Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Friday, September 13, 2019

In Advance of His Upcoming Agora Show, Singer-Songwriter Mac DeMarco Talks About His Old School Approach

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 11:30 AM

  • Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR
Mac DeMarco, who brings his stripped-down songs to the Agora on Thursday, Sept. 26, is one of the few millennials and musicians without an Instagram account.

“I don’t need that shit in my life. It’s not cool; people believing their self-worth is quantified by a heart symbol. It’s just fucked up,” says the 29-year-old in a recent phone interview. “I’m really disconnected with what’s going on, and it’s really hard for people to hit me up, but I don’t give a shit.”

DeMarco is old school when it comes to his craft as well. The British Columbia native writes all of his songs in his L.A. home and records his demos in his garage. DeMarco’s newest full-length, Here Comes the Cowboy, is full of intimate, acoustic indie ballads with some quirky percussion mixed in here and there.

“I’m not trying to chop the hell out of something on a computer,” says DeMarco, “But it doesn’t matter what people do to their music as long as it still feels human or has some connection to the person that’s making it.”

DeMarco is saddened by the lack of humanity in a lot of today’s hottest tracks.

“Even a really crazy, super cyber, insane top 40-song can still be cool if it has some kind of overreach of emotion,’ says DeMarco. “But I think when everything is super auto-tuned and the artists aren’t even writing their own music…maybe the human part gets lost in it.”

Making people feel something is DeMarco’s main goal, and he has a variety of ways of reaching that point. His latest album, Here Comes the Cowboy, features lyrical confessionals and social commentary but also snippets of jam sessions to round things out.

“Choo Choo,” a song with a catchy Motown groove, is one track that DeMarco didn’t take too seriously.

“I was already in the process of recording the final stuff for the record. I was doing it for a while. So, there’s days where I’d be like ‘I don’t feel like doing this today,’ and I’d record some funky little sounds. So that came straight out of that and my girlfriend came into the garage and was like, ‘That sounds like a Choo Choo train.’ And I was like ‘Okay.' It’s definitely less of a song and more of a little patchwork.”

DeMarco’s favorite track, musically, on the album is “Little Dogs March.”

“It’s very slow, very strange. For some reason, I was able to play things I don’t usually play. The percussion is like me rubbing my pant leg. Stranger is better for me.”

DeMarco spread his wings and explored his lyrical abilities on Here Comes the Cowboy as well, pulling inspiration from all of his usual places. The oldest of his demos that made the final cut, “All Of Our Yesterdays,” includes a Shakespeare reference.

“A lot of really common idioms come from really far back in literary history, so it’s always interesting when you find one [and think,] ‘What? I say this every day, and it was in a play like way back,’” says DeMarco.

The track is the most raw and honest on the record, and by default, the most melancholy. It’s an ode to the days you can’t get back and the ones still to come, laid over a simple bluesy acoustic.

“I was in the garage late one night, just recording. I had a mic up and an acoustic guitar, and I just kind of went for it,” says DeMarco. “I think it’s common ground, as far as my songwriting goes — kinda lonely.”

Even though he writes and produces all of his records single-handedly, DeMarco doesn’t consider himself a particularly talented guy; he’s just in the game for the hell of it.

“I’m not very good with words, and I’m not even a very good musician either, but I like the idea of making something that is your collectable property that you can share with someone,” he says.

He’s also in it for the community that comes along with being a touring musician with a bit of a following behind you.

“The initial wave of meeting people that you think are cool and them treating you like you’re cool all of a sudden — it’ll drive you fucking crazy. But I’ve wanted to do this for so long, and now, I’m finally doing it. It’s really trippy,” says DeMarco. “Playing these shows to people, and everyone’s having a good time — that’s kind of like my church. Then, I’d go to a different city and everyone was doing the same thing and it was even bigger and the bands were even weirder. I just wanted to be a part of that. It’s different now; I have my community.”

Mac DeMarco, 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26, Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $38.99 - $53.99,

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation