments later piping up; “The sound was bad, I snapped a string and a guy stole my guitar strap…actually it was pretty kak!”  Despite the rough start, Paige Mac as a band have gone on to gain a full band arrangement and perform with artists Natasha Meister and Josie Field as well as in events such as Battle of The Bay where they placed second. “It was a challenge but as a band we learnt so much about ourselves.”

Paige writes all the songs herself, with her wholesome lyrics mirroring her explanation that her music is about everything that life brings her. “Just Like You for example, is about a lady that I met at a train station. She explained that her husband had passed away and every day she saw her daughter she was reminded of him. It was a moment for me so I had to express it.” It is for this reason that their sound is entirely their own with an alternative, folk like feel to it.  “Sure you want people to like you, but you want them to like you for who you are.”

Despite having gigs and releasing numerous tracks both Gary and Paige are grounded in day jobs with bills to pay and dogs to feed, as I found out when our interview was interrupted by Gary being phoned over his dog’s yelps at being home alone. With the dog bringing the interview to a close I ask Paige where she sees things going from here. “It is inevitable that Gary and I will always be involved in music, whether it’s on an international basis or even just jamming in his garage. I don’t think we could ever be separated from the music, it’s like an arm. It’s like an appendage…an appendix?”

Quirky, and undeniably the new must-see kids on the block, Paige Mac offer a raw performance that leaves you not only wanting to hear more, but also to join in their hearty laughter over a beer after the gig.

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