Between the release of his excellent new album, Salad Days, enormous, magazine-style pieces from sites like Pitchfork and Wondering Sound, and videos of him interviewing other indie music stars, Mac DeMarco has begun to develop a well-defined public persona. He’s become the irreverent goofball (the word “goofball” never fails to make an appearance in his press) whose pranks and pratfalls help him to both justify and obscure the depth, soul, and hard work that he pours into his music.
Thing is, unlike many figures whose image in the popular imagination is starting to solidify, DeMarco doesn’t take issue with the way he’s been characterized. Not at all.
“I don’t think that stuff that’s out on the Internet about me is misrepresentative or anything,” he says. “It’s not like I’m pretending to be [a goof]. It’s kind of like people home in on one side of things, so it’s fine with me.”
The other side of things comes out more in DeMarco’s music, where his pensive, sweet songs are only occasionally tempered by levity. Salad Days is mostly split between downcast tracks like “Blue Boy,” and “Passing Out Pieces (sample lyrics: “passing out pieces of me, don’t you know nothing comes free”) and straightforward love songs dedicated to his girlfriend, Kiera.
On the road to Vancouver when we talk, he seems exhausted but in good humor.
“A lot of kids on the Internet, I think they hear Mac DeMarco and they assume I’m Macklemore or Mac Miller, so at first they’re confused,” he says. “But then they search me and they’re, like, ‘Who the hell is this gap-toothed trailer park person?’ “
DeMarco’s humor often becomes self-effacing like this, a trait that seems less like a manifestation of insecurity than the instinct of a guy who’s used to making those around him comfortable. (When asked what he plans to do when the current tour is finished, he jokes that he’ll “sit on my ass and wait to go back to the airport.” But it also can seem as if the comfort of others sometimes comes at his own expense. Of his growing fame, for instance, he admits it’s weird to have people recognize him in random encounters but then quickly reneges.
“It’s definitely gotten kind of weirder, like, at the grocery store. It’s, like, just trying to buy a pack of smokes. … But I kind of enjoy it, to tell you the truth.”
However he feels about his rising profile, it hasn’t stunted his desire to make music. He says now, only three months after Salad Days was released, he’s already feeling the itch to start working on what comes next.
“I’m always thinking about writing new songs,” he says. “I’d like to have another EP and another album out. I don’t want to have another year pass.”
Salad Days was made in the wake of a year and a half of constant touring, one which wore DeMarco out. Given that his schedule has only gotten busier since, one wonders whether or not he’ll start to feel that way again. He insists that’s not the case.
“I’ve found a good balance,” he says. “I’m just kind of having fun on tour right now. It makes me happy, I guess.”
Mac DeMarco performs at 4Knots Music Festival at South Street Seaport, which takes place on Sat., July 12, 1 — 8 p.m.