Mac DeMarco vs. Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur

Celebrating Five Years of Captured Tracks

Jan 13, 2014 Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIM
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The Brooklyn-based indie label Captured Tracks was founded in 2008 by Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs. Beginning with releases from Sniper's band and the first ever EP from Dum Dum Girls, the label's growth occurred organically. Sniper would only release music from brand new acts, keen to nurture growth instead of poaching proven talent from established labels. This paid dividends for the label when he signed the likes of Beach Fossils from an unsolicited demo, discovered Wild Nothing on the basis of a rudimentary Myspace personal music page, and Mac DeMarco off of inchoate demos from his former band, Makeout Videotape.

All three of these crown jewel acts played the label's fifth anniversary bash back in August at The Well in Brooklyn, NY. It was a festive, familial party, a celebration of just how far the label had come since its early days of releasing obscure tapes and EPs to its now lofty level of pre-eminence within the American indie scene.

Backstage at the event, Under the Radar caught up with Mac DeMarco and Beach Fossils' Dustin Payseur, two acts who have certainly defined the label. Both also recently released superb albumsBeach Fossils with their amalgamation of '80s jangle pop with a roughshod DIY punk ethos on this year's Clash the Truth, while DeMarco's 2012 release 2 coheres his myriad stylistic proclivities into a satisfying pop album, bringing his idiosyncratic brilliance into laser focus.

What follows is an off-the-cuff conversation in which the pair riff casually on whatever comes to mind, illustrating both their mutual respect for one another's work and each other as individuals.

John Everhart (Under the Radar): I hope you guys have questions ready for each other.

Dustin Payseur: I know everything about Mac DeMarco.

What do you want to know about Mac DeMarco that you don't already know?

Dustin: How often do you shave?

Mac DeMarco: I shave daily. I look like a fucking hillbilly if I don't shave for long, but I like a little bit of scruff. But I'm always buying fucking razors, and I went to the barber once and bought an electric, but then I lost all the parts for it. [Laughs]

Dustin: John Pena [Heavenly Beat, ex-Beach Fossils], after we were paid for a big festival show went out and bought, I can't remember if it was a three or six hundred dollar razor. And he came up to me and said, "When do we get paid next," and I was like, "Dude, we just got paid." [Laughs]

Mac: When I had my first band with the label I had the same thing. I had a thousand bucks and my guys had some money and mine lasted me a few months. With my guys it was just gone, and they were asking me when we got paid again.

Dustin: I don't know how they do it. We'll get paid for a huge festival and they'll spend all their money. I just don't know what they're doing with their portion. I'm paying them well! [Laughs]

Mac: Tell us about your dietary habits. I know that you don't eat meat.

Dustin: My dietary habits are actually super annoying. It's hard as shit on tour. Hard to find vegetable protein and soy protein.

You don't look like you eat much. You're very thin.

Dustin: Oh, I eat so much! I eat 'till I throw up in my mouth. But my dietary restrictions are annoying. I don't eat gluten and I'm a vegetarian.

Mac: So if you're a vegetarian...where's the fuckin' party?

Dustin: If I can find gluten-free pizza, that's amazing. I love bread and pasta, but if it's gluten-free, it's horrible. Same with bread. If you make a sandwich it turns to mush. It's horrible, man.

Are you living in Vancouver still, Mac?

Mac: I'm living in NYC now. Myrtle and Broadway, in Bushwick.

Everyone on Captured Tracks seems to live near the label.

Dustin: Well, there are more possibilities. It's like, "You wanna do this college show?" "Do you want to play a show together?" It just makes sense. And every week I see these people that I love and it's amazing.

How are you liking it here so far, Mac?

Mac: I live in a place about the size of a closet. It's a storefront place. What I've realized is that in Montréal, when I moved there with my girlfriend, I got a great place there for $400. Here you pay $1000 for a shithole. [Laughs]

But it seems like you have a lot of opportunities here, living so close to the label.

Dustin: Mike [Sniper]'s my fucking family. Mike's the reason I live here. He was the only person I sent my demo to who gave a shit.

Mac: I'm having an affair with him right now. A lot of labels were like, "We don't give a shit." Mike isn't like that.

Dustin: He's not trying to find what's hot. He's finding what he likes.

Mac: Labels today are like, "Well, we were big in the '90s, we had cash cows then, and we need to find cash cow number one." Mike's not like that all. He appreciates all the bands he signs, and doesn't expect them to make him rich.

Dustin: He's very business savvy, but he's not weird about it. He never compromises the music. I watched a BBC documentary about Rough Trade about how they fucked up and said why they should've done it a different way. Captured Tracks makes all the efforts Rough Trade made, but they sealed up the holes so they wouldn't fall apart. I mean, Rough Trade didn't fall apart completely, but Captured Tracks haven't made the financial mistakes that Rough Trade made.

Mac: I think he understands. He's got it down. He also knows that you as an artist don't want to get fucked over by a label.

Dustin: He gets it from having been in a band.

John Pena [Heavenly Beat, ex-Beach Fossils] walks by.

Mac: Ah, it's the three hundred dollar razor man. [Laughter] Was it a good shave?

John Pena: Yeah, just one though before it broke, and I spent so much on it that I couldn't eat for a fucking month. [Laughter]

So, I wanted to talk to you guys a bit more about your music. Dustin, I know you have a massive back catalog that you haven't released. Any plans for those songs? Clash the Truth was amazing, but I'd love to hear what else you were working on during those sessions.

Dustin: Well, I almost prefer to keep those songs private. Keep focus on the future instead of looking back. I don't have a strict idea about it, I mean, maybe I'll want to share it later. But for now I feel it's important to keep moving on.

Mac, do you remember the first time you heard Beach Fossils? How did you respond?

Mac: I don't remember exactly when I first heard them. I know it was when I was living in Vancouver a couple years back. I remember being shown that "Youth" YouTube link, with the picture of Dustin standing in a room, and thinking, "Hey, sexy man right here." [Laughter] I was definitely into those early Beach Fossils songs, they reminded me a lot of '60s surf guitar stuff, like The Ventures, probably because of the guitar sound. I had just started releasing my own bedroom style recordings at the time, so I think I was a little intimidated, but probably just jealous. [Laughs]

And Dustin, when did you first hear Mac's music?

Dustin: I'm pretty sure the first time I heard Mac was by watching the "Only You" video. It floored me. I knew I would love this man.

And now you do! You guys are sitting right across from each other flirting. [Laughs] Mac, how is your new material coming along?

Mac: I'm about halfway through working on the next record, hopefully. [Laughs] I think it's gonna sound pretty similar to the last album, a lot of guitar, a pretty simple set up, maybe a little funky here and there. We'll see what I can whip together, I guess.

All right, Dustin, you need to play in a minute. Is there anything you guys wanted to add?

Dustin: God bless the whole staff [of Captured Tracks], Katie Garcia, Mike Sniper, Sara Casella. Just everyone. John Everhart, you too. You've been a huge help.

Wow, thanks guys. Have a great show, Dustin. And great show last night, Mac. It's been a wonderful weekend.

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's November/December 2013 issue.]



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