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paulmac - Heart on his sleeve, tongue in his cheek

Author: Nigel Tan
Wednesday, 7 August 2002
We know him as one half of Itchee and Srcatchee, the producers of the anthemic "Sweetness and Light". He tried his hand at TV writing for The Ferels and Good News Week. A few years ago he cemented himself into dance music folklore when he thanked the ectstacy dealers at the ARIA awards "I was so joking". And now he laughs in the face of good syntax to become paulmac. I chatted with him recently, just before he was Taragoed to a Brisbane gig, about his album and current tour.

There can't be anything more life changing than having your house burn down. Heart breaking and somewhat inconvenient it proved to be a turning point in Mac's career. 'Head for the hills' was the cry and to the peace and calm of the Blue Mountains he headed. It was there that he rebuilt his studio and settled in for two years. Time after a personal catastrophe can prove to be quite reflective, Mac used this time to put pen to paper and write, and finally record 3000 Feet High.

3000 Feet High is filled with songs that are effortlessly elegant and sometimes painfully sincere. Mac puts the album's consistency and feel down to a few things:

"I had stopped going out, started chilling out, I was having a sort of change of life and I was like, in this sort of head space, emotional space and also as I was writing it, there was no plan"

"[The songs] came out just one by one in this kind of reflective mood over two years… and because it was a really solo album, there wasn't anybody else saying 'I want to do this, I want to do that'… That's why there is such a consistent mood, because essentially that music is my emotional DNA, that is my personality, that is what it sounds like."

Thank God that the mouse genome has been mapped, that only means that we are only a few steps from finding out the route to paulmac's emotional DNA and once bottled and put into aerosol form, we'll be millionaires, just like Paul.

Mac is now touring with the album, spreading his gospel. Most who have gone have come away with what might seem like religious euphoria.

" I can't believe the amount of love that is coming off the audience, without sounding like a boring hippy, it has all been like that. I think its because the music is so emotional and so honest in its emotion, the people who get it like really really get it. A couple of times, between songs, I go to talk and I just can't because people are going mental, everyone singing the words, stuff that I wouldn't expect them to know and it's like fuck, this is really beautiful."

The rest of Mac's entourage are similarly moved by the experience. Not even colds and a flu, which Peta Morris manages to give to everyone else in Adelaide, slows them down in the slightest.

Backstage before a concert St Paul leads his assembly in a 'prayer circle', named in honour of Madonna, everyone sings the choir part from "Just The Thing", Peta does her part and the trade mark sunglasses are slipped on.

So what inspires the inspirational- What does a man who is classically trained and electronically motivated listen to- Mac runs off esoteric electronic groups that sound like lava lamp brands to me. But what is not really surprising, is that he feeds off the emotion that is expressed by groups like Radiohead and Bjork.
"I find that so much dance music is really just about a speed rush more than anything else. I also don't really like listening to it because I don't want to be influenced."

We inevitably come to the "what does the future hold" question but I decide to ask him if questions like that force him to think about his direction if there wasn't one before. With some irony he slips into what sounds like a well worn answer:

"I have no idea, I had no plan, there was no plan for this album, my home burnt down, I ended up in the Blue Mountains, it changed my life. I started writing songs - out came the album. Life lead to it".

It is safe to say that world domination is not penciled in his diary anywhere.

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