Mac Ayres just got back from a European tour. His debut EP, “Drive Slow” (Fete), landed on Billboard’s list of top R&B albums of 2017.
But when the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Sea Cliff is asked about the title track of his EP, he laughs. “It’s about enjoying life — not going too fast,” he says. “When I wrote it, I was thinking about hitting the mall at Roosevelt Field.”
When Ayres left Sea Cliff for Berklee College of Music, he wanted to become the next John Mayer. But after his friend, saxophonist Zach Berro, introduced him to the music of D’Angelo, Ayres was quickly hooked, not just on R&B, but on playing the piano. “It just resonated with me,” says Ayres, who now has Berro and drummer Chris Anderson, his friend from North Shore High School, in his band. “I was struck by how much passion was in his music.”
Ayres funneled that interest into “Slow Down,” his way of justifying skipping classes to write more music. “My goal is to just keep playing shows and writing music,” he says. “I want to reach out to people and make them feel something.”
Ayres plays Elsewhere, 599 Johnson Ave., Brooklyn, on Friday, Feb. 16.