Published Aug 06, 2015The most interesting thing about Mac DeMarco's new mini-album, Another One (out August 7 on Captured Tracks) isn't its small-scale size or how soon it comes after his mainstream breakthrough, last year's Salad Days, but the way it ends. In the last few seconds of instrumental album closer "My House By the Water," he lists out his current address (6802 Bayfield Ave., Arverne, New York) and invites the listener to "stop on by" and have a cup of coffee.
When asked by Exclaim! six weeks before release (and four weeks before it leaked online and kids started showing up at his house in droves) if he regrets the decision, he half admits it may have been a bad idea. "Every day now I ask myself the same question, and it's not even out yet," he laughs. "I just thought it would be funny."
Of course, even DeMarco's more fair-weather fans probably wouldn't be surprised. Since his arrival on the music scene in 2012 with his solo debut Rock and Roll Night Club, he's been described as and called many silly things: a pepperoni playboy, a Canadian jizz-jazz prince; a prankster; a lo-fi goofball and many more colourful names. His public persona is far from serious, which makes listening to Another One a strange experience, because the album is clearly his most sincere and intimate work to date.
Recorded entirely at his new home — a seaside shanty of sorts across the bay from New York's JFK Airport, up the street from some Jehovah's Witnesses, and in what DeMarco describes as one of the most affordable neighbourhoods to live in around New York City — Another One is a true product of the atmosphere in which it was made.
"Instead of having to play all the instruments on the same chair in the exact same spot, now I can play my guitar in one corner, walk to the other corner, like five feet, so it's a bit more space. It's pretty nice," he says about his current studio setup and the one where he recorded the album. "Most people would still be like, 'What the fuck?,' but yeah, it's great. Big bedroom. Master bedroom of the house, ooh, it's nice."
Clearly, it's the simple pleasures that excite DeMarco these days. Although he's spent the better part of a year playing shows to more people than he ever has in his life, it appears that not much has changed for the musician. He still lives with roommates (fellow Captured Tracks signee Juan Wauters being one of them) and shops at Value Village ("even though I'm making a lot more money than I thought I'd ever be making, I still can't go buy new clothes — I don't know how to do it"). His increasing popularity has allowed him a few more comforts (random strangers stopping by his house aside) and it shows in the relaxed sounds of his new album and how he approaches his life.
"I'm not afraid to go buy groceries now, which is a weird and interesting feeling," he says. "I haven't changed the way I live since I lived in Montreal or Vancouver, and I think it's handy too, because now I see my bank account increasing and increasing and it's like, 'Well, maybe I could buy a house?' Because that's the dream. No more paying rent? Fuck that shit! Know what I'm saying? Trying to keep it as cheap as possible."
Of course, with that popularity comes more questions about his personal life, and when asked if the lyrical content of Another One — an album rife with lovelorn lullabies ("No Other Heart," "I've Been Waiting for Her") and romantic regrets ("The Way You'd Love Her") — reflects the ups and downs of being in a relationship, or holding onto one, while on the road, he rebuffs the question.
"I was going through a couple things while I was writing this, but nothing extremely serious or anything. But I just wanted to write some pop songs," he says. "With Salad Days… I was very open about what happened to me. These songs are the same, in a way; they have the same weight to me, but I'm not about to run out and say this is about this, this is about that. It's about me, or it's about you, maybe. Anybody can take it and do whatever they want with it."
And if you imagine a tender piano man at his house by the water, waiting to meet a new friend and have a cup of coffee while listening to it, all the better.