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Mac DeMarco: Expect a lucky dip performance that might include magic tricks, yodelling and comedy skits

The goofy, unpredictable Canadian singer-songwriter has shaken up the serious-minded Indie rock scene

Mac DeMarco plays Iveagh Gardens on July 14th. Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Mac DeMarco plays Iveagh Gardens on July 14th. Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


You could say that some guys have all the luck. Just take a peek at Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco. He began his steady rise in McKernan junior high school, Edmonton, learning how to play the guitar to impress the girls. He has continued from then to now as a self-confessed goofy, somewhat unpredictable musician who relaxes so much he might just as well be an audience member who mistakenly makes it to the stage to sing a handful of songs. DeMarco’s degree of emotive songs and comedic pieces, however, has provided something of a jolt to the indie rock scene, which has a tendency to take itself so seriously that even smiles during gigs are frowned upon.

Despite his Italian name, he was born Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV, great-grandson of Alberta’s Minister of Railways and Telephones, and grandson of a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. When he was five-years-old, his mother changed his name to McBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco (after her Italian heritage). As early as he can remember, family and friends started calling him “Mac”.

[Mac DeMarco plays the Iveagh Gardens on Sunday, July 14th. Book tickets now]

DeMarco’s early days as a musician weren’t easy. After graduation, he hung around Edmonton, mixing band work with employment in a road construction crew. While the heavy labour was mind-numbing (and loud), it provided a way for the budding songwriter to save enough money to move to the big city and bright lights of Vancouver.

Significant change

Life there was a significant change for him. “In Edmonton, I’d talk about bands I liked and nobody knew what I was on about, but in Vancouver, people knew more than me,” he has said. Making ends meet with various jobs (Starbucks, teaching basic computer literacy), he began to record music. In 2009, he self-released a seven-track CD-R titled Makeout Videotape, and alongside a move to Montreal, started his career in earnest.

Within three years, DeMarco released his debut album, Rock and Roll Night Club. Spiked with his specific sense of humour (“it’s probably safe to assume that at least 80 per cent of . . . Night Club is laced with a meta-joke that nobody is in on except DeMarco,” observed Pitchfork), the album nevertheless was received well enough to allow a follow-up (titled, simply, 2) to be released.

From here on in, DeMarco would no longer have to survive on anything other than the proceeds of his music. Within two years after one of his songs (Moving Like Mike) was licensed for an advert for US retail giant Target, DeMarco had released his third album, Salad Days, which was shortlisted for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize. From there to here, it has been a sequence of profile-raising years.

To date, such success has been capped off with Here Comes the Cowboy, which was released in May. For his Iveagh Gardens show, expect a wealth of tunes from across his albums as well as a lucky dip performance that might include (if you’re very good) magic tricks, yodelling and comedy skits.

Mac DeMarco plays Iveagh Gardens on Sunday, July 14th. Special guests to be confirmed. Book tickets now