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Upfront: Mr. Carmack

We catch up with one of our favourite (and most frequent) touring artists

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Australia and Mr Carmack have the kind of loving relationship that most people could only dream of. He visits us every single year, and we greet him with a bit of TLC: enthusiastic, crazy crowds, and a lot of flies. He returns the love with his sets which have the perfect balance of trap and house, and just enough bass drops to leave you feeling satisfied, but not used. In between writing music and touring the world, the LA-based producer is set for Australia ~again~ this January – further confirming my suspicions that we may have the greatest love story of all time.

ACCLAIM: So you recently finished a mini tour of California, how was it?

MR. CARMACK: Yeah it was great. I did San Francisco, San Diego, LA and Orange County. The shows were all really good.

A: I remember earlier this year, you posted screenshots from messages you received from Djemba Djemba about playing sets for unappreciative crowds. You mentioned that you think it’s important to keep reinventing your sounds, but do you feel like those crowds inhibit you creatively? Not just when writing, but also when preparing DJ sets?

MC: No – I don’t see playing to certain uninterested crowds or disengaged crowds as being any less than still being a crowd. It’s still people in front of you, and they’re still paying. My emotional reaction to whatever that is going on is irrelevant because I’m still there being paid to provide music. So as far as inhibiting my creativity, I don’t think it does, or maybe it does? But I just don’t put my emotional reaction to how crowds react to music as a factor in whether or not I do shit.

A: I feel like the internet also affects originality a lot, because music is so easily shared nowadays, it seems like artists have collectively explored most of the grounds that music has to offer. Do you agree? Or do you think there’s more the world can offer in terms of true originality?

MC: I think true originality is perpetual. It’s always rolling along. True originality is not like this award or trophy you get if you do something weird. It’s with you if you have it, and it’s still rolling along somewhere, you just gotta go find it. It takes time to reach that point, and understand true originality… I think we all can find it.

A: Sometimes I just wonder if there’s any artist that’s going to bring something really new to the scene.

MC: Yeah – when’s the last time you’ve been truly excited by a show? Can you tell me the last artist you were really blown away by or excited about? Or at least made you think about something?

A: Yeah I guess there’s a bunch of factors, not just the sound. Even the way it’s played to you. Sometimes artists can have the same sound, but they can give you a show that makes you see it in a completely different way.

MC: True. So you know the song that you’ve heard on your phone or in your car and then you watch it live and it’s completely different. Very true.

A: Your identity was born out of SoundCloud and Bandcamp, as millions of other struggling artists are trying to achieve the same feat, do you think that the internet and technology has made it harder or easier on aspiring artists to follow their dreams and be recognised?

MC: Both – it’s made it easier in a sense that anybody can come up ten grand, five grand… that’s a lot of money. I don’t think it’s that hard to do anymore, like move along a couple thousand dollars at a time, that’s like thirty t-shirts. And then it’s really hard too, in that the saturation is really real. It’s harder to be seen, it’s harder to be picked out of the mass of people. I think the key to really jumping out of that idea of saturation is longevity. I think that’s the number one thing that allows artists to develop themselves more, is if they constantly do it. If you continue to put out consistently then your name will be known over a longer period of time. Because there’s a shit ton of people that have just joined in the last one or two years, but then I’ve been writing music for about 10 or 11 years. I have friends that I started with that are people that I wanna put on, and people that have taught me a lot. And I know their success and I know their failures and I know what they can and can not do. So longevity is a huge factor in becoming separate from the mass of people that are just starting, or don’t have any friends in the same realm, or don’t really have the foundation. So it’s good and bad, it’s easy and it’s hard. It’s really what you make of it. Because if it’s truly something that you really enjoy and obsess over, then waiting 10 years or waiting 30 years shouldn’t be that big of a deal for you. As you get older and as you work harder, you see further down the road.

A: It makes you a lot more appreciative of what you’ve achieved as well.

MC: Yeah, you see further behind you, and you get a chance to see further down the road. I could make a project come out in two years because I can put money aside to wait until that time to do it. That’s only because I’ve had the opportunity to write and put out music every day.

A: Your music background started from a really young age, right? Like two years old?

MC: Well both of my parents are musicians, and my mum is a dancer actually. They both have always kept music around me, had musical friends. They would bring certain people that they knew over to the house, and they would all jam or play music.

A: What kind of music did they play?

MC: Like Latin music, Hawaiian music, old jazz standards. Things like that. My dad loved opera, he was trained in opera, so there was a lot of classical stuff too. So, it was a really eclectic home.

A: Does that time influence the way you make music now?

MC: Yes, of course. I owe my entire everything that I have to that. Honestly, if you talk to a lot of artists that have either made it or have done something in music, chances are they’ll tell you their family was in music too. Or one of their parents was in music. Or they had a fat record collection or something. Yeah, I owe everything to that.

A: You’re going to be back in Australia next month, this is your third year in a row out here, right? A lot of artists tell me that Australia has the craziest crowds.

MC: Yeah, well you guys are fucking crazy, so that shouldn’t be surprising to you.

A: Do you think our crowds interpret and engage with music differently compared to other countries?

MC: I think so, yeah you guys have your own way of speaking about music, you guys have your own way of enjoying music. You certainly have a very energised creative and cultural centre. Everyone I meet in Australia has a very unique soul… There’s a lot of culture out there, and I meet a lot of nice people.

A: With 2016 coming to a close, what have been your highlights for the year?

MC: I played Coachella, I played to 17,000 people there. That’s my biggest crowd. Lollapalooza. My parent’s house flooded. That was fucked up. I played in Asia for the first time, I did a 12 country tour of Asia. I played Holy Ship, that was weird. I was on a fucking EDM ship for three days, that was crazy. Yeah, there was a lot of shit that happened this year.

A: Yeah it’s kind of hard to remember it when you get to the end of the year, and you try to think back on the year and you’re like “shit what did I even do this year?”

MC: Yeah, I like to just go through the pictures. That’s one thing about having a phone is that you can just scroll through the pictures and remember every fucking day of your life.

A: What are you hoping to achieve next year?

MC: I want to work more with live instrumentation. I wanna learn more about the technical side of production. I don’t know shit about microphones, and mic placement and acoustics in the room, and recording consoles. Even though I don’t do the technology and I don’t really need to know about that, I still like to engage myself in that kind of stuff, and learn about amps and compressors. I been touring for like four years now, so it’s time I took some extended time to learn. I’ll still be doing a lot of shows after Laneway. I really wanna put out an album so I’m working really hard towards that. I just created a bigger show to kind of be a precursor to what I wanna do with more music, and just combine having a big show with more music. The four day tour I just did was the first time I did a whole tour that was 100% my music. I was playing trap stuff, my house stuff, chill stuff, kind of how Kaytranada does it. But it’s just 100% my own. So I’d like to take that elsewhere and create a storyline. So there’s a lot of shit to do.

Mr. Carmack will be performing at Laneway Festival 2017, January 21-February 5, as well as sideshows in Melbourne (January 25) and Sydney (January 27).

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