Macy Gray is in a transition period right now. She can see the end of the active life for her debut album, On How Life Is, which has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, earned her a Best New Artist Grammy nomination and led to a tour with Santana and a two-song collaboration on Fatboy Slim's new album.
Now she's looking forward; in fact, Gray has already started work on her next album, which she plans to have out by March. And the statuesque singer with the colorful fashion sense doesn't hide the fact that her success during the past year has generated a certain degree of pressure.
"It's more than pressure; it's, like, terror," Gray acknowledges. "You don't want to lose what you have going. You don't want to have just one good record and that's all. So it's like more of a fear than a pressure."
That said, Gray reveals that she and her band are off to a good start on the album, with three songs already recorded and more ideas being worked on, though the process has been interrupted by a short spate of U.S. concerts and an upcoming trip to South Africa. She also took time to join D'Angelo, Nile Rogers, and others to record a version of Fela Kuti's "Water" for the upcoming Red, Hot, + Riot benefit album.
Returning to the studio during December, she plans to work with former Tony! Toni! Toné! and current Lucy Pearl member Raphael Saadiq, "just to see if we can make anything happen," and there's a possibility that George Clinton might guest on the album.
Gray says it's still "too early" to guess at what the album will sound like, but she's pleased with the way things are going so far. "Everybody's writing and coming up with ideas," she reports. "There's no great story there — no fights, no sex in the control room. Just working, that's all."