The dichotomy of Mac DeMarco

Tuesday 24th, May 2016 / 19:36
By Andrew Pitchko
Photo: Coley Brown

Photo: Coley Brown

VANCOUVER — Mac DeMarco has been the dream boy of indie pop for a number of years now. Though originally from Edmonton, he can safely claim hometown advantage in Vancouver, Montreal, and most recently New York. With an incredibly dedicated and internet savvy fan base he has become, by his own admission, a kind of internet meme, but you should not let that take away from his music. Now as much as ever he draws inspiration from singer songwriters of the past to weave a simple and yet distinct sound. When we woke DeMarco up just past noon he was in his New York apartment, still half asleep he was more than eager to jump right in to the interview.

DeMarco claims to have developed a small obsession with acoustic guitars as of late. Having rediscovered James Taylor, he goes on to say that sometimes artists just re-emerge in to prominence on his playlist. Though he has listened to him for years, it is only now that he has dived past the classic hits and began discovering some of the b-sides. A similar thing that must have happened with Paul Simon, another one of his all time favourites, who’s songs he has been keen on playing live.

That’s one of the things about DeMarco, he does not hesitate to pay homage. Wearing the voice of his influencers on his sleeve, he often pays tribute to one or two during a show, exposing a whole new generation to songs like “Still Crazy After All These Years” which have gotten noticeable attention from DeMarco’s fans on YouTube. In a lot of ways this is the dichotomy of DeMarco. On one hand he spews the kind of goofy banter and frolic one would expect from his reputation, but he has also developed and reflected a sincere musical appreciation for the singer-songwriters of yester-year.

Though he uses no samples on any of his recordings, he does at times borrow and, in his own words, “plays tribute” to the greats. When asked about this he reminds me of an old anecdote regarding James Taylor. When Taylor was recording a new album in London, The Beatles invited him to their studio to hang out and play. When he came he ended up playing “Something in the Way She Moves” which was one of his songs he was just recording at the time. Just after hearing it, George Harrison went home and wrote “Something,” one of the most iconic Beatles songs. When confronted, George Harrison said he loved the song so much he went home and wrote it himself.

So perhaps this musical journey of DeMarco’s is one of rediscovery and interpretation that runs along those lines. A boy sharing all his favourite stories, tunes, and jokes to the world around him only too happy to have a willing audience. His relationship with his fans, just like his musical heroes, is very close, as he routinely goes on Reddit where he has an active sub-reddit dedicated to all things Mac. He claims that the fans always have his back. He recently dropped a few never before released treats directly on to the site much to his fans delight.

When asked about his up and coming show in Vancouver, he says he is very excited about it. “That’s where the Sonic Youth played” he adds. “I can’t wait to play there myself.”

Mac DeMarco performs at the Malkin Bowl on May 27.

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