Gentleman’s Corner: Tristan “Mack” Wilds on Music, Macking, and Mentorship

Tristan Mack WildsSo, what are we calling you now—Mack or Tristan?
You can call me whatever you like. [laughs] The reason I changed the name is because I wanted to change the connotation of the actor side of me and really implement the real side of me. Mack is a family name, so since I have to be so personal with my music, I want everybody to come into my life as family.

Great. So I’m your sister?
Absolutely. [laughs]

Was singing always something you wanted to do or did it kind of fall into your lap?
Music always came first for me. I was a super duper music head, and it was always a staple in my everyday life. I saw my older brother on commercials and watched friends go on auditions, so I was like, ‘Hey, I can make a few extra dollars. Let me try acting.’

How was it working with NeYo and Salaam—two people that make nothing but classics—for “Own It”?
It was amazing. Neyo wrote the first verse to the track, and the chorus then Salaam threw it at me to test my singing. He sent it to [back to] NeYo, who liked it, and gave me his blessings to finish it; so I wrote the second verse, the bridge and the rest is history.

So are you here to save R&B? We need a hero.
[laughs] I can’t promise that I’ll save R&B but I’m trying to save the sound of New York City.

We can’t catch you in any R&B beefs, right? Do you have anything you want to say to anyone?
No not at all. I don’t have any beef with anything. I just think that whole thing is funny because we’re grown men. I’ll tell you this – if I ever have beef with someone, you’ll find out afterwards. I would have already done something to end it.

We’re used to you always channeling different characters. What will we learn about who you really are through your music? 
[The album is] an in-depth look at the sound of New York City and the feelings of a young man growing up there—especially during the summer—dealing with love lost. I’m definitely a romantic at heart.

Who influences you musically?
Oh, my God, how long do you have? L-Boogie would be the top one. She’s showed me that you can blur the lines of hip hop and R&B.