Only one year ago, the name Mac DeMarco was maybe more likely to evoke an image of an Italian lover in a cheesy romance novel as it was to bring to mind the goofy, lo-fi indie rocker whose profile is quickly rising.
There’s a chance you would have known him first as Makeout Videotape, the moniker he adopted after moving to Vancouver from Edmonton in 2008 and under which he self-released a bunch of cassettes, probably played in your friend’s basement, and toured with Japandroids.
DeMarco has since moved to Montreal (but not before picking up some west coast, yacht-rock vibes), dropped the Makeout alias, and released the Rock and Roll Night Club EP. The album was a Mac mutation of sorts: there was sleazy, Elvis-meets-Chris-Isaak crooning, super catchy, echo-y guitar hooks, breezy love ditties, and sardonic radio DJ promos throughout. A mere six months later, he’s released his fantastic full-length follow-up, 2. Although many of the sonic qualities of early recordings are still present, the new LP sounds more honest, intimate, and cohesive. “Rock and Roll Night Club, to me, was a weird sort of concept album,” DeMarco says via email on a European tour, “where 2 is more of a return to the way I used to write and record songs.”
His newfound popularity and name recognition (Target recently licensed his song “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans” for a commercial, while indie omnipresence Pitchfork gave 2 the Best New Music tag) is just another example of how quickly indie musicians can go from “playing in tiny music scenes where the entire audience is made up completely of your friends” to sold-out shows in Toronto and touring Europe.
There’s no doubt that part of the success has come from the notoriety of his live shows, where he’s just as liable to strip completely naked, make-out with his girlfriend mid-set, or squirm and gyrate (along with his entire backing band, three guys he’s known for years) on stage.
Despite these antics, or more likely because of them—there’s something instantly charming about DeMarco. It’ the goofy grin showing off his spaced-out front teeth, the dirty old baseball cap that seems to be permanently plopped on his head, the way all of his performances feel like you’ve been personally invited to his weird after-hours party.
Or maybe it’s because, really, he’s just a kid making good music.
“My mom loves what I’m doing, she posts about everything that I do on Facebook more than anyone else,” he says. “I’m sure some of my antics have freaked her, and the entire family out, but I’m pretty sure they know I’m still a good kid.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of AUX Magazine. Download and subscribe for free in the App Store.