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  • Annette Dawm

Wes Mack's Path to Storytelling

Wesley MacInnes, professionally known as Wes Mack, is many things: an actor, a director, a singer-songwriter/musician and a former member of a Power Rangers club, but ultimately he’s a storyteller who enjoys “taking people for a ride” with what he creates. Wes’ career path shows that people don’t necessarily have to pick one path and that the things they love can be intertwined:

“I’m a huge fan of being the ‘Jack of all trades’. Here’s a funny thing about that quote. Often times, people will say, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ as if to say, ‘oh, you’re not any good at any specific thing’. However, the actual full quote, historically, is longer than that. [It’s] a misnomer. It goes, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none but that is still better than a master of one’. The idea being that, being well-rounded and having different pursuits is good for you and is healthy…. It satisfies different parts of your soul!” Mack explained.

Recently, Wes embarked on a Canada-wide radio tour in order to promote his newest single, “House On Fire”, which very quickly reached #4 on the iTunes charts. It was also streamed 40 000 times on Spotify in the week that followed its release! Regarding this accomplishment, he said, “So much work went into getting my second album together and… I wrote just over 60 songs to find that.” It was mentioned that out of those 60 songs, he recorded 36 demos, many of which will not make it onto this record. “It’s been like a year and a half to two year process and to have the first single out be well received… it’s nice to have the first one out of the gate go well…. because you have no idea how it’s going to do! It could totally bomb!”

However, if the success of his first album, Edge of the Storm is any indication, Wes is not likely to “totally bomb”. In 2016, Edge of the Storm was nominated for “Album of the Year” at the CCMAs. “That was probably one of the most important awards I’d ever been nominated for. I spent so long working on that record for a couple of years-- writing for it as an indy artist, piecing it together--and to have it not only yield a bunch of successful radio singles and that, but to have the entire album as a whole be considered as ‘Album of the Year’, it meant a lot. So many people worked on that! Like, the writing process took so long! It changed my life!” Mack described himself as a “pencil and paper guy” in terms of his songwriting process. Because of how much he uses his computer and phone during the day. He laughed and said, “You’ve got to feel the paper!”

Additionally, in 2016 and 2017, Mack was nominated at the CCMAs for “Interactive Artist of the Year”, an award based on artists’ use of social media. “[Social media] just gives me an opportunity to get closer to fans. I don’t get to do any of this without fans in general. There are no shows. I have played once in my life, a show to zero people! It was at a bar in Edmonton with a rock band that I was playing with. I was playing bass for them, and not only were there no people but the actual bar tender left the room at one point in time. So there was actually no one in the crowd. I remember looking around and we were like, ‘Alright, I guess we’re going to keep playing! We’re being paid to play!’ At that point we just kind of treated it like a rehearsal….” Suddenly Wes remembered, “Actually, one person did show up and we came down into the crowd and played around them—this wasn’t like a Wes Mack Show. I’m not kidding when I say it was a really fun show! It was more just me and the band having fun! That’s the reason I play music, to go and have fun on stage!”

Mack’s music has often lead him to direct many of his own videos, including the one for “House On Fire”. Over time, Wes has found that directing music videos has “totally” gotten easier. In the beginning, he found this task to be “super stressful”, but has learned a lot with each new experience. “I went from directing very tiny music videos to all of a sudden having a budget to work with and having these 30 person crew kind of videos which were just very difficult logistically…. I think I’ve got it now to sort of a happy medium where we can do something in the middle [with] a decent sized crew and as many actors as you need but it’s not ballooned…. I just feel like I’ve learned what I need to tell a story and what I don’t need…. The ‘House On Fire’ video has the guys in my band and my girlfriend and a couple of her friends. Literally everyone there is a buddy of mine. It really was like a party! We had so much fun!”

As seen in his music video for “Listen to Me”, Wes and his band had the opportunity to open for Shania Twain on what was originally thought to be her farewell tour. Mack described Shania as “the kindest person” and quickly learned that her larger than life persona is something she saves for the stage. “Honestly, she’s great! She came up and introduced herself on the very first day of the tour and I really appreciated this. She pulled me and my band aside and said,

‘Hey, you might not see me around a ton. I’m super happy to have you on this tour but I’m a kind of introverted person.’ It was cool though because she was being very legitimate with us. [Shania said,] ‘So, you’ll see me around. You might not see me every single day…. I just keep to myself a lot of the time.’” What Wes enjoyed most about that conversation was that he felt it gave him permission to also keep to himself. “I’m kind of an introverted person at times too, but I like getting up on stage and putting on a show. So it’s cool to see someone of her calibre to be huge on stage and to be kind of a normal person off stage. I like that.”

Wes also likes The Power Rangers. A lot. In 2017, a childhood dream of his came true when he was able to be a part of The Power Rangers Movie. When asked what comes to mind whenever he hears the phrase, “Go, Go Power Rangers!” he laughed and said, “Well, initially, I jump to my childhood. When I was in grade three, I was in The Power Rangers Club in my school so it was like a big deal. Then to get to be in The Power Rangers Movie this last year was kind of nuts because [I was] involved in a franchise from my childhood. The childhood version of myself was going crazy….” He admitted that he would love to one day meet actress, Amy Jo Johnson. “She’s a legend! She’s the original Pink Ranger!”

Also on the acting side of things, Wes auditioned for the hit series Riverdale a number of times. “I auditioned to play Archie! Surprise! It’s the hair!” He added, “I recently auditioned to play another guy on the show and I didn’t end up getting it. I’m really curious to see who ends up in the role.” Despite that these parts ultimately went to other people, Wes is hopeful he will eventually be seen on Riverdale.

Although he didn’t get to hang out with Jughead (yet), Wes did get to work with Liam Neeson on a film called Hard Powder which is due out later this year. “I’ve been a Liam Neeson fan since I was a kid. That will be kind of neat to see. Also, I actually think the film itself--like the script-- is spectacular! If it cuts together the way I think it can, it could be really strong…. I really think that the folks working on this and the director are very talented, so it’s in good hands.”

While one might think that he’s done it all, there are still a few things Wes would like to try. He has an interest in writing film scores and he would also like to see a “sci-fi-ish” television show that he’s been writing come to life. “It’s something I’ve been playing around with for a couple of years and just slowly picking away at. I love the idea. Again, it all goes back to telling stories and taking people on a ride. That’s a form I really haven’t gone that far into. Most of my directing has been for music videos. So, doing something that’s a little longer would be cool. Or, I could become a dancer! I’m not very good at dancing, but you know, ‘fake it ‘til you make it’! That’s the story of my life!”

For now though, Wes Mack’s main focus is to complete his album and be able to play the songs for more than one person in a crowd: “The whole theme on my writing for this record is ‘create stuff that works extremely well live’. It’s made for the live show, so to actually go and see what that’s going to feel like is going to be great!”

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Photo by Annette Dawm.

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