Lo-fi master Mac DeMarco comes to Tel Aviv

Canadian-born Indie musician prepares for Tuesday’s stop in the White City on his 2015 world tour

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Mac DeMarco. (Coley Brown/Courtesy)
Mac DeMarco. (Coley Brown/Courtesy)

Lo-fi “bedroom rock” Wunderkind Mac DeMarco will perform in Tel Aviv this week. The Canadian-born 25-year-old will play at Barby, a small music venue adjacent to the trendy Florentin neighborhood on Tuesday, June 2.

DeMarco spoke with the Times of Israel ahead of his show to discuss his grand plans for the White City, his analog predilections and garbanzo beans.

DeMarco began playing and recording music in high school, but soon after graduating he released his first album “Heat Wave” under the name Makeout Videotape in 2009. He followed it up with two albums in 2012 — “Rock and Roll Night Club” and “2” — and another in 2014, “Salad Days.” And DeMarco has a new album set to be released in August 2015.

DeMarco’s songs deal with love, cigarettes and family. They generally feature relaxed vocals, a slightly distorted twangy guitar and simple, slow drum arrangements, which give his music a dreamy, lazy-summer quality.

But DeMarco’s work ethic — four albums in three years — belies the moniker “slacker rock” that his music has received.

DeMarco was slated to perform in Israel last year. “But we ended up having to cancel,” he said. “And as soon as we canceled that show, I started getting emails from kids being like, ‘You bastard! What the hell?!'” DeMarco said, with a laugh.

“It was a bummer we couldn’t do it, but I’m glad we’re gonna come this time,” he said.

DeMarco, who grew up in western Canada but now lives in Queens, NY, has never visited Israel before and looks forward to his two-day trip.

“My manager, she used to book a band from Tel Aviv so she’s got a bunch of friends there. So think we’re gonna try and kick up some dust,” he said.

DeMarco’s also excited about Israel’s Mediterranean fare. His response to Israeli cuisine’s abundance of chick peas? An exaggerated and enthusiastic “Oh, yeah!”

Despite the new album’s summer release date, unless the band “can get one or two of the news gongs together,” the concert will be mostly feature songs from his previous album “Salad Days.”

The band, DeMarco explained, hasn’t yet been able to practice the songs from his new album, “Another One.” (DeMarco records his albums by himself, and after its complete the band he performs live with works for a few months learning how to play the new songs.)

But DeMarco is open to playing older songs too. “We’ll see what the kids want to hear,” he said.

‘There’s something satisfying about twisting a knob instead of poking a screen.’

DeMarco started making his music on analog four-track tape recorders in the mid-naughts, as digital recording tools were only just becoming available to amateurs.

“When I started doing it, Garage Band was just starting to float around,” DeMarco said, referring to the now-popular Macintosh audio recording program.

But despite the ubiquity of digital recording applications, DeMarco still prefers to record music his way — at home, on tape.

“I can’t do it with a computer,” he said. “I’ve tried the apps, but I have to do it on a tape machine. It’s the way I learned how to do it, and I’m stuck in that.”

Plus, DeMarco said, it often yields better results. “In my experience at least, more of my personality is injected into whatever ends up being made,” he explained.

It’s also more tactilely enjoyable to record on an analog rather than a digital device, DeMarco added. “There’s something satisfying about twisting a knob instead of poking a screen,” he said.

“I love the knob, baby,” he added, with a laugh.

Specifically recording at home, and not in a studio, is another central aspect of DeMarco’s creative process.

“If you make something at home and you take your time doing it and there’s nobody pushing the buttons for you and you’re not ‘on the clock,'” DeMarco explained, “I think that process brings out a much more organic and personal idea.”

Another home-recording virtuoso, Ariel Pink, will also coincidentally be performing at Barby, one week after DeMarco’s show, on June 9.

Pink, who is about 10 years older than DeMarco, is one of the most popular lo-fi indie musicians touring today. DeMarco discovered Ariel Pink’s music after he had already begun to record his own.

“I’ve loved Ariel’s music for a really long time,” he said. “And now we’re, like, on a friendly basis, it’s pretty crazy to me.”

DeMarco will continue touring throughout Europe and the US through the summer and fall, which can be tiring. “We kinda just never stop touring,” DeMarco said. “I feel like I’ve been doing it way longer than I actually have.”

But relentless touring is to be expected these days, now that album sales account for a smaller portion of a band’s revenue. “It’s the bread and butter,” he explained.

“But it’s what I do,” DeMarco explained. “It’s what I enjoy doing.”

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