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Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco

Interviewed by
Ben Coley
Sunday 4th January, 2015 8:04PM

Oddball darling of the indie scene, Mac DeMarco started playing music in high school and made a name for himself with musical project Makeout Videotape. However it wasn’t until the Canadian native moved to Montreal and signed with New York label Captured Tracks that he started to see some real success. Under the label he has released three solo albums of his unique crooner style slacker-rock. His first two albums Rock and Roll Night Club and 2 were both released back in 2012 and were received well by critics, but this year’s offering, Salad Days, has been a triumph worldwide. Now based in the Big Apple, it’s fair to say that DeMarco has had a wild couple of years. He is known for his wacky videos and outrageous live shows which are described as “raunchfests” and often contain nudity.  Later this month New Zealand-based fans will have a chance to experience DeMarco in his unfiltered glory as he visits our shores for the first time later this month to play Laneway Festival, so UnderTheRadar sat down with the tired sounding musician to talk about cigarettes, partying and why his mum is going to be a Laneway MC...

Hi Mac, how are you?

I am alright... I am currently sitting in my car in Rockaway Peninsula which is in Queens, New York.

Are you looking forward to playing Laneway and visiting New Zealand?

Yeah, it should be fun, I have never been before. I don’t know much about New Zealand. I’m good friends with Connan [Mockasin] and he has told me a little bit, but other than that I hear it’s nice.

Your mum Agnes is MC for the Australian Laneway shows. How did that get arranged and why isn’t she doing the New Zealand show?

I dunno. I don’t really ever talk to anyone anymore. They would have spoken and organised it with my manager. It’s weird, for some reason kids are really into my mum and are always talking to her on Facebook. She likes that, but I don’t know why she isn’t doing the New Zealand show.

Your songs, videos and Twitter page all reference smoking a lot. What is your fascination with cigarettes?

I like smoking and thought it was funny to proclaim to like smoking. I wrote the song Viceroy which is about a shitty brand of cigarette back in Canada that I was always smoking. Fans then started ordering them off the internet and I was just like “you idiots”.

When you meet fans do you feel a pressure to live up to the crazy persona we see online?

I don’t feel pressure to be crazy but I feel pressure to be nice. If kids come around and they ask me to do something stupid, I usually just belittle them or something. If I am feeling crazy I am feeling crazy but mostly it’s on the flip of a coin.

What has been your strangest fan moment to date?

A kid had a mental breakdown and pulled a bunch of his hair out in Rome. An ambulance had to come sedate him and take him away, which was pretty weird.

Do you think your party lifestyle is taking its toll?

I am trying to give everything up because I feel that it’s killing me. I mean…I don’t want to give up smoking, but essentially it’s just being an alcoholic. I need to cool it for a little bit and not drink myself dead every night, maybe eat a little healthier too cos I feel like shit all the time. I just want to focus on something other than partying every night.

Do you have to be drunk to perform?

No, I usually don’t drink before I get up on stage anymore.

You seem to always be surrounded by friends and family? Do you feel the urge to constantly be around people?

It depends, I am not super good at being around people and not very good at being alone. I need to find that happy medium. I flip-flop all the time.

What is next musically for you, do you feel a pressure to create something people will enjoy?

I felt a pressure with Salad Days and had to learn to not care what people thought. I am going to try and do another album in December, but I don’t know when it will be out. This time I just truly don’t give a shit whether people listen to it or not.

The song 'Chamber of Reflection' is heavily influenced by a Shigeo Sekito song and in another interview you said you based the album cover for 2 on a Haruomi Hosono album. Does Japanese music and culture have a big influence on you?

I like it, but I don’t really know a lot about it. I am a big fan of the band Yellow Magic Orchestra and all the music those guys make. I haven’t made it over there yet but when I go it will be interesting.

How is your relationship with your label Captured Tracks?

They’re good. It’s funny, when I first signed to them I was talking to them a lot and now I don’t really talk to them. They do some good stuff though.

What albums are you listening to at the moment?

I recently listened to the Anika album. She is on this label called Stones Throw and then this morning I listened to a Big Pink album.

Thanks Mac! We look forward to seeing you when you play at Laneway.

No problem, see you soon.

Mac DeMarco is playing at Laneway Festival in Auckland on 26th January. Head over here for the full line up.


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