McBriare Samuel Lanyon "Mac" DeMarco (born Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV, April 30, 1990) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. DeMarco has released six full-length studio albums, his debut Rock and Roll Night Club (2012), 2 (2012), Salad Days (2014), Another One (2015), This Old Dog (2017), and Here Comes the Cowboy (2019). His style of music has been described as "blue wave" and "slacker rock", or, by DeMarco himself, "jizz jazz".
Life and career
1990–2008: Early life and education
DeMarco was born in Duncan, British Columbia, and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. For junior high, he went to McKernan School. Around this time he started playing guitar, with lessons from his grandmother. During high school he was in several bands, including indie rock band the Meat Cleavers, alternative R&B group the Sound of Love and post-punk band Outdoor Miners (along with current keyboardist, Alec Meen), which was named after a song by English rock band Wire. His great-grandfather is Vernor Smith, Alberta's former Minister of Railways and Telephones, for whom DeMarco was named, and his grandfather (also named Vernor Smith) was a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. His mother later changed his name to McBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco. He started smoking cigarettes as a teenager, which has now become a big part of his image. DeMarco is also of Italian descent.
After graduating from Strathcona High School in Edmonton in 2008, he became a backing musician. After that, he moved to Vancouver.
2009–2012: Early projects and first solo album
Living in the Killarney neighbourhood, he released a self-produced album, Heat Wave, as a part of the indie rock project Makeout Videotape in 2009. The album sold out its 500-unit run. DeMarco worked on "psychedelic" video projects during this time. He was joined by Alex Calder and Jen Clement, signed to Unfamiliar Records, and toured with Vancouver band Japandroids in 2009. In 2011, DeMarco moved from Vancouver to Montreal to begin recording as a solo artist. Failing to find work as a musician, he participated in medical experiments for money and worked on a road paving crew. On January 9, 2012, record label Captured Tracks announced the signing of DeMarco. In early 2012, he released an LP titled Rock and Roll Night Club. The four-track-recorded album features skits and slowed-down vocals.
2013–2015: 2 and Salad Days
Rock and Roll Night Club impressed his new label enough that they agreed to release a full-length follow-up album. This release, entitled 2, was received well by critics, garnering a "Best New Music" designation from Pitchfork. One of his songs, "Moving Like Mike", was licensed by U.S. retail outlet Target for a commercial.
On January 21, 2014, DeMarco announced the release of his upcoming second album, Salad Days, along with debuting the lead single "Passing Out Pieces", The record was released on April 1, 2014, and again received the "Best New Music" designation from Pitchfork. It was a shortlisted nominee for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize.
DeMarco made his first talk show appearance (and second TV appearance after The Eric Andre Show) when he performed the song "Let Her Go" on Conan on March 30, 2015. On April 22, 2015, DeMarco announced the release of an upcoming album titled Another One, which was released on August 7, 2015, in addition to a video depicting the making of Another One. DeMarco describes the album to be a collection of love songs, "It's just kind of like every angle of how somebody might feel if they're having strange feelings in their chest." On May 11, 2015, Captured Tracks released the first single of Another One, titled "The Way You'd Love Her". Another One received a generally favourable response from music critics, scoring 75/100 on Metacritic. Still in Rock has ranked this LP as the third best of 2015.
On July 8, 2015, DeMarco released a 9-track instrumental album titled Some Other Ones and called it a "BBQ soundtrack". Later that evening, he hosted a listening party in New York City (where DeMarco was based) for fans to hear Another One, where they could get free hot dogs if they donated to a food bank.
2017–2018: This Old Dog
On January 31, 2017, DeMarco announced his third studio album, titled This Old Dog. He also released two singles from the album on the same day. This Old Dog was released on May 5, 2017.
On October 10, 2017, DeMarco appeared on Charlie Rose, in which the two discussed the new album, as well as DeMarco's relationship with his father. Acting as bookends to the interview, DeMarco performed acoustic versions of This Old Dog, as well as Still Together.
On April 8, 2018, DeMarco appeared on FishCenter Live and had an interview with Max Simonet. He partnered with the non-profit organization Plus1 for his tours that year, and one dollar for every ticket purchase went to the Girls Rock Camp Alliance to: "[empower] girls, trans and gender-diverse young people through music education and mentorship."
2019–present: Here Comes the Cowboy
On March 5, 2019, DeMarco announced his fourth studio album, Here Comes the Cowboy and shared the first single off the album, "Nobody". The album was released on May 10, 2019 on Mac's Record Label [sic]. A controversy emerged once it was pointed out online that DeMarco's album shared a similar title to the 2018 album Be the Cowboy by Mitski and that her album had also included a single called "Nobody". According to Pitchfork, DeMarco had "never listened to Mitski's album and learned about her album and song title only after determining his own album title and single". Mitski responded to the controversy on Twitter, stating, "I'm 100% sure mac & I just went fishing in the same part of the collective unconscious!". The album received mixed reviews from critics and audiences upon release. It marked his first top ten appearance in the US Billboard 200 at number 10.
DeMarco's style employs the use of flat drums (little or no reverberation or dynamic range compression), chorus and vibrato effects on the guitar and a generally lazy atmosphere a la soft rock records, muted and low frequency bass guitars. He has mentioned Shuggie Otis, Black Sabbath, Jonathan Richman, Genesis, Sting and Weezer as favourite artists. He has also cited Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono as his favourite artist. DeMarco's music has been generally termed as Indie rock, psychedelic rock, jangle pop, and lo-fi. His guitar-based compositions have moved from glam-inspired works to what reviewers describe as "off-kilter pop" or "folk rock". DeMarco has self identified his style as "jizz jazz", going as far as naming his apartment studio Jizz Jazz Studios, as mentioned in a documentary starring himself, Pepperoni Playboy. DeMarco has pointed to artists such as John Maus, Ariel Pink, Isao Tomita and R. Stevie Moore as influences on his reel-to-reel production style.
DeMarco uses vintage equipment and gear for his music. He mainly played on a $30 Teisco electric guitar that was already in poor condition, and stopped playing it live since it would often break apart. He additionally uses Fender guitars, such as a 1970s Stratocaster, a 1960s Mustang, a 1990s Squier Stratocaster and an HSS Shawbucker Stratocaster, of which his live band were given 11 copies as a result of an endorsement deal with Fender. His bass guitar mainly used for recording is a Teisco/Stagg bass.
He uses vintage Japanese synthesizers, including a Yamaha DX7 and a Korg Microsampler. Additional models include a Rhodes piano, a Moog Realistic MG-1, a Prophet 5, a Roland Juno 60, JX-3P, and a Yamaha DX100. Amplifiers used include a 1970s Fender Twin Reverb, a Roland JC-120, and both a small Fender Vibro-Champ and a large Roland KC-550; DeMarco uses them during stage performances by hooking his keyboards with the vibro-champ amplifier which was linked to the KC-550. Effect pedals used are a MXR Micro-Amp, a Boss CE-3 Chorus, a Boss VB-2 Vibrato, TU-3 tuner, an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb and an EHX Polyphonic Octave Generator.
DeMarco records his music on reel-to-reel tape recorders, such as a Fostex A-8, a Tascam 338, an Alesis Micro Limiter and a Roland Space Echo RE-201. However, he recorded his album This Old Dog on a MacBook with an Apogee Quartet interface. He uses a Neumann U87 condenser mic, a Royer R-121 ribbon mic, and a four channel Neve Portico preamp strip with his Ableton setup. DeMarco also uses a Roland CR-78 drum machine to record demos.
From around 2012 DeMarco resided in Brooklyn, New York. In late 2016 he moved with his girlfriend, Kiera McNally, to the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles, where he has resided since and regularly host jam sessions with musicians and friends such as Thundercat, Anderson .Paak and the late Mac Miller.
Backing band members
- Joe McMurray – drums, occasional live vocals
- Andrew Charles White – guitar, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
- Jon Lent – bass guitar , keyboards, percussion
- Alec Meen – keyboards, backing vocals, percussion
- Peter Sagar (Homeshake) – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Pierce McGarry – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Rory McCarthy – bass guitar
- Rock and Roll Night Club (2012)
- 2 (2012)
- Salad Days (2014)
- Another One (2015)
- This Old Dog (2017)
- Here Comes the Cowboy (2019)
- 2 Demos (2012)
- Salad Days Demos (2014)
- Some Other Ones (2015)
- Another (Demo) One (2016)
- Old Dog Demos (2018)
With Makeout Videotape
- Ying Yang (2010)
Extended plays (EPs)
- Heat Wave (2009)
- Eating Like A Kid (2010)
- Bossa Yeye (2010)
- Weird Meats EP (2010)
- Eyeballing (2010)