The Case of Mac DeMarco

by Stephanie Holstein ’18

MACDEMARCOTo the less sentimental listener, Mac DeMarco may be considered old news. However, those who stick around to see where DeMarco will take his weird and wonderful musical career find that he is a Canadian national treasure. Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Macbriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco moved to Vancouver after high school and formed the band Makeout Videotape with his friend Alex Calder (their album Ying Yang is very special and can be found in full on YouTube). DeMarco’s solo career took off in 2012 when his first EP, Rock and Roll Night Club, captured the attention of Pitchfork Media and Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Since then, he has created two more full-length albums, 2 and Salad Days.

DeMarco once told Georgie Magazine, “I like people to be confused, first and foremost,” and in that respect he certainly succeeds. In his four short years of full-blown fame, he has been named the king of “dad rock” and has created his very own genre, “slacker wave”—two seemingly incompatible qualities that he manages to pull off so well. It’s not just the fact that his unaffected cool oozes off of his worn and torn baseball caps and oversized flannel shirts, but his musical aesthetic has also given our ears something new to feast on—a radical combination of music akin to Steely Dan and the lazy 20-something punk bands of our time like FIDLAR. He’s easy-listening for those who want something simple, yet weird enough that you have to turn your brain on a little to understand the genius that lies underneath the well-mixed layers of guitar and bass and drums.

One of the most intimate ways you can get to know DeMarco (aside from going to one of his shows, which I have heard are LEGENDARY) is by watching a little 30-minute documentary about him, titled Pepperoni Playboy. Backed by Pitchfork Magazine, this documentary escapes the typical musician-doc genre—it’s not an hour and a half of concert footage that you have to pay eight dollars to see in movie theaters but is rather an unimposing (and free) way to catch a glimpse of who DeMarco is as a musician and human being. While that sounds heavy, it’s really just made up of shaky video clips DeMarco and his band took on their 2014 tour in China, one-on-one conversations with the man himself, and hazy shots of an Australian adventure, all tied together by the sweet, sweet music of DeMarco’s newest album, Salad Days.

While DeMarco is typically praised for creating a new sound, he has also given us a new, more positive version of “cool” to emulate. While it’s been said that the frontman is pretty wild in concert—he’s been known to climb on the ceiling beams of venues and take some or all of his clothes off—his unassuming attitude toward his ever-growing fan base, his laid-back, yet confident approach to music, and his ability to laugh at himself show us that there’s more to the mainstream definition of cool than money and fame. In an age with so many artists producing music and so many media outlets promoting or demoting musicians, it is nice to find an artist who counters mainstream pop culture. The ultra-strange Mac DeMarco you see is the Mac DeMarco you get, guaranteed.

Here’s a little more DeMarco:

“My Kind of Woman”

This is the first song I heard of DeMarco’s, and my favorite. The high-pitched, twangy guitar and DeMarco’s deep voice serve as a nice contrast, challenging conventional instrumental/vocal compatibility and creating a classic, yet somehow original, song about a girl.


Off of the album 2, DeMarco included two other versions of the same song in a collection of demos—Dreamin’ Fast and Dreamin’ Slow. They’re virtually the same, but each highlights something a little different each time.

“She’s Really All I Need”

While this song is perfect in its own right, the music video is such a shining star in green screen technology that I couldn’t not include it.

“Pepperoni Playboy”


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