Jizzy-jazz, Salad Days and explicit stage antics: Wonderland Sessions takes to the Lexington for an afternoon with Mac DeMarco
Having been termed “Blue Wave” and “Slacker Rock” by misinformed journalists, Mac DeMarco has a new genre-classification for his music – jizzy-jazz. But don’t ask him what it means because he doesn’t really know. “If they want to know what that sounds like, they can press play,” says DeMarco. He makes a fair point.
Not looking too much into reviews for fear he may go crazy, DeMarco’s heart-felt lyrics are often a representation of his own persona life, which is a stark contrast to the reputation he has gained for his infamous live performances. But whilst many a fan thinks he is renowned for performing naked, wearing make-up on stage or sticking drumsticks up his ass, sat in a back room at the Lexington, I learn that that’s not always the case. “I don’t actually do many of those things that often,” laughs DeMarco. “But people can think what they want!”
Following the release of his third album “Salad Days” we caught up with DeMarco to talk Pepperoni Playboy, explicit video footage and the fear of being mistaken for an Italian house DJ before filming an exclusive episode of Wonderland Sessions.
I know people ask you how you classify your music all the time so you’ve termed it ‘jizz-jazz’. What does that actually mean?
I don’t really know. Like for example I would say: “Steely Dan: kind of sexy, kind of jazzy”. So I came up with this dumb term for me. It’s mainly a response for journalists calling it “Blue Wave” or “Slacker Rock” and making up all these ridiculous terms trying to relate it to something! It ends up confusing people more. So when people ask me what my music sounds like I say: “Hmm, jizz-jazz”. If they want to know what that sounds like, they can press play.
So if we do hit play on Salad Days, would you say the lyrics in your songs a narrative of your life?
Yeah, of certain things that happen I guess. This album has a lot of personal songs for me, but I try to keep the lyrics vague enough that if someone else who doesn’t necessarily know anything about me listens to it, they can still enjoy it or take something from it. I guess I just write pop songs.
What sort of response have you had to it?
I don’t know. The shows have been good and the reviews have been good, but I don’t pay that much attention to what people say anymore. Of course I’ve seen the NME review and the Pitchfork review, but I haven’t been looking into it that deeply. I used to a lot, but if you do it too much it drives you completely insane. It was interesting with this album, because it leaked a month before it came out. Everyone I worked with thought it was the end of the world! But for me it was kind of cool. I got to see which songs kids liked the most or what people were connecting to before Pitchfork were like: “Like this track. This one is good”. It’s interesting to see what people actually think as opposed to what they are told to think.
So what made you decide to transition from Make Out Video Tape to solo?
It was mostly just a change of name. I mean when I was doing Make Out Video tape it was still just me recording and writing everything alone for the most part. I was kind of pretending it was a band. The members were always changing. For a while it was like an actual band, but when it came to the tours it was always like: “Shit who can come with me this time?” But when I signed with Captured Tracks record label and they wanted to switch to Mac Demarco. I had been thinking about it for a while, so it seemed like a good time. At first I thought it was weird, I sounded like an Italian house DJ. “Mac Demarco” (he says in an Italian voice). But I think it’s worked out fine.
Tell me about your Peperoni Playboy ‘Macumentary’ that came out last month, it sounds fun…
So my friend John works at Pitchfork TV and he wanted to do a making of my new album. We left it for a while as he was doing a cover shoot too and I thought the TV and the writers were talking to each other, but they weren’t. So John was like: “Yo man! What the fuck?” I was like: “Oh, I’m sorry!” So he kind of missed most of the recording process, but he got some of it. We just hung out, we took a camera on tour to Europe, Asia and Australia. They bought us that insane meal too! It was fun, I’m really happy with it.
Were there any explicit outtakes you had to keep hidden from us?
I’m sure on that little camera he gave us there is a bunch of shit he didn’t use. Maybe because it’s boring. I know we had a wild bunch of footage of my friends penis on stage, but you can’t really put that on there…
That kind of fits with your reputation for outrageous and entertaining shows! What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done?
I don’t know… There are a few things I’m infamous for, that maybe I have only done once. I stuck some drumsticks up my ass one time and people really remember that one. It’s funny though because you do something once and people start talking. People think I pull my penis out on stage all the time, or that I’m always playing naked and wearing make-up on stage. I don’t actually do many of those things that often, but people can think what they want! I crowd surf all the time and a lot of people are like: “Whoah this is crazy!”
I guess it’s because you wouldn’t initially expect that with you’re music?
Yeah the show is always so fun and high energy, but it’s not only us it’s the kids that come – we feed off of them. We get mosh pits at our shows sometimes! I’m like: “What the fuck is going on?” It’s crazy.
What about the rest of the year, what do you have in store for us?
Loads more touring in the States and Canada. I think we are back in the UK in August. Possibly some Australian and Asian stuff in the Fall, but that’s not set in stone. We’re just touring forever.
Living the dream then! Finally which emerging artists are you backing right now?
The one guy for me is Connan Mockasin. You guys probably know a shit tonne about him, but I’ve been listening to him for years and whilst he does well over here, people haven’t heard of him in the States. He had never played there until a few months ago, but now he’s touring a lot which is great. There’s also a band on Stones Throw Records called Silk Roads that I like, their album is coming out soon and it’s great. I have another friend who is in Amen Dunes too. We’re actually playing with them at all their UK dates. I love those guys.
Words: Brooke McCord
Video: Greg Barnes
Additional Footage: Treve Jackson-Hicks
Audio: Matthew Collins
Images: Roo Lewis