Dave Mac, or Dave Mckinley has been at the forefront and behind-the-scenes of not only the psy scene, but Cape Town’s music scene as a whole for nearly 20 years now. His DMMT project, BPM Magazine, Muse Magazine and involvement with Mutha FM are just a slight touch of what the Mac has contributed to the industry.
– The following questions were compiled on behalf of Psymedia by Evan Greenblo.
Psymedia: Hey Dave. You’ve been an active DJ since around 1996. Can you give me a brief outline of your earlier years? How did you come across psytrance?
Dave Mac: Well, it was my 50 year old ‘hippy aunt’, my mom’s twin sister actually, who got me into psy. I was curious as to why she would be going to ‘raves’ at her age. She used to hang out at LOGOS in Muizenberg as well as the early Alien Safari parties (‘94/95). Funny thing is I wasn’t into dance music at all until I discovered Goa Trance which to me was like the rock ‘n roll of dance music. Another funny story is that I actually bought my first Goa album before going to a party as well… and the person I bought it from was [Clint] Lox (who was a drum ‘n bass DJ at the time). After my first party I was hooked. As for DJing, that’s a funny story too. My [same hippy] aunt had a farewell party at the Afrogalactic Cafe (Alien Safari’s club/bar in Cape Town CBD) and she asked me to play as I had quite a collection of psy music by then. I did play and Colin from Alien Safari liked what I did and offered me a residency throughout the winter at the club which was a great way to master my DJ skills. I played my first outdoor the following summer, starting the party. As the cliché goes, the rest is history.
Psymedia: You formed DMMT alongside Martin Treurnich (DJ Hoover), releasing one album on the short lived Freefall Records. Tell me about the project a bit. Have you considered playing a set together again?
Dave Mac: We almost did a DMMT reunion gig 2 years ago but the party itself was a total washout so it never happened. I kinda saw that as an omen to move on. If we did decide to do one, we’d have to rework the tunes to match the production levels of today’s standards first. I am looking at remixing 1 or 2 of the tracks that I wrote, such as Africa Bombastic or Real Men Don’t Dance. But I can’t see us doing a DMMT set again
Psymedia: Tell me about your involvement with BPM Magazine and Muse Magazine. I see digital copies are available on the website. Do you see traditional mediums being phased out?
Dave Mac: Yeah, well I started BPM with Thomas (DJ Connecto) in 2003 once Movers and Groovers (Thomas’ previous magazine) imploded. Five years after that we decided to repeat the formula for the rock and pop music scene. I’m Editor-in-Chief and co-own the company with Thomas. Traditional media (print) is struggling but the digital publishing world is not that easy either. One really has to create a niche (like you guys have) and become the leading voice in that area. We don’t see our print magazines as completely ‘traditional media’ though. The fact that the magazine is FREE, the size of it and how it is distributed, plus the content makes us not so mainstream such as say, Rolling Stone Magazine, FHM or other paid for publications. We’ll be 10 years next year which we’re really excited about. The intention of our magazines is and will always be to nurture the music industry in South Africa.
Psymedia: You also founded (I believe?) the popular local underground station Mutha FM. Why did you feel it was necessary, and did you ever think it would grow to what it is today?
Dave Mac: Actually I didn’t found the radio station but thanks for the kudos! I was, however, involved from quite close to its beginning, when it was a pirate station on FM radio. I think it was and is still necessary; the same way BPM Magazine is. To focus on the music we actually like and listen to as opposed to the saccharine drivel the mainstream radio stations serve up most of the time.
Psymedia: What are your thoughts on the other music (besides psytrance) scenes in South Africa at the moment?
Dave Mac: I’m very open-minded and generally listen to a lot of different genres. I think the Urban House scene in Johannesburg is crazy big, and the quality of the productions are definitely getting better and better. But for the size of Cape Town, it is remarkable how much talent (producers and DJs) we have in various electronica scenes. Minimal tech seems to have found a home outdoors with the likes of Kinky Disco doing some rocking stuff and of course Cape Town Electronic Music Festival will be showcasing Cape Town’s finest for their second year in Feb 2013. Guys like Sibot, Haezer, Felix Laband, Markus Wormstorm, Jam Jarr, Spoek Mathambo and others all make cutting edge, world class music. Of course our psy producers do too, but that goes without saying!
Psymedia: Are there any plans to release some new psytrance tracks?
Dave Mac: Yes! Watch this space. It’s taken me ages to resurrect my studio but I’m finally busy with some new stuff. Plus the DMMT remixes I spoke of earlier.
Psymedia: Would you say there’s been a defining season or time which you saw the biggest change within the psytrance scene?
Dave Mac: 2002! That was the year that psy parties went from underground to overground and its popularity went through the roof. Don’t ask me why, but that year will always stick in my mind as the turning point. [It’s also the year I co-organised the Total Solar Eclipse Party outside the Kruger National Park with Vortex, Alien Safari and Etnicanet, which may or may not be coincidental]. Despite its massive popularity today it’s worth noting that psy events are still underground when compared to the mainstream. You don’t find massive billboards and brand activations at trance parties do you?
Psymedia: How has the equipment used for your sets evolved throughout the years? I believe these days you’re making use of some newer technologies such as Traktor?
Dave Mac: When I started most DJs were playing off DAT machines and vinyl. In fact I think I was the first psy DJ to own a CDJ100. I started on vinyl and CD and played off both formats for a few years until vinyl became difficult to acquire. Then it was just CD for many, many years. Traktor actually got me back into DJing after a 2 year hiatus, around 2009. I got so fed up with burning CDs and writing out track-listing etc that I’d kinda stopped playing around 2007. I love the fact that with my laptop I have all my music with me all the time. I don’t only play psytrance so this way I can grab my bag and jam anytime, anywhere.
Psymedia: What industry secrets do you have for upcoming artists?
Dave Mac: As a newbie DJ I suggest you record all your practice sets and listen to them over and over and be hyper critical of yourself. You can only get better that way. Also, the top DJs spend many hours finding the right tunes for their sets. If the tune is a 50/50 then don’t use it. Only play what represents your sound and style and think about where the tune fits into your set. As a producer, copying your favourite artists is not a bad thing, but you do need to create your own signature sound that goes beyond just good production and clever tricks.
Psymedia: The scene in Cape Town has always been relatively friendly with regards to organisers playing nicely. However, its clear psytrance is taking off and understandably new organisers are joining in. Do you think some kind of evolution is bound to happen?
Dave Mac: It was and is inevitable. I see this December as quite a watershed moment for psy parties, not only because of the events happening on the same weekend, but even just because there is so much other stuff happening too, non-trance wise, which people are also going to. But as a seasoned promoter friend said to me just the other day “I’ve been doing this for 15 years and have never been able to make a ‘quick buck’ from throwing events, so I don’t see how anybody else will.” Bottom line, there will always be good and bad parties, good and bad promoters, let’s just hope everybody continues to play nicely.
Psymedia: Thanks for the interview. Any last words?
Dave Mac: The psytrance scene in South Africa is unique and one of the best in the world, which all of us who have been a part of can be proud of. Let’s not fuck it up by fighting with each other.