Mac Ayres has been consistently sharing music since he dropped out of Berklee College of Music in 2017. But the R&B artist’s fifth album, “Comfortable Enough,” released in March, marks a turning point. Ayres, 26, found a new approach and sense of purpose with this album after experiencing disappointments in the music industry, he said.
Ayres, who’s originally from Long Island, N.Y., has credited Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, and Marvin Gaye as his influences. He returns to Boston April 28 to play Roadrunner. The singer-songwriter spoke to the Globe from New Orleans about rediscovering his love for music, being more open in his lyrics, and his time at Berklee.
Q. This is your fifth studio album. What does this album mean to you in the context of your musical journey so far?
A. I’d say this one was really based on my lack of interest in participating in the music industry anymore. I wrote it at a time I was feeling super detached. In the context of my other projects, it’s definitely the most like a journal. I really felt like I was getting [expletive] off my chest on this album rather than just trying to make songs I thought people would like to listen to. I think it was more for me than the other albums.
Q. What were your experiences in the music industry that made you consider stepping away?
A. I’ve had a lot of people try to take advantage of me and make money off of my art without necessarily deserving it. I’ve done a lot of studio sessions and co-writing sessions with people that I thought could be heroes of mine ... and it just wound up not really working out how I envisioned. It’s hard sometimes to stay creative in an industry that is begging for you to just keep producing, keep putting stuff out regardless of how authentic it is.
Q. What was the turning point when you decided to keep pursuing music?
A. It was when I wrote the song “Comfortable Enough,” from the album. I’d started listening to a bunch of different music that I hadn’t normally been listening to otherwise. I don’t know, creativity is funny like that, you only need one little spark to remember like, “Oh, I really like this.” So that was the spark that brought me back to being like, “OK, I do this for a living. I want to do this for a living.”
Q. Does this album feel more honest for you than your past albums?
A. Yeah, definitely ... they’re all honest. I always want to be myself and authentic, and I don’t want to necessarily sound like anybody else. But to a certain extent, I was, in previous projects, thinking a little bit in the lens of like, “Would other people actually want to hear this? Is this a good song to play in your car? Is this a good love song?”
Q. I saw that you posted a note on Instagram last May about this album and how you’ve been trying to work more intentionally, and you said artists are “worth more than just our discography.” When did you understand that to be true?
A. I guess right around that time that I posted it. I was in a grind-them-out, make as many songs as you can, make a song a day [mind-set]. I was sort of subscribed to that idea for a while, and then I felt like my songs were very thin as far as content, things that were interesting to me, because I was compromising all of my actual writing for just getting songs done. ... I took a step back, and it dawned on me that people always say “quality over quantity.” So I just thought that maybe if I slowed down a little bit, then I’d get the opportunity to actually write about something honest and genuine to me.
Q. Did you discover anything new musically while you were making this album?
A. I discovered that you don’t necessarily have to subscribe to song form. ... I used to be very rigid in my “this song needs verse, pre-chorus, chorus.” For this album, I played around with different kinds of sections, different section lengths, some parts that could be an outro, could be a chorus. It was part of the experience of writing so freely that it allowed me to break out of traditional song form.
Q. I read that at Berklee, you were frustrated with the curriculum. Why?
A. I did learn a lot about songwriting while I was there. In the intro classes, I was learning a bunch of terms that I still use today. It was nice to give some sort of a context to songwriting, but when I started to get into the further-along classes, it just felt like busywork to me, honestly. They say, “You have to do this to write a song,” and none of that was just writing [expletive] songs. So I thought that my time would be much better served if I just stayed in my apartment and wrote songs, and that is exactly what I did.
With CARRTOONS and Zoe Sparks. At Roadrunner, April 28 at 7:45 p.m. $27.50-$39.50. axs.com/events/458000/mac-ayres-tickets?skin=roadrunner
Interview was edited and condensed.
Abigail Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.