Kid Mac Shows Us The 'Good Life'
TCI caught up with Macario De Souza, AKA Kid Mac, to chat about his new single ‘Good Life’ and it’s cinematic, self-directed, music video.
Debut album No Man’s Land (2012), and it’s impressive follow up Head Noise (2013), saw Kid Mac build a solid following and tour with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan and Mickey Avalon. However the last few years have seen De Souza spending most of his time behind the camera, best known for directing Bra Boys and Fighting Fear. So while Kid Mac fans have faced a long wait to wrap their ears around new music, that wait is finally over, and this release comes with the added bonus of a stunning music video. ‘Good Life’, co-written with Billy Fox, also marks the announcement of a third full length release scheduled for early 2021.
The Creative Issue: Musically ‘Good Life’ is a bit of a journey. You’ve always written music that blurs genre boundaries. What is your approach to songwriting? What do you think makes a Kid Mac song a Kid Mac song?
Macario De Souza: Most of the time I start with the beat or a few chords on the guitar to convey a feeling or tone. If I know I’m going to write an upbeat song, I’ll work with a major chord progression. If it’s a more emotive song, I like to work off minor chords. I’ll then live with the musical bed for a few days and then start to write some top-lines for the hook, followed by lyrics to fill it. If I have a strong chorus, the verses usually flow easier from that. This time around, I worked with Billy Fox who produced the track and co-wrote the song with me. He was great because he would push me to keep re-writing to get better results which was challenging at first but in the end, I enjoyed the process and outcome. I think what makes a Kid Mac song a Kid Mac song is blending genres, catchy melodies and drums, or a percussive groove that makes you bop.
TCI: Can you tell us about the story behind ‘Good Life’?
MD: ‘Good Life’ is drawn from personal experience from my years of chasing my goals obsessively like a reckless steam train rolling anything in the way. Usually when I have some downtime, which is hardly ever, my mind plays tricks on me as to what direction I’m headed in life. So I always have this internal battle inside my head of what’s ‘good’ for me vs what’s ‘bad’ for me. I occasionally look back on what I’ve achieved and sometimes and more saddened by the simple things in life I’ve missed because of those wins. So I’m constantly trying to find that balance to keep both the good wolf and bad wolf inside me to play nicely.
TCI: ‘Good Life’ was co-written with Billy Fox. How did this creative partnership come about?
MD: Billy Fox is a long-time friend and collaborator. We did a bunch of shows together over the years and I always admired his incredible musical ability. I reached out to him a few years ago about getting in the studio together and the first few sessions went really well. He is a natural leader with a calm nature which made me feel very comfortable and trusted him to produce the whole album with me. He became a mentor to me over the years as I was going through some personal challenges which often left me unmotivated. But he’d kick me up the arse and get me stoked on creating. I would have a whole bunch of unfinished songs if it wasn’t for Chris.
TCI: You worked with Chris Collins and George Georgiadis for this new track. What was your vision for the sound of the song? Who are some of the artists that inspire you most right now?
MD: The vision was to blend live instrumentation with clear vocals cutting through like you would normally hear in a hip hop mixed record. I wanted this song to feel eerie, cinematic and like a journey. Chris Collins really brought that to life in the mix and George Georgiadis elevated it to another level on the mastering. I would have to say Jerome Farah is one of the most talented musicians going round. I’ve never met or worked with him but have been closely following his journey and am a big fan of his musical output, both as a producer and an artist. He’s incredibly inspiring. There are a bunch of other artists that inspired me along the way while I was making new music. Guys like Dominic Fike, Milky Chance, Bakar, Sampa The Great and Blessed to name a few.
TCI: It’s no secret that you’ve spent a lot of time behind the camera. In that career, aside from making films and documentaries, you’ve spent time working with the likes of Poo Bear, Twenty One Pilots, Baker Boy, Sampa the Great, Tasman Keith and Dune Rats. How has that experience influenced your work as Kid Mac?
MD: I had the pleasure of collaborating with the most talented artists in the world on their visuals and documentary projects. This allowed me to absorb their creative process along the way, and cherry pick traits I liked and try to take on board myself. For example, making the Poo Bear documentary in LA, I was able to see Poo work on project with artists like Partynextdoor, Justin Bieber, CL & J Balvin. The speed in which Poo works, how he finds the top-line instantly and writes lyrics within a few minutes blew me away. There was no time wasting, he’d pump out five-six songs a day and didn’t over think it. That was a key lesson for me. There is always that feeling that artists go through of “am I good enough? How do I compare to other artists?” It’s a terrible way of thinking but naturally we all do it. By working with so many artists across several projects, I was able to put that questioning to rest because I realised their process is no different to me and we all face the same creative roadblocks. This helped me stay in a focused mindset and shift the attention on my work and not what everyone else was doing.
TCI: The music video for ‘Good Life’ was self-directed. You’ve mentioned that you often write music and visual ideas simultaneously. What are some of the fun bits, and some of the difficulties, that come with visualising and self-directing your own music video?
MD: The fun part is knowing exactly what I want and I don’t have to spend several days writing a director’s treatment to try and sell it to myself or my team. The most tedious part of being a filmmaker is trying to sell your idea to others who may or may not understand your vision. Creating my own visuals for my music means I get to my desired outcome quicker and easier. The difficult part finding the time to squeeze your own music video project in amongst the million other projects going on. And being a harsh critic with your own performance on camera. Proper head fuck!
TCI: This year has been a little different to say the least. What have you got planned for 2021?
MD: This has been the most challenging year of my life but there was a silver lining. I had always told my manager, I wish I could freeze the world so I could actually finish a bunch of music I had started a while ago. Guess you have to be careful what you wish for because next thing, Covid hits. Like a lot of people, my business was hit hard and my family was exposed as a result. But I chose to focus on what I could control which included finishing new music amongst other things. 2020 gave me an opportunity to take stock of everything and everyone around me and made me realise I really do need to strip things back. 2021 will be all about executing the above plan of simplifying things and focusing my energy on things and people that reciprocate good energy. Music is a big part of that. There’ll be more singles released and an album dropping too. I’m keen to get back into live shows and have my four-year-old daughter experience that with her dad. My feature film 6 Festivals will also go into production. It’s a scripted coming-of-age drama set in the world of music festivals. It’s been a long time coming so I’m stoked to see it finally come to life next year.