Mac Major is well known for his work with hip-hop group 'The Doqument' and DJing on the local music and entertainment scene. I sat down with Mac in his first solo interview to chat about how his DJ career came together and also to get the low down on the nextShenanigans event this Sunday, September 27th at Sweatshop Brew Bar, which is fast picking up quite the following.
What's your cultural background and where did you grow up?
It's pretty crazy, so my Mum is Filipino, and I was born in the Philippines. My Dad is Cook Island from Rarotonga. I grew up in Wellington for half of my life, we moved around a bit and then eventually we ended up back in Rarotonga. My old man got a job there and they've been there ever since. They do come back to Auckland every now and again to see us kids. I think as soon as we were old enough to move out of home we left Rarotonga, but we always like to go back and visit the family.
Wow, I'm buzzing out right now. I'm a Cook Islander myself and I had no idea you were too. There are very few Cook Islanders in mainstream entertainment so it's awesome to meet another one. Instant connection right here.
(In true Pacific Island fashion when you find out someone is closely linked, the conversation then turns into talk about family connection, what villages each one is from, favorite spots to visit back home and so on... We chatted and laughed for a while before I remembered this was supposed to be an interview. Oops my bad).
Anyway, back to the interview (laughs). I have just seen literally half an hour before this interview that you and your crew - The Doqument, have just dropped a new jam on social media called Drive Thru, tell us about it.
I think it represents growth. It represents a new chapter.
We also have a new video dropping soon. I've known these guys for a very long time and I think it represents a coming of age. It's very mature and bit more grown up, so I see it being a bit more polished and I hope people like it.
There's a whole bunch of tracks in the works that touch on a number of different subjects and we can't wait to share it with everyone.
Where can peeps find 'The Doqument' tracks on social media?
You can buy it now on iTunes. You can listen to it now on Spotify and on Sound Cloud, just look up - The_Doqument (with a Q). Also check us out on Facebook.
Everyone has a story about how everything started for them. What is YOUR story about becoming a DJ?
As I mentioned earlier I grew up in Wellington and I was always around my cousins as you could imagine with a big Cook Island family, so we were always hanging around getting up to all that no good (laughs) and I was always surrounded by music, whether it be hip-hop or Michael Jackson. There was a family friend who had turntables and I would just watch him play.
I think the time when I figured out that I actually wanted to be a DJ is probably when I went to this basketball tournament and there was this DJ playing and I wanted to be that dude who controlled the vibe for everyone.
But I didn't get into it until later on when I was living in Rarotonga. My after school job was cleaning at this bar that a family friend owned and they used to bring DJs over from New Zealand. I'd come in after school and they'd be doing sound check and I was able to get a few pointers, I caught the bug off that. I moved back to New Zealand and it kind of flourished from there.
How did things pick up for you when you moved back to NZ?
The goal was to move here and go to uni. I lived with family in South Auckland and again I was constantly surrounded by music and people that have tried to make it. I had always known the basics of DJing, but this one night I went to this uni party and this guy was DJing. He was terrible, so I asked him if I could have a go and I caught the bug again. I started playing crazy uni parties, house parties for free, then the student bar circuit and so on.
But I reckon it's about that one party that you play and one person sees it then hey, you get booked for a whole bunch of other things, so yeah I guess it was a stroke of luck. It just kind of snowballed from there. Those humble beginnings.
I must say that something I've started to notice a lot more now is that, there's so many guys out there calling themselves DJ's... but as we know, there's more to it than just having turntables, a Mac and Serato... I'm not hating, it's just an observation, but, how's does one take it to that next level?
This is my own personally take on this. You don't have to have all the crazy skills or own all the flash gears. I'm 'ok,' but I'm nowhere near what some of the guys can do in terms of being a DMC champ. I'm nowhere near that, I can do some of that stuff but, I think when you get into a club or concert environment your goal is to convert people into a fan, and essentially dictate their emotions.
So you need to be able to play the right songs, play the right songs at the right time and just ensure that they are having a great night. If you just crack that one show, that one gig/break, it will have a snowball effect. I've seen that happen, personally in my own experience, over the last two or three years.
How would you describe your DJ style?
Man, I like to take things on journeys. I like a bumpy road - bring people up and bring people down, drop the mood a little bit. But it also depends on where I am.
So, if it's in a club, I like to make sure people know the words to every song. I'm also kind of unorthodox on what the mood is. I like to take people on that journey and I guess I like it to sound like the set has been produced and not done live. That's the goal. Having people questioning - Am I listening to a really long mix tape or a guy playing live?
Think back to all the gigs you've done. Do you have a particular favorite gig of all time you've DJ'd at?
Ahhh, hopefully there's more to come. I think it would have to be a couple of years ago when The Doqument was still kind of fresh on the scene and we opened for Freddie Gibbs and that was crazy. That was one of the biggest shows that we've played as The Doqument. It was memorable because we all grew up listening to that and Frontline and stuff. When David Dallas came out and performed 'Caught in a Daze' with Freddie it was like 'ohhhh shit, this is the shit right here'.
That was a real symbolic moment where this established American rapper has come here to NZ and done some shit live with the bro. That was really cool to see.
When is the next Shenanigans event, has your group of boys sussed out the next one?
Yeah it's on the 27th September so come down have a jam. Winter has shaken off a little and hopefully we get some spring sun. But once summer hits, the venue (Sweat Shop Brew Bar) is awesome; it's got a massive deck area and we'll be partying into the late hours.
Shenanigans is picking up quite the following now... how did you become involve with the event?
It was over a year ago and I was chatting to Dave (David Dallas) one day and he was saying that he was keen to start up a Sunday Sesh. I think he just had his ideal kind of crew that he wanted to team up with, people that are like-minded in terms of music taste and bring the right people in. So yeah it was through him.
What is your drink of choice at Shenanigans?
Lately, man it's been spiced rum and ginger beer. I got it off a friend - I think they call it a 'dark and stormy' but it's not really a 'dark and stormy.' It's quite nice, it plays with the taste buds, quite refreshing.
I must taste this drink. Just a few more questions left bro...
What are three things that annoy you when you DJ?
(Laughs) Oh dude, I get this every week and I think a lot of DJs can relate to this.
Firstly, definitely when people type their song request on their phone and then hoist it up and shove it in your face and tell you to play the song.
Secondly, when I DJ, I feel like the booth is your workspace. It's your desk, and if anyone has their foot on your desk, you're gonna be a little bit annoyed. Although some people think, oh DJs have all these groupie girls (that wanna look cool) in the booth and they love that - I actually hate it. It's one of the annoying things. I'm quite a big dude so I don't like restricting my normal movements. So it feels like I've gotta restrict my natural movement to accommodate others taking up that space.
The last thing that annoys me - is dudes coming up and asking me if I have a mic and asking if I need an MC (laughs). I actually have been getting that a lot lately.
(Laughs) Crack up. Now I've got to ask this before we finish... have you had any dodgy offers come your way from thirsty chicks when you've been gigging?
To be honest... nah. I think I'm really staunch in my workspace and I'm in that work mindset. So I'm really protective of anything that could distract me from what I'm doing. So I can't say that I have had crazy offers and I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary like that. But, I'm sure there are a couple of other DJs out there that could prove me wrong (laughs).