What to Listen to While Studying: Mac DeMarco

The new instrumental album by the artist Mac DeMarco seeks to go back to basics and not call attention – the opposite of what an artist would want. Originating from his travels, he created what I could only call a ‘peaceful daily atmosphere’. And for modern-day students, music plays a crucial role in their day-to-day activities, which is where the collision happens. 


Text and images by Camila Heredia Oranday.

Once upon a time, a particular person called Mac DeMarco embarked on a journey through the road. Four months by himself, driving through the United States, to Canada, and back again to Los Angeles. His mode of transportation is his Toyota Land Cruiser from the 90s. It could be considered a coming-of-age trip in which you can find yourself – your true self – and create stuff for the sake of creating, and not because you are specifically looking for something to come out of it, because, as he says: “I was in it while I was in it, and this is what came out of it, just the way it was,” to Emma Garland from an interview for Daze magazine1. It undoubtedly became the soundtrack for his trip. All the memories latched onto it – where he ate, stayed, watched sunsets and sunrises – everything he witnessed during that trip and completed by his other life experiences condensed into one 14-song album, which I listen to every day


Five Easy Hot Dogs is his way of battling what people expect nowadays, not only from him but from music in general, and to show that experimenting is a crucial part of being an artist. The exclusion of singles, announcements, and promoting. 
With a warm, cosy, and subtly psychedelic tone, this new album addresses peace, mindfulness, and where to find them.
Released from the shackles of society and what it expects as an audience, the album is not really seeking attention; it does not mind if the streams are less than before. It realizes that the simple pleasures in life come from not expecting anything in return, from not caring if people are paying attention. However, as a listener, I cannot help but be obsessed with it, knowing there is more to it than meets the eye. 

© Camila Heredia Oranday/sk0ac, 2023


Mac DeMarco’s music has been ingrained in people’s minds since the early 2010s thanks to his ‘jizz jazz’ style and personal pizzazz. It was the years when everyone who wanted to be ‘different’ dressed in the same way; Vans, Levi’s, Patagonia. I vividly remember when I heard Freaking Out the Neighborhood (2012) – probably around 2017 – and immediately added it to my playlist for indie songs.
I remember the day because it completely changed how I listened to music. I was beginning to open up a lot more as a listener and let new artists in, not just looping the same bands over and over again. It was also super interesting to see how my brain clung to that style, and it is just like they say when a song ‘scratches your brain’.
At 32 years, the Canadian artist can give the audience a sense of nostalgia for a time they weren’t even there yet; his funky presence alongside his established ‘blue wave’ guitar symphonies translate as a peaceful ambience for his listeners. 

© Camila Heredia Oranday/sk0ac, 2023


We can also see a beautiful connection between the 1970’s movie Five Easy Pieces by Bob Rafaelson, in which Jack Nicholson’s character ends up hopping onto a truck to fade away through his disappearance. Of course, DeMarco doesn’t want to disappear, but I think it is a way of using a little escapism to express himself after his other record-breaking albums. It’s this need to interact and engage with the idea of being alone, finding yourself beneath your own body, completely alone. 
This album can encompass everything a student today might look for in an album: serenity, playfulness, and adventure. So, I sincerely encourage you to keep reading with Five Easy Hot Dogs in the background.

Camila Heredia Oranday is an Arts Curating undergraduate student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

1. Garland, E. (2023) Mac DeMarco: ‘I’d like to feel some kind of peace’. [Online] available at: https://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/58074/1/mac-demarco-five-easy-hot-dogs-interview [Accessed 4 Apr. 2023].

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