Hi DMac, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been well, all things considered. The world is heavy right now. I’ve been trying to stay informed and engaged with current events, while also working hard on a bunch of new music.
Out of all the songs out there, why did you choose to cover James Blake’s “Retrograde”?
I connected with “Retrograde” a few years back when I was in a pretty lonely and tumultuous period of my life. I learned to play the song then and it became a bit of a comfort song for me. I play some other covers live from time to time, but it never felt right to record one. This song just felt right and I immediately had an idea as to how I could do it differently with a new beat and vibe. When quarantine started some of the lyrics of the song began resonating with me again so I thought it would be as good a time as any to put it out there.
What was the approach? Did you intend to go with this song?
My approach with this song was to use some key elements of the original, but speed it all up and make a kind of dancehall beat behind it. I used some similar drum and synth sounds, but changed the pattern to be more upbeat. I also came up with some new parts to fit the feel of my version. Then I just sang it how I would live.
How was the recording and writing process?
The process was pretty seamless. I programmed a version of the beat and then put down some synth and bass parts over it. Then I recorded my vocals over that in my home studio. At that point I had two of my close friends and collaborators, Seth Nicholson and Colleen Cadogan, lay down some backing vocals to beef it up. After that, I sent the track to my right hand man, Rocky Russo, who is an amazing bass player, mixing engineer, and all around mad scientist. He played some extra bass parts and, along with Seth, solidified the drum programming so the tune would bump how I envisioned it. Rocky also did the final mix/master and then it was done.
How did you go on balancing the original with your own take?
I love the original. I really respect the stripped down simplicity of it. I wasn’t trying to make a soundalike cover. I just think of mine as a whole new interpretation so I can’t even really compare it.
What role does the Bronx play in your music?
I lived in the Northwest Bronx for most of my life so I think it plays a pretty big role in my music even if I don’t totally notice it. I was exposed to a lot of different types of music and culture from a young age and that’s partly what made me want to start playing music. I love hearing different rhythms and styles coming from car windows in the summertime. That has always inspired me to create something that someone might want to bump with the windows down.
Does the cover mean we can expect new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes. I have a bunch of new material coming out very soon. There will be a couple of original singles, followed by an EP. It’s all coming along great. We’re just putting the finishing touches on it.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
The EP will come out at the end of October. I think it’s going to be self titled, DMac Burns. It’s my first release as a solo artist and it represents many years of hard work that have led me to this point. It’s the most honest representation of how I want my music to sound so I think I gotta stick with that simple title.
Any plans to hit the road?
If it’s safe to play concerts, I will play them. Right now it doesn’t seem like that will be the case anytime soon. But, when live music returns, and I know it will at some point, I’ll be on the road for sure.
What else is happening next in DMac Burns’ world?
Right now my main focus is finishing the EP and trying to spend as much time in nature as I can while the weather is nice. That being said, I’m always writing new material. I’ve been working on some original songs for a short film that my girlfriend is writing, directing, and starring in. I’ve also been working on some songs for another film that my friends are making. I’d like to get into doing music for television and film so I’m taking every opportunity I get.