KID MAC – Mac’s Surf & Turf

SITTING POOLSIDE IN BALI ON HIS BIRTHDAY, KID MAC BREAKS DOWN HOW HIS MIXED HERITAGE AND OUTSIDE VIEWS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A BLESSING THROUGH HIS MUSIC.

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KID MAC interviewed @ 11:30 AEST – Friday 15th June, 2012
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press

Words by RIP NICHOLSON

[Full Q & A below]

For Macario ‘Kid Mac’ De Souza life has taken him on journeys stretching far and abroad, all the while growing up between the surf and turf of Sydney’s beachside suburb of Maroubra. Coupled with his father being Brazilian, MC, De Souza felt lost in cultural knots that have kept him from being roped solely into the Aussie way of life. He aptly titled his debut album, No Man’s Land where his external perspective of his Australia has taken shape.

“When I was growing up, I always found myself caught in the middle of two elements,” De Souza begins. “I also felt caught in between certain subcultures where half of my friends were hardcore surfers and the other half were the opposite. I never wanted to be a hardcore surfer nor did I want to be a street thug. I just took bits and pieces of each culture that I felt suited me and ran with that. I did the same thing with my Brazilian heritage and being born and raised Aussie. I eventually worked out that being in no man’s land or being not quite this or that, can be a blessing if that is where you are most comfortable.

“Musically, I also never felt a part of the Aussie hip hop scene and I am definitely not your typical muso. I am somewhere in the middle in no man’s land. I never took part in rap battles or kicked it in a home studio full of MCs ready to drop 16 bars after a hit of a blunt. Instead I surfed all day with my boys and in my spare time wrote songs bagging my mates and rapping about shit that we did on a surf trip up the coast. All of the above played a big role in the making of the No Man’s Land record.”

No Man’s Land dropped in May and was four years in the making for De Souza – work that he described as a journey through discovering his place in this land as well as encompassing his time abroad, meeting his childhood idols and having them mentor his career along the way. “I took my time and chipped away at [my debut album] for over four years and along the way, the journey I had was an amazing one with a lot of ups and a lot of downs as well. So it was important for me to translate this same journey into the record and I was lucky enough to meet some of my heroes.”

“I never took part in rap battles or kicked it in a home studio full of MCs ready to drop 16 bars after a hit of a blunt. Instead I surfed all day with my boys and in my spare time wrote sons bagging my mates and rapping about shit that we did on a surf trip up the coast.”

De Souza toured the US last year with Mickey Avalon who features in his first single ‘She Goes Off’ and had the privilege to chop it up with his heroes Warren G and Snoop Dogg, and chilled with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ frontman Anthony Kiedis at his Malibu residence discussing surf, music and MMA. And when Wu-Tang’s Abbott RZA toured down under, De Souza spent a week in a recording studio with the producer, punishing him for advice on life and longevity in this music industry. “Although they were great experiences, it was the more humble moments of my life with my family, nieces, nephews, girlfriend, friends and just by myself that added most value to this record.”

2012’s MusicOz Awards’ Artist of the Year winner, De Souza also co-directed the Bra Boys documentary about his brotherhood in Sydney’s surf culture made famous during the Cronulla race riots of 2005. Much like the ethos of his Bra Boys, he too feels that it is important for his music and Australian hip hop to incorporate a multicultural binding. “Guys like Hau [Koolism] touch on racial topics which I have a lot of respect for. We need more of these voices and I want to put my hand up as one of them.” De Souza states.

“Our Bra Boys family is very multicultural, as is my immediate family and a lot of my friends. So it is only natural for me to want to convey this message with pride.”

While the journey through No Man’s Land has been for one of this country’s newest and freshest MCs to find his place, the Sydneysider has always held one place close. “Maroubra Beach,” he declares. “Whether it be in the ocean, on the sand, in the alleys, in the cafes etc. This is the place that raised me. All my teenage milestones occurred around here! So to me, it is more home than anywhere in the world.”

[Q & A Interview with KID MAC]

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Q+A with KID MAC

For Macario ‘Kid Mac’ De Souza life has taken him on journeys stretching far and abroad, all the while growing up between the surf and turf of Sydney’s beachside suburb of Maroubra. Coupled with his father being Brazilian, MC, De Souza felt lost in cultural knots that have kept him from being roped solely into the Aussie way of life. He aptly titled his debut album, No Man’s Land where his external perspective of his Australia has taken shape.

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RIP: So the story so far tells us about your heritage from Brazil and growing up a Bra Boy Sydney-sider. I was born overseas and never felt a part of Australian culture growing up here. Is this the basis of No Man’s Land? Where you’re coming at your art with an outside perspective to our Aussie culture?

MAC: It is part of it but there is more to it than just the cultural side. No Man’s Land is a term I first heard my Dad use as he described how he felt being caught between two cultures (ie Brazil and Australia) when I was a kid. And I thought of it as a negative thing for years but after years of travelling, meeting new people, personal experiences, I eventually worked out that being in no man’s land, or being not quite this or that, can be a blessing if that is where you are most comfortable. When I was growing up, I always found myself caught in the middle of two elements. Whether it was between my two elder sisters who were super close, and my parents. I spent a lot of time by myself as a kid in my bedroom and this became the breeding crowd for my creativity. First it was drawing, then it was playing the guitar, writing songs, learning to make beats to trying to make films.

I also felt I was caught in between certain subcultures where half of my friends were hardcore surfers and the other half were the opposite (eg graffiti, skateboarding, petty crime etc). I never wanted to be a hardcore surfer nor did I want to be a street thug like some other guys I grew up with. I loved the ocean and surfing and liked messing about on the streets as well so I just took bits and pieces of each culture that I felt suited me and ran with that. I did the same thing with my Brazilian heritage and being born and raised Aussie.

Musically, I also never felt apart of the Aussie hip hop scene and I am definitely not your typical muso, I am somewhere in the middle in no man’s land. I don’t claim I “recorded my record on a 4-track in a haunted 1870’s loft in Surry Hills because the acoustics were amazing man!” or I never took part in rap battles or kicked it in a home studio full of MC’s ready to drop 16 bars after a hit of a blunt. Instead I surfed all day with my boys and in my spare time wrote songs bagging my mates and rapping about shit that we did on a surf trip up the coast.

I love my music and I love being creative full stop. All of the above played a big role in the making of the No Man’s Land record. I don’t care if I don’t fit into a typical pigeon hole, this is my own little world that I am most comfortable and happy. And isn’t our main goal happiness? It is for me.

You did say that No Man’s Land is a journey for all of us to take. During the making of this album you toured with Mickey Avalon across the US, met Snoop and Warren G, your early influences. Did all that impact on your journey making this album?

Yeah definitely. I took my time with my debut record and chipped away at it for over 4 years and along the way, the journey I had was an amazing one with a lot of ups and a lot of downs as well. So it was important for me to translate this same journey into the record. I was lucky enough to meet some of my heroes during the making of the album and took bits and pieces from each of them.

Snoop Dogg and Warren G were my idols when I was a young punk who thought he lived in south central LA. To have been able to not just meet those guys in person, but spend some time with them and see how they go about their business was such a surreal experience. And I was stoked that they were down to earth and humble dudes.

I’ve been touring with Mickey Avalon as his support here in Australia for over 4 years. He and his team were the first people in a higher position to give me an opportunity and I am grateful for it. My live shows were evolving over the years and I wanted to introduce a more live element to it so started bringing a drummer and bass player on the road with me. Mickey was impressed by how much I had brushed up my live shows in 2011 that he invited me over to support him on his US tour. That tour was amazing. The Americans responded really well to my Aussie brashness on stage and the tour was an all round success and opened my eyes to what is possible.

On that same trip, I also got to meet one of my other musical idols, Anthony Kiedis. Spent the afternoon at his place in Malibu with some friends and spoke about everything from music to MMA to films to surfing. Very surreal!

I also had an opportunity to spend a few days with RZA (Wu Tang) at Studio 301 in Sydney for a project we were working on thanks to mutual friend Russell Crowe. The session was Russell’s concept that involved the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League team. I watched RZA like a hawk and asked him a million questions about how he goes about his music productions. Pretty sure I punished him! But I learnt a lot that week with him in the studio and took a few things out of it for myself.

Fuck, I’m dropping names like a roll call teacher here! But in all seriousness, although they were great experiences, it was the more humble moments of my life with my family, nieces, nephews, girlfriend, friends and just by myself that added most value to this record.

You teamed with Twice As Nice for No Man’s Land. These guys have predominantly made beats for NZ artists. Was there a fleeting worry that your beats may not resonate with Australians?

Not at all. Nick and Lewis (Twice As Nice) are so diverse in their art and amazingly talented that they were very conscious of making sure the music they produced was true to my culture and Australia. They were the ones that pushed me to explore more of my singing, and to keep taking the more live sounding path because it rang true to my beach culture. They have worked with a lot of hip hop acts in NZ, Australia and US and they know I am not one of those guys. I have my own thing going on and I loved that they saw that and we pushed that angle together. For example, just for a laugh they would email me the most gangster beat possible to me saying “here you go Mac, this one is definitely for you bro”. They’ve worked with a lot of Pop artists as well and they are great and changing their sound up when they need to. This is probably the reason why they now have a publishing deal with EMI and were flown over to LA to live to work with some of America’s biggest acts.

The outcome with Twice As Nice proves the chemistry was good. Was it a case of ‘what ain’t broke, don’t fix’ so there was no need to seek anyone else to add beats to the LP?

Pretty much. I was producing the album myself up until a few years ago when we first got together. So when they came on board, there were 3 brains working together for a mutual goal – a record that we could all be proud of. We would butt heads a lot on some ideas and directions but always came up with a solution. It also became a comfort thing where I only wanted to go into the studio with them. And because it was coming together and working, I didn’t want to disrupt the momentum we had building. There was hardly any money in it for them from my end unfortunately but they believed in the project and me so much that it almost became a passion project for them. But things got hard towards the end of the production because the boys signed to EMI and were crazy busy back and forth to the US. One of the last tracks I wrote for the record “Don’t Look Back” featuring Sarah McLeod was produced by myself with the help of Sydney Producer/Engineer Antonio Hannah. For album no. 2, Twice As Nice and I have already started talking about trying to experiment with other producers and writers to see what comes of it, but I reckon we will end up doing it again together.

I think the most important aspect to take away from the Bra Boys film was the multiculturalism that sustains their way of life. In the wake of the 2005 race riots, you and Sunny pointed out that these guys were the peacemakers and not the provokers. Our local hip hop culture can sometimes be overbearing, Occa and very white Aussie way-of-life. Is it important in your music to make sure that it too incorporates multicultural brush strokes to the overall art?

Yes 100%. I only know a few guys in the hip hop scene in Australia who’s heritage is outside of Australia. Guys like Hau touch on racial topics which I have a lot of respect for. We need more of these voices and I want to put my hand up as one of them. Not to say “Hey racism is bad, can’t we just get along” but to speak out about our experiences so that the youth of this country can either relate and not feel alienated or they can be educated about it. Track no. 7 “No Man’s Land” from the record is all about feeling like an outcast but then finding comfort in being different and leading by example so others will follow our lead. Our Bra Boys family is very multicultural, as is my immediate family and a lot of my friends. So it is only natural for me to want to convey this message with pride.

When you put pen to paper do you visualise the scenery of your words and what you’re trying to convey with your music, like directing a story? do you dance the two creatives together?

Yes my brain works in a weird way that when I write songs, I am visualising the film for this soundtrack in my head. And vice versa, when I work on scenes in a film, I am writing the soundtrack to it in my head. People say you can’t or shouldn’t mix both. You can. And I do. And expressing myself in these creative forms gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Some artists purposely distance their real lives from their music, as a way of not getting too emotionally involved. Several tracks on the album are quite introspective. How close do you keep to your lyrics and how much emotion rides in your music?

This is one of those traits I did take from hip hop because I loved it. Personal story telling. Guys like Notorious BIG were the best at it. All the guys in Australia have been doing it for years. I am a big believer of making shit personal because people will feel that its coming from an honest place and therefore believe in what you are saying. I got pretty personal on this record but I didn’t get too literal. I say enough for you to understand I’m going through some deep shit or I am showing you my humorous side. I have been telling myself that I want to dive even deeper on album no. 2 and get even more personal and literal. We’ll see what happens on the next few writing sessions!

I loved on ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ when you rapped out Ezekiel 25:17 – Pulp Fiction style. From anyone else those lyrics would come off somewhat clichéd, but it’s obviously very relevant to your community in Maroubra. Do you still feel like an outsider when you’re surfing on home sand?

Cheers bra. It is a very personal song to me and my community. The times that I feel like I belong the most is on the couch with my entire family and girlfriend or at Maroubra Beach whether it be in the ocean, on the sand, in the alleys, in the cafes. This is the place that raised me. All my teenage milestones occurred around here! So to me, it is more home than anywhere in the world.

You look like you have so much fun on-stage performing. Where do you find your element, on-stage or in the studio creating, or by yourself writing?

I would have to say on stage. I like to go mad on stage and have an absolute ball and when the crowd is vibing back, there is no better feeling. This is another reason why I like taking the live band on the road with me because my drummer and bass player are close mates anyway so to be able to share that element with your mates is also something special. I want to build this to the point I am playing to sold out venues around Australia week in week out as this is what gives me joy. And as tough as it is most of the times, the chase out ways it everytime.

But in saying that, I love that infancy stage of a song and being creative in the studio. That feeling of knowing you have a good song in your hands is amazing and I like to celebrate with a stupid dance!

You recently toured the East Coast with Mickey Avalon, returning the favour. How was the reception from everyone and when will you do the rounds again? I missed you last time, I was out of the country.

Like I said, I have been opening for Mickey Avalon every year in Australia since 2009. The first 2 years were pretty shitty for me, just another support act who I’m sure the crowd couldn’t wait to finish my set to see the headline. But I think people started to take notice in 2011 because the crowd response was great and they were slowly starting to sing my songs. I think the turning point was “She Goes Off” the single off my record featuring Mickey Avalon. Everyone seems to be loving that track and as a result, this year’s tour with Mickey Avalon around Australia was great for me. You could see there were a lot of Kid Mac fans in amongst Mickey’s fans and a big portion of them all singing along which was sick! I think over the years, I have built a similar fan base to Mickey because of the tours. I don’t want to keep being his support act so maybe there is one more Aussie tour in it for me but as far as the US or countries outside of Australia, I am keen to do more shows with him for sure. We have been talking about a bunch of tours for later this year and next year in US, Hawaii, Bali and Europe. Let’s see how it pans out.

Well, album wrapped. Now, you’re here in Bali enjoying the time off. What’s next for Kid Mac when he returns to this foreign land he calls home?

Yeah mate, in Bali at the moment. Just got in from a fun surf and now sitting poolside on the laptop answering these questions. It’s my birthday today so I’ve got my girlfriend and my mates constantly sending me Bintangs and telling me to hurry up so we can take this birthday to another level!

Everytime I have downtime like this, my brain actually works in overload, unfortunately thinking about the next move. I get home just before my national No Man’s Land headline tour kicks off at The Standard in Sydney 29th June then around the country for 5 weeks. I’m looking forward to finally having a record to tour now and see how the punters receive it.

After that, planning more tours both here in Aus and overseas to keep trying to get my name out there more and more. I’ll also start writing some new material over the next few months and eventually team back up with Twice As Nice in LA to work on a second album. But until then, it’s more birthday drinks for me mate! Going to enjoy it!km_logo_1000_134_1000

Thanks for your questions man, it’s one of the more thought out and interesting interviews I have done in a long time. Looks like you really understand what I am about and trying to achieve and I appreciate that brother!

Thanks for your time on this man, much appreciated, much love and thanks for the music homie!

Hope you can make it out to one of the shows on the No Man’s Land Tour! Take care bra…Mac.

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