Music: Paul Mac - creativity & composing

April 18, 2016

He's part of the team who remixed one of George Michael's most recent hits.  He travels the world creating musical breakthroughs and collaborating with music industry heavyweights from Daniel Johns to Jonny Seymour.  He's Australian musician Paul Mac and he kindly took time from his hectic schedule to chat with our Editor-in-Chief, Christina Morrison, about music, life, work
and more. (below: photo of Paul Mac by Tony Mott Photography.)

CM:"Paul, you were classically trained at the Sydney Conservatorium. How important do you think formal education my be for musicians?" 
PM:"It can be a help and a hindrance, but ultimately it helps you make a living. My music partners have all been formally untrained. Andy Rantzen (Itch-E & Scratch-E), Jonny Seymour (Stereogamous) and Daniel Johns (The Dissociatives) have a million idiosyncratic ideas that spring from another world, but with my training I can then tap into them and make them a reality. Ultimately it means you can have a broader palette of things to do. Need a string quartet for that thing?…Sure! Why don’t we add a choir here?…..Sure, I’ll arrange it and rehearse it and make it happen. Being formally trained makes you totally more employable, but having said that, I get so bored by the 'correct' way of doing things, it’s nice to have a partner in crime that is oblivious to the rules, because it makes my job way more fun." (below: Paul Mac & Jonny Seymour of Stereogamous remixed George Michael's hit song, "White Light," with a gorgeous video starring George & Kate Moss).

CM:"What are you working on musically at the moment?"
PM:"A nice salad of projects which is the way I like to live. Everything feeds off each other like some weird musical ecosystem and you don’t get bored. I’m currently putting the final touches onto my solo album and organising videos plus writing, recording and performing with Stereogamous (featuring Shaun J.Wright) in Berlin for a gig at the legendary Panorama Bar,
(http://berghain.de/event/1025) which is the equivalent of being invited to play at Jesus’s Bar Mitvah! I'm also composing a feature film score, a concept album for Bangarra Dance Theatre and also writing and producing an album with Ngaiire.
That’s enough; if I list any more here, I’ll freak out at the work load!" (below: Australia's Bangarra Dance Theatre)

 CM:"You've had so many highlights in your career; which would you say has been the most satisfying project for you so far?"
PM:"It’s pretty hard to go past The Dissociatives. If you are lucky enough, once in your entire career a project will come along that is the blissful, effortless combination of energy that results in this thing of super beauty. The Dissociatives was definitely that for me. Thanks Daniel!"
CM:"What would be your advice for someone just starting out in the music industry?"
PM:"Do as many things with as many people as possible at the same time. Be a total music 'sl*t.' You will learn heaps more, get more excited, and have heaps more fun. Get out of your fucking bedroom and off the internet for a while. Nothing beats the feeling of like-minded, enthusiastic people in a room with a vision.
Also, be patient! If you are any good, someone will notice
at some point."
CM:"How do you get inspiration? Do you have a process you experience or plan when you write music?"
PM:"It’s random. Sometimes I hear stuff in the real world that triggers off something in my brain. For example, I was recently travelling in Italy and the ambulance sirens over there are comprised of just two notes (a major 6th), in this really quite soothing pattern. It hypnotises me. So I sat down at the piano and wrote a song about it. Then, I used it as a study, so I did a techno version for Stereogamous, and I have a feeling it will make it’s way into the film score. All different, but all inspired by
the same source."
CM:"How important is music for young people today?  That is, do you think the place of music in people's lives has changed since you first started out?"
PM:"I have absolutely no idea. I know my music appeals to 'music lovers' but so does Metallica’s music. It’s all subjective, but people who feel music, are people who do actually feel emotions in a really strong way generally, I think. People connect with me via social media and also walk up to me on the street and tell me how my music has sound-tracked some really important events in their lives. These include marriage, breakups, getting sober (don’t quite understand that link) and I know I have definitely stopped one youth suicide. No pressure or anything!"
CM:"How is performing in Australia different from other locations? Within Australia, what are your favourite cities to perform in and why?  In what ways are Australian crowds different from other nationalities?"
PM: "If you're performing IN Australia and you're FROM Australia, more people know you, so, it’s always going to be a warmer response. I love playing in Perth because they're always like 'THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING OVER. NOBODY F&CKING COMES HERE!' and so on." (below: Stunning, sunny Perth, Australia).

CM:"You've collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry and you've received awards at the ARIAS and from other organisations. Who've been your favourite artists to collaborate with and why?"
PM: "Anyone that’s into a given project for honesty and music and not as some kinda 'co-branding exercise.' Megan Washington is definitely one of those people."

CM:"Please describe yourself in five words."

PM:"Is this some kinda Haiku?"

CM:"What would be your 'Top 5 Desert Island Records'?”

PM:  "I don’t have favourites. Seriously, once I have heard an album enough times I’m done. I’m always searching for that track that will blow my mind next."(below: Paul Mac and Daniel Johns join live in concert as The Dissociatives)

 

Find more at: http://www.paulmac.com.au/about.htm

 

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