We sat down with Canadian musician Mac DeMarco on the first night of his European tour to find out more about his recent detainment, rumors about working with Tyler, The Creator and more.
In the past two years Canadian musician Mac DeMarco has burst onto the festival scene with a fascinating mix of mellow rock and explosive stage presence that has made him a hero of the counterculture. In this age of bombastic self-aggrandizement, his juvenile antics and ruffled appearance give hope to the many who can't relate to blowing a hundred stacks or getting fucked up in Paris. We had the good fortune to sit down with him and discuss run-ins with the police, awesome gigs and his friendship with Tyler, The Creator. Take a look at our interview below and pick up Mac's latest album Salad Days from Amazon.com.
So what happened at your Santa Barbara show?
Well, I went crowdsurfing like I always do and climbed this [railing] at the student union building to the second level. And they had a shitload of security that night and they were being kinda weird. I mean for good reason 'cos that weird stuff happened there 10 months ago. But anyway, the cops didn't realize that I was the one playing the show. I think they just thought I was a student so they got me upstairs and then walked me down. Then I ran away from them and tried to finish the show but they'd shut the power off.
So then this guy did the wrap-the-arm-around-the-back thing. But I didn't get arrested. And yeah, they were trying to claim that I was trespassing but I was getting paid to be there. It's just kinda ridiculous but it made for a good headline.
Have you had any trouble like that before?
It depends on where we are but I have trouble with the security at shows a lot. Usually they don't fuck with me but there's been a couple times where they've roughed kids up for underage drinking, maybe getting on the stage. I don't mind. You don't have to put the kid in a headlock! I saw one security guard in Portugal shove a glove into this kid's mouth which was fucking weird. So yeah, sometimes I have a problem with it. But I'd never been detained before.
What you do on stage, is it something you come up with before the show or is it improvised on the spot?
We just kinda get up there, try to play the songs and enjoy ourselves. It definitely depends on the vibe but me and my band are old friends so we're just hanging out. And some nights, if the crowd can hang out with us, then everybody's just hanging out.
Is there one show in particular that sticks out as particularly awesome or crazy?
There was this show we played in Big Sur near SF. I don't remember the name of the place but it's a little cafe, like a food co-op, on the side of the highway. Behind it there's this stage in the trees and they let you stay in this yurt behind the stage. That was great. Pretty small show but the best vibe. Everybody was commuting to the show so they all really wanted to come. Had a good time there.
Do you find that playing bigger venues limits how you can act on stage, like at festivals for instance?
We still act whatever way we want but it's weird. Playing those festivals, thinking "Okay, we only have 50 minutes!" It's kinda in the back of your head the whole time. The crowd's a lot further away, people aren't neccessarily there just to see you. It's festival crowds: It can be good. It can be bad. It just depends but it's definitely a different vibe than playing a club show.
Do you still refer to what you do as "Jizz Jazz?"
What does that mean to you?
Creamy, smooth... maybe I'll use the word "cummy."
What about working with Tyler, The Creator? You guys still planning something?
Tell you the truth about that white chocolate thing, that was a full-blown lie. But I was lying about it so much that everybody thinks it's real now so we'll probably have to do the album. Tyler wants me to play guitar on his new record. Actually, we were playing in LA at the Fonda and he came to our show. And he was in the mosh pit with all these kids but then they started realizing he was in there so he got on the stage. Kids fucking love Tyler. We'll probably work together to some extent at some point.
Are there any other contemporary musicians you listen to?
I really like Connan Mockasin. He's my number one these days. We played a couple shows with him recently. The guy that's opening for us on this tour, Juan Waters, is also really pimp. There's a guy that my label just signed called Dinner and we played with him. He actually lived here in Berlin for a while but I think he's from Copenhagen. But he lives in LA now and he does this thing where he gets on stage, and it's like an aerobics workout. That's what it looks like he's doing, pumping everyone up. And afterwards he's like, "Oh, it's just a zen thing that I do. And so, it doesn't even matter if there's a crowd." His music's really cool.
You now have your own 7-inch subscription service. Do you think there's still a place for the physical product in music?
Yeah, I think so. I don't even know who buys my records nowadays. But for me personally, if I can get something to hold in my hands, it's always a lot better. It's good to have something that quantifies it or makes it real. Even if you just make your own cassettes at home, it's nice.
Lastly I wanted to ask you about your self portrait photos, specifically the naked and/or pseudo-sexual ones. Are you trying to express something different with those or do they tie into your music?
Yeah, I think that's usually just me fucking around. There's not really much thought that goes into that. Just, hey, maybe I was naked one day. And that's it.
Pick up a copy of Mac's latest album Salad Days from Amazon.com.