Music Interview Interview

Top image: Mac DeMarco in HERO 11. 

Mac DeMarco is a word-of-mouth phenomenon, which is impressive given the sprawling, online world. The Canadian owns that warped, coupla-plays-left blissed-out sonic that spawned spawned a new sound – and nothing’s better than the original. 

Today, DeMarco releases his new record, This Old Dog. To celebrate the drop, we’re revisiting our HERO 11 head-to-head between the musician and his equally wacky friend Connan Mockasin. Forget normal rules of logic, they won’t be needed here. 

Connan Mockasin: How are you?
Mac DeMarco: I’m good right now, doing OK. How are you bud? Where are you right now?

Connan: We’re driving from Switzerland to Copenhagen. Sixteen hours or so it’s taking us…
Mac: Ohhh.

Connan: Yeah we were doing the same tour when we first saw you.
Mac: I don’t know if you know this guy who works at my record label from New Zealand called Josh Burgess. He wanted to ask you about Tane? I don’t know what that is but he asked me to ask you…

Connan: Oh yeah Tane – he’s a guy who used to live illegally at the primary school I taught guitar from. He lived in the school. We’d go watch movies at his and eat fish and chips. [Laughs].
Mac: At an elementary school?

Connan: At a primary school in Wellington. So we’d go there and hang out, watch movies and stuff after the security guards had done their check.
Mac: So the school didn’t realise he was living there? That’s very strange.

Connan: [Laughs] Well, it wasn’t just me he’d invite to watch movies with him! It wasn’t anything more than that – he had fish and chips so it was cool. We played in a band together like a tin piece really bad jam kinda band called The Circus Machine. He had like a music business, I used to teach guitar and that was my first job when I left home.
Mac: Oh there you go. Not too shab, not too shab. So I heard you were living in Manchester, are you?

Connan: Yeah, but after South by Southwest I won’t be.
Mac: I’ve had a little piece of Manchester meat hanging out with me, actually, a little guy named Alex. He’s been chilling pretty hard, we’ve had the Philly cheesesteak, I’ve been showing him all the local cuisines. Giving him some local experience and we might record a little music.

Connan: I’d love to hear your music.
Mac: We’ll see. He’s got a bunch of songs he wants to record so…

Connan: I was gonna ask, which YMO [Japanese electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, formed in the 70s] member you’d most like to go on a date with?
Mac: It’d have to be Ruichi. He’s so sexy. You know I’ve been listening to a lot of YMO.

Connan: Yeah he’s cool. That’s brilliant. [Both laugh].
Mac: Hello? You there? [Connan has gone, samba music plays]. HELLO? You guys go through a tunnel or something?

Connan: Yeah, we must have. Everyone says hi!
Mac: Let’s see… I know you told me this isn’t true but it’s rumoured you haven’t listened to anyone else’s music for the past ten years?

Connan: That’s not true at all. I was asked what were the last releases that really excited me and the first thing that came to mind was Andre 3000’s The Love Below record. I said I hadn’t heard much since then that I was excited about.
Mac: OK, so you can just stomp out all the rumours regarding that now then.

Connan: I can set that record straight right there.
Mac: Connan Mockasin, huge fan of Justin Bieber and Lorde… Oh Lorde, a lot of people have been talking about her. She’s just seventeen now. Maybe that’s a good thing or maybe it’s a bad thing, only time will tell.

Connan: Justin Bieber is from Canada. He’s been causing a lot of trouble lately, hasn’t he?
Mac: He has been. There was a petition signed last week, 100,000 Americans signed a petition to deport him. But I think it’s a misdemeanour, Bieber’s stayin’. Plus he makes so much money for the States I doubt that would ever happen. Fun fact actually, Bieber is on the same Visa as we are on. We got that Bieber power!

Connan: That’s cool.
Mac: He thinks he’s hot shit but he’s not at all. He’s just like you and me.

Connan: I had this question I wanted to ask you Mac. Basically the first proper one. It was ‘What’s wrong?’
Mac: Nothing really I guess. What’s wrong? That’s a crazy question, I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked a question like that before!

Connan: I thought you were gonna say something about Splinter. [Both laugh]. That was a joke question.
Mac: You been keeping the Splinter dream alive?! For anyone who is reading this article, this is a reference to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. If you haven’t seen it, watch it you punk ass motherfucker.

Mac DeMarco from HERO 11. Photography by Michael Avedon

“He wears a pink hat, cowboy boots and nothing else. He grabs his balls and the shaft of his penis very violently and he paints with his penis.”

Connan: Yeah that’s the one, it’s brilliant.
Mac: I have an interesting question in my funny list here. If you could give me a new look what would it be?

Connan: Well, it would be to grow your hair long.
Mac: You’d grow my hair longer?

Connan: Yeah, could you grow it?
Mac: Well, yeah… I could manage a hockey mullet. Not sure how good that’d look.

Connan: We could dye it blond. What sort of look would you give me?
Mac: Well, I’d get you in an old ripped-up pair of Levi’s, nice little crewneck sweater and pop a baseball hat on ya. You’d be lookin’ right, you know what I’m talking about? [Laughs]. Now, let’s see… Where would your ultimate place to play be? I know what mine is, but what’s yours?

Connan: Last night we played at a place called St Gallen in Switzerland and it was the most beautiful old movie theatre. I was really impressed.
Mac: Wait, was it called Palace? I think I know it.

Connan: Yeah that’s it. Have you played there?
Mac: Yeah we played there with White Fence the first time we went over to Europe. Our tour was going really great, lots of people were coming out and I figured ‘Oh this is gonna be the best night of the tour.’ We got there and there were like thirteen or fourteen people that came out to that show. It was in this giant theatre and it was just so strange. How was your show?

Connan: It was one of the more quiet ones and we played for way too long but I really enjoyed it. The place was beautiful. I wish they had venues like that all over.
Mac: Are you still painting? What are you working on?

Connan: No. Not at the moment. I haven’t had time for that.
Mac: Have you ever heard of the guy Pricasso? Instead of Picasso. When you get a chance look him up.

Connan: [Laughs]. No, I haven’t heard of him.
Mac: Look if you guys have internet in the van. He wears a pink hat, cowboy boots and nothing else. He grabs his balls and the shaft of his penis very violently and he paints with his penis. Actually he’s not bad considering! I’m not much of a painter, but as far as my money is concerned I’m going for Pricasso.

Connan: Does he do large scale paintings or what?
Mac: Yeah they’re pretty large. Not too much room for detail with that glob of flesh throwing the paint around.

“I remember talking to Ariel Pink in Berlin about his nightliner tour bus, he had a giant rapper-style one. You gotta get a giant, P Diddy huge bus with bunks and stuff.”

Mac DeMarco from HERO 11. Photography by Michael Avedon

Connan: Do you make your own music videos?
Mac: Some of them I’ve had my hand in. The ones that are sketchy looking or strange are normally by my bass player Pierce. I make the ones that are strange that are on my Facebook page or YouTube channel. The fancy ones, where it looks like it’s on film or whatever are usually through some kid hitting me up through the internet and I’m like, ‘Hey, what up, whatever let’s do this.’

Connan: I find making videos can be quite stressful. I don’t like having anything to do with them.
Mac: I saw your video for I’m The Man, That Will Find You. You’re looking very sultry in the mansion. Nice.

Connan: Yeah actually that one was quite relaxing to do.
Mac: You were in a hot tub for a little bit, right?

Connan: Yeah, but it was leaking so I had to…
Mac: It was leaking? [Laughs].

Connan: …Get some smoke in there to draw attention away from it. Wobbled a couple of light reflectors underneath too. I’m really interested in movies.
Mac: That’s why I’ve been getting into the YMO guys. They all score movies and make very strange soundtrack music. At that point you probably get tired of making pop albums and just wanna make something like that. Which is great.

Connan: I like soundtracks, I like trying to cross the two in a way. You make records really quickly actually, I’m really impressed. This is your third solo album, isn’t it?
Mac: I was able to do the first album then the second one in the span of like six months. I probably would’ve been able to keep up that pace if it hadn’t been for touring.

 

Connan: Do you write when you’re on tour?
Mac: No, I never write. I can’t do it.

Connan: I’m really struggling, I’m not hearing anything – I usually hear things in my head and that’s how I write, but nothing’s coming. It’s actually quite scary.
Mac: Yeah, I get too occupied with the drinky-winky, know what I mean? I can’t imagine ditching right after a show and going back to my hotel room, trying to demo with a laptop or whatever. That would be so strange. That doesn’t appeal to me. A lot of the time we don’t stay in hotels unless we’re in Europe or somewhere else. In the US, we’re still just staying at kids’ houses after the show, finding the ones that aren’t gonna murder you or dose you or something, so… you gotta do that. You gotta live it up with the fans, live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, you know what I’m saying?

Connan: We’re on our first nightliner tour bus. We play the show and then drive after the show.
Mac: I remember talking to Ariel Pink in Berlin about his nightliner tour bus, he had a giant rapper-style one. You gotta get a giant, P Diddy huge bus with bunks and stuff.

Connan: Our bus now has twelve bunks, but all on one floor, we don’t have a double deck. We have a lounge at the front and one at the back. You don’t get to party as you gotta leave at midnight, you don’t get to hang out with other people. Waking up in a new city is crazy.
Mac: I guess you have to pick your battles. You either wanna get wasted in the night or actually see where you’re going. A lot of cities we’ve played I don’t remember being in. [Laughs].

Connan: I won’t get too specific, but what about recording?
Mac: I can’t imagine sitting in a studio playing a line, trying to fix the lyric in front of some fucking technician watching the clock being like, ‘OK take as long as you want,’ cos it’s like $500 an hour. That’s insane. I figure if I can just continue doing this on my own, eventually I’ll be proficient enough to start my own studio, start making coin. Fuck ‘em.

Connan: Well I have equipment now that I’d love to bring over to New York and you’d be welcome to use as well, that you could record a band with if you wanted to.
Mac: Speak of the devil, I got quite the stack here too, if you ever wanna. I got 1/2 inch sixteen track we’re talking Space Echoes, we’re talking Yamaha E1005s, we’re talking compressors, Fender Vibro Champs ba-by, drums, we got fucking SM7s, Michael Jackson, we got fucking LinnDrum, what’s up.

Connan: You’ve got much better stuff. I want some of that.
Mac: Well we’ll combine. We’ll make the best album on Earth!