Mac DeMarco — who originally hails from Edmonton, has rocked out regularly in Vancouver, and currently resides in Montreal — creates music based largely for comic value. His latest record, Rock and Roll Nightclub, is a 1950s-style blend of Chris Isaak and Elvis Presley, only creepier. With a sound that could easily be scored to “a homo-erotic, S&M porno (or maybe the next Ryan Gosling movie,)” Mac backs his brand by categorizing his work under the self-proclaimed genre jizz jazz, which he invented because “it sounds slimy and funny, and hints at the fact that music shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
Having learned the guitar in Grade 9 with the goal of rousing the girlies, DeMarco finally kicked off his musical career under the moniker Makeout Videotape at the age of 17. Staying true to jizz jazz and everything that it stands for, his earlier work stems from a bit of a spoof: “Makeout Videotape was some joke name I put on a MySpace page with two or three songs. I never really thought it would turn into a band playing shows in Vancouver all the time. But the name is weird — especially when you’re trying to tell your family about how you support yourself — and I’ve wanted to change it for a long time.”
At last, Mac had the opportunity to swap the moniker Makeout Video for his birth name following the production of Rock and Roll Nightclub, but don’t be fooled, it isn’t because his latest album is any more serious or less sordid than his earlier work. In fact, the album is the result of an accident gone right: “I was trying to record really fast songs — power pop or Ramones-y sounding, I guess. They sounded like crap so I slowed them way down and sang like Elvis instead. So it was sort of a fluke. At first it was only four songs up on my Bandcamp, then Mike from Captured Tracks showed some interest so I flushed it out and made it into more of an album. I’m pretty sure I won’t be making a faux-Elvis album for a while. It’s also sort of funny that it’s taken off way more than anything I did before.”
Despite the creepy crooner dude that people peg him as, Mac is really just a mellow homebody who only ventures out to buy smokes or use free WiFi. When he’s not busy screwing around with music (from the comfort of his digs), he really is quite the average Joe. “I sleep in really late, smoke a lot, watch movies, drink beers, and relax,” he says. “It’s pretty nice since making a bit of coin off music; I used to have to work all the time, now I can just drink soda pop and let my ass get fat on the sofa.”
He’ll be off his sofa at the end of August, however, rolling around the West Coast and the States before finishing up his tour in New York at the end of October, right in time for the release of Mac DeMarco 2. And contrary to his relaxed and insouciant ways, the boy has ambition, hoping to get an EP out after Christmas. Unable to predict what Mac might come out with next, I can’t help but lust for something of the customarily slimy, jizz jazz variety.
Mac DeMarco releases 2 on October 16. He performs at the Rickshaw Theatre with Japandroids on December 22.
By Stephanie Nazywalskyj