MAC DEMARCO: FAKE IT TO MAKE IT
The kid from Montreal whose joke album debut got him signed by an NY label, by accident.
Words & photos by Monica Uszerowicz
Early press shots of 22-year-old Mac DeMarco (formerly Makeout Videotape) feature him lipsticked, bare-chested and panda-eyed. The images are sexualized to the point of groinchurn – one of the reasons he’s been labeled as ‘sleazy’. And because he’s a self-proclaimed purveyor of “jizz jazz”. And because of the titular babe in “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans,” from his first release, Rock and Roll Night Club. And because he has his vocals digitally deepened to an Isaac Hayes sizzurp.
Well those disco crooner images were recently replaced by pics of the real Mac, a chill goofball, who hangs out with lo-fi bros Ducktails and Real Estate. And who’s more sweaty than sleazy. Yep, they were fake! A spoof! For a joke album he never thought would see the light of day, let alone win him a (slightly confused) fanbase! Now, flaunting the distinct possibility that no one cares, he’s giving us the real thing: his new album, Mac DeMarco 2. We caught up with the brazen scallywag to get the lowdown on all the tomfoolery.
J&A: MAC DeMARCO
Do you do anything else, creatively speaking, besides making music? I wanted to go to school for cartooning; I was into Ralph Bakshi. But that kind of animation is ancient and not really realistic anymore. Music’s always been easy, so I stuck with that.
Easy for you specifically? My whole family’s musicians. My grandma is an opera singer. My grandpa, Hank DeMarco, was a sax player. Fun fact: he was the first person to have a biomechanical saxophone. He lost his arm to cancer, and they hooked this thing up so he could move his elbows around and still play the sax.
That is amazing. Okay, some might say you’re being… not exactly serious… with your music. To me, Rock and Roll Night Club is a huge joke! I made it in about a week when I was sick at home. I didn’t think it was going to come out. I put it on the internet, and Mike Sniper [of Brooklyn's Captured Tracks, home to DIIV, Wild Nothing etc] liked it. It’s weird to get recognition, to have record labels put your stuff out, when the record’s not the most sincere thing. I don’t really care, because I just like to have fun, but it’s definitely weird. It drives you a little crazy! Most people come to the shows expecting this deep voice and the make-up. I was playing shows a couple years ago and no one was coming. Now the internet makes people come – and it’s so confusing!
It really is. Tell us about your new album – it’s not a joke? The music still sounds pretty funny. I use weird effects. But a lot of the songs are more personal, about my family. I’ve had a girlfriend for almost three years, but I still have this craving to write pop love songs that’ll appeal to anybody. That’s what a great pop song is. Well, I guess that depends. You can do the John Lennon Plastic Ono thing, which is like, “My life is so hard!” Or you can do the Paul McCartney thing, which is like, “Baby, baby, baby!” I try to do that. I’m not really that good at it, but I like that idea. People can maybe relate to some of the new songs on Mac DeMarco 2. If someone has a good time listening to one of my songs, that’s way more than I could ever ask for.
What are you going to do after the tour?I’m probably going to sleep for a week straight, and hang out with my Kiki, my girlfriend. I think I might do a record in the spring with Chris Cohen—Captured Tracks just signed him—and Matt Mondanile, who’s in Real Estate. He does the Ducktails stuff. Chris lives on a farm in Vermont, so it’d be nice to do it Neil Young style: comb the crops, then write a song afterward. Or maybe I’ll just…I have no idea what the hell’s going on. I need to just chill with Kiki.
Snatch up a free track on us: My Kind of Woman. Mac is also touring the UK this month, playing his Manch set at our favourite venue, with Pitchfork supergroup, Brooklyn’s DIIV.
19 November – London, Birthdays
20 November – Manchester, Deaf Institute w/DIIV
21 November - Bristol, Start the Bus
22 November - Brighton, Green Door Store