Mac DeMarco On ‘This Old Dog’, Reoccurring Dreams And Coming To Australia
Even though Mac DeMarco’s new record This Old Dog leaked and he practically begged everyone to download it, we are very excited for its official release this week (May 5!). It’s a new sound for old Mac — lighter in its loafers than anything on Salad Days, more synthy and less guitary but still pretty jizzy jazzy. We phoned him up to see where this new direction came from, and also (obviously) to ask him when he’s coming to Australia.
With the new record we get a pretty new sound from you. It has lost the sort of darkness that comes with the psychedelic sounds of your previous releases. Has something happened to you?
I’d like to feel like it’s some natural progression from what I was doing before. There’s different instrumentation, and the barrier that I usually put up when I’m writing wasn’t there this time. That’s the main difference. As far as things in my personal life, yeah, some stuff with my family has gone down. But I think I’ve had a lot more time to think about different things and different aspects of my life, after not touring as much this year. It’s partially that. It is what it is.
You’d demoed the album while you were living in Queens, and sat with it until you moved to LA, right?
I didn’t demo the whole thing. I’d had a bunch of songs that I’d written in New York, 12 or 16 songs I guess. I wasn’t thinking I was going to put this on a record, I was just writing songs. And then I wound up in LA this year and had those songs. I probably wrote half the album here. But those little demos weren’t necessarily for anything, it’s kinda my hobby making music, so…
So what’s your job then?
My job? I don’t know. I guess this is my job but it’s one of the strangest and silliest jobs anyone can have.
Do you think the sun affected the sound?
I don’t think so. I don’t think New York really affected it, but I’m sure it did in some way, but I think it’s a mystery to me. I did everything in my bedroom there and in my bedroom here. Maybe on the next record it’ll come out a little bit more, but I wouldn’t say it’s a very sunshiny record compared to the stuff I’ve done before.
And and in terms of lyrics, does this record go somewhere new for you?
In some ways yes. Some things are expanding on what I’ve talked about before and somethings are new. A lot of it is me kind of thinking about the kind of things I don’t have time to think about when we’re touring. It’s reflection but also they’re pop songs so anybody can take them and do whatever they want with them. Enjoy them or hate them in anyway they want.
Who were you pulling influence from in terms of sound palette?
I was listening to a lot of James Taylor and Paul Simon when I first started writing some of the songs in New York. By the time I moved here I was listening to more video game music from when I was a kid, and a lot of Japanese instrumental synthesiser music. The record still kind of sounds like one of my records, but its the first step into something else.
The video game sound is pretty prevalent in the tracks I’ve heard…
Yeah, when I first started playing in bands I was a young adult, and I didn’t really tell anyone I was into video games when I was young because it was nerdy. But at this point in my life I could not give a fuck. I couldn’t care less what people think of me. A lot of the music heard before I was 13 or 14, listening to The Beatles and all that, was all weird soundtracks and scores and things that I was processing and paying attention to without being conscious of it. There’s music everywhere.
You describe your sound as ‘jizz jazz’, still true?
Yeah I think it always will be. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s just to confuse people. If you really want to know what music sounds like, the best way to figure it out is to listen to it.
Yeah, I liked in your press material when you said that you’re Italian so you guess this is an Italian rock record…
Yeah exactly. I’m 25% Italian, but I’m Canadian. My hair doesn’t really hold any water. But it’s funny to say.
And maybe leaves room for you to do a disco record next…
That’d be cool.
The record is called This Old Dog, do you have a dog or are you the dog?
Yeah I was referring to myself in that. But it’s funny that you ask that now because there is a dog, my neighbours dog, right here now.
Who’s your best friend now that you live in LA?
I think my girlfriend’s my best friend. She’s usually wherever I am. Friendship is hard when you travel this much.
Now that you’re in LA is acting in your future? You were pretty good in Kirin J. Callinan’s mockumentary…
I don’t think so, I was so savagely drunk when I did that. You can probably tell. Holy moly.
What did you last dream about?
Shit. What did I last dream about? I don’t know, but I can tell you a dream I have that reoccurs all the time. I always have this dream where I’m back in high school and final test season is coming up. I’m ready to finish this last year of high school, but then I realise that I haven’t been to my history class. At all. I just didn’t go at all. The test is coming up and I’m like ‘Fuck!’. I have that dream so often. Then I realise I haven’t been in high school in ten years. It’s weird. It’s always the same class.
When’s the last time you pat yourself on the back?
I don’t know.
You just made a record!
Yeah but the end of that, the mastering and stuff, is just a pain in the ass. So I’m usually like ‘Thank go that’s over’. So maybe that’s the closest I got to patting myself on the back. The thing is, you get all the material together and you’ve finished it, but it’s still not over for another five months. You just live with it for so long. I should be thankful for that five month period, because I don’t have to deal with it and I can come back fresh again.
And, I guess what everyone wants to know… When are you coming to Australia?
I don’t think we’ve announced anything, but, let me put it this way: I’m pretty sure we’re going to be all over the place next summer. Something that we may or may not have done before. But I can’t really say.