Macy Keefer is always in my peripheral vision on social media and Central PA goings on. If there’s a party happening, Macy is either the life of that party or she’s performing at it, solo or with her band Macy K and the Oven Fresh Hot Delicious.
She and I had been Twitter and Facebook acquaintances for quite some time, but had only met in person several days before we spoke for this interview. She’d invited me to a coloring/adult beverage party. Because that’s Macy – always gathering people from all areas of her busy life and bringing them together for some R and R, and booze. She collects friends the way you collect pennies – randomly, never fully remembering where they came from, and not realizing the immense number you have until you stop to count.
Upon meeting her, Macy breezed into the room, locked eyes with me and opened her mouth into a toothy grin, saying, “Hiiiiiii.”
“Welcome to the hippie party,” she’d say to friends as they huddled around a large table with their coloring books and Solo cups before trying to introduce everyone and remember where she knew them from. Not-so-surprisingly, I was not the only friend she’d made online.
We interviewed at her place of work, the Reader’s Café in downtown Hanover, in December. The café, like Macy, is at the center of everything going on in this small town that has more to it than meets the eye. Only two people came in on the Wednesday afternoon, and it’s a calm atmosphere which collides with the romp of her music and roller derby lifestyle.
Blayne Waterloo: You’re from Hanover, right?
Macy K: I’m originally from Maryland. We relocated here when I was in fourth grade. So, technically I’ve been here most of my life. We moved around a bunch before that, but I’ve been in Hanover for the last 10-11 years.
BW: That’s so weird, because when I think of Hanover, I think Macy. You’ve become such a personality here.
MK: I guess so. I like to get my nose in a lot of stuff.
BW: What kind of things do you like to get your nose into?
MK: I do a lot of odd jobs. Like, when I started working in town, [Reader’s Café] was one of the first jobs I had, and I met a lot of people through here that have really pushed me out into the Hanover world – that want to make downtown something bigger than what it is. And it’s gotten me into working at Something Wicked Brewery. I worked at the Changing Lives Shelter for two years; I was a cold caller at a little, tiny phone business. I started the creation of the Sound Room – it’s where live music happens every weekend. I don’t know, I like to get into anything I can.
BW: That makes sense, because there’s never a time when I don’t see you doing something, or at some event on Facebook or something like that. So do you ever sit still?
MK: Yeah [laughs], more often than not, actually, I feel like when I’m sitting still I’m making plans to do something. When I sit still, I like to veg for a really long time if I can. Because I feel like I’m on the go so much that sitting is like, “Oh my god, I have six hours to do nothing. This is great.” I was like that through high school, too. I went to school from 7-3, then I had show choir, then I had band practice. I’d go home or I’d go to sleep at like, three in the morning, and then I’d wake up and do it all over again.
BW: From what I’ve gathered on social media, your grandmother is a huge influence in your life. What’s that like, and how does that influence your day-to-day?
MK: Well, my mom is a very free spirit, and was not always completely present for everything I did. She 100 percent backed me up with everything – I give her full credit. She’s very proud of everything I’ve done, but my grandmother is, like, my No. 1 fan. She comes to all the derby games, she’s come to almost every show if it’s not late. She’ll always send me a text, like, “Good luck! I’m sure it’s great” It’s so great to have that. I meet a lot of people whose families say, “Don’t go into drawing” or “Don’t go into music. You’re never going to make money, you’re never going to do anything.” But my grandparents have fully backed me up, 100 percent, every time.
BW: So, how did you get involved in music? Was that just something you had always done?
MK: Yeah. Music has been a huge part of my life. I sang forever. I sang since I started talking. My mom was big into karaoke, and I’ve gone to karaoke contests in the mall. I joined choirs throughout school. I tried out for district choir, I did show choir, I did some theater stuff. And then, eventually, I picked up a guitar – my sister’s guitar, she was not happy about that – and I started teaching myself. Actually, the first night I picked it up, I taught myself a song. Just like plucking random strings and stuff, and watching hands on a YouTube video. And my mom was like, “That sounds pretty good. Let’s go to open mic tonight.” And that’s what I did. I just got up on stage and was like, “I learned this song two hours ago.”
BW: But you say it like it was so easy, just to get up on stage. Were you just never shy?
MK: I don’t think I’ve ever been shy. I feel like I have 10 different personalities sometimes. But, I don’t know. Performing has just always been another part of me that I’ve never had to worry about. So getting on stage in front of a bunch of people was not an issue. It’s scary sometimes, when you learn something new, and it’s like, “I’m going to perform this in front of a bunch of people I don’t know.” But people were like, “That was pretty good. You should work on it and come back.”
BW: The music that you do, is there a way to describe it?
MK: It is a chameleon, I’d like to say. The music I play solo is very different from the music I play with a three-piece, and very different from what I play with a full band. So, depending on who I have that’s available, we can play similar songs, but they’ll still sound totally different versus how we play it with a full band, versus solo, versus whatever. It’s just all over the place.
BW: Do you have a preference?
MK: I really love having a full band. Because I like wailing, and I like three-part harmonies. I don’t know, there’s just an energy that comes from playing with your friends, it’s just unreal. I can’t even describe it.
BW: In terms of genre, is there a focus you’d like to stay in? Or do you prefer it being kind of a chameleon?
MK: I kind of like playing all across the board. Just because, anywhere we’ve played, it’s never the same age group. It’s very mixed. You have people who are in college, people who have been graduated for a while, and then you have 50-60-year-olds who like the old classic stuff. It’s nice to play some of the classics and change it, and then the older generation will hear it and be like, “Hey, I recognize that song.” And then we’ll play a newer song, like, I don’t know, Britney Spears. And then someone our age will be like, “Oh my gosh, that Britney song was awesome.” I don’t know, I like to mix it up a lot.
BW: Do you have a goal in mind with Macy K and the Oven Fresh Hot Delicious?
MK: Being more organized is nuts. Not a thing I’m very good at. I’m trying to get better at it. But we’re very free-spirited as a full band. We’ve talked about writing songs, and that was our goal this year, and we never did that. If anything, I would really like for us to record something to put out there. Because I’ve had so many people come to shows and say, “When are you going to put a song out? When are you going to put an album out?” It’s hard to get five people together to do that, and to have the money to do that is really hard.
BW: So, in the long run, do you want to do that full time?
MK: It would be nice to do that full time, but I don’t think that’s practical for my particular lifestyle. My boyfriend and I are pretty serious, and I would like to see that expand into something like a family. And I know, I’ve read up on a lot of artists who are successful in touring and stuff, but I just can’t imagine spending that much time away. It’s something I’d like to pursue, for sure, until I die. But I just don’t want it to be the main focus of my life. I like having it as like a side project.
BW: So, if you’re not looking to do music full time, do you want a career? Do you like doing multiple things to mix it up?
When I graduated school, I started taking photography courses, and I really wanted to get into that. And then I learned that the business side of that is really hard, and I’d have to have a lot of self-motivation to really keep that going, and then I said, “No, I’m not responsible enough. I don’t really want to do that anymore.” So I stopped doing that, and music kind of took place of that. And I knew it was going to, it always has. Music has been the top tier for everything I’ve ever done. I want to keep skating as long as I can, until my knees finally break. And I’d love to get back into dance – theater stuff.
BW: How did you get into skating? Was it because you had a bunch of friends who were into it?
— macy k (@hellomacyk) October 20, 2015
MK: No. When I graduated, I didn’t really have any friends. Everybody moved. I lived on my own. My parents moved to Maryland, and I said, “I can’t leave the Café! I have to stay here!” I rented an apartment right next door to this café, so I could wake up at 8:55, and come over at 9 in the morning. But I really didn’t have any friends. The people I talked to from here were the people I talked to on a daily basis, and they became my friends, and that was it. But a girl who owns a small business on the corner – the frame shop – she came in one day with a flyer. This was in 2012. And I asked what it was for, and she said it was for roller derby, and they were having a game. And I was like, “Oh my god, what? What is that?” And she was like, “Yeah, you should go try out. Have you ever seen Whip It?” And I was like, “Yeah! I just saw it, it was so good!” And three years later, here I am. The people I’ve met in derby are some of my closest friends. I mean, at the drop of a hat they’ll be like, “I’ll come pick you up,” or, “let’s do something, you’re sad.”
BW: Do you consider yourself a physically violent person?
MK: Oh god, no. I wouldn’t – well, I would hurt a fly. I killed one last week. But no, I’m not a violent person. I don’t really get angry – not in public. It’s so cool, because the person I was when I started derby is so far from the person I am now. Derby helped me come out of my shell, and really grow into the person I am. And music has done that, too. When I first started music I was kind of shy, in a way, and I was kind of inept in a lot of ways, and music just helped me grow, and derby has, too.
BW: [Central PA] is becoming progressive in terms of feminism and accepting those kind of things. What have you run into in terms of that, and what’s your philosophy in overcoming it?
MK: This partially goes hand-in-hand with derby. Before I started derby, and before I started really focusing on music, I was not a person who would speak my mind. I would not stand up for myself. If someone said something that offended me, I’d just pretend it didn’t happen. Now that I’m more aware of who I am and what my beliefs are, I am the kind of person who will say, “F— you” – sorry, Grandma – to somebody who’s catcalling somebody else or me. If somebody says something that offends me, I’ll say, “I disagree with that, and here’s why.” I like to be civil about it. I’m not trying to start fights, I’m not a troll. This town is so different and it’s so hard to pinpoint what most people’s views are here. It’s very Republican, and there are a lot of younger people who are Democratic or Independent. I try not to focus on politics at all. I don’t read political articles. I don’t have television, so I don’t watch the news. I get all the news from local newspapers if I pick something up, or the internet. There is a small outbreak happening, of more feminism – and not the kind of feminism that’s like, “women are better.” But the kind of feminism that’s like, “Don’t put women down, because what if you thought that, too?”
BW: Are there any plugs you have that you want to get out?
MK: Not really. We don’t have anything coming up, but I do want to say that my bass player Cory, has opened his own record store [Whirled Records] just around the corner. We’re really proud of him, and I think we’re probably going to play there soon as a full band. They have a lot of cool stuff going on. They just opened in October.