Dave Mac – IDM Mag – Interview
Dave Mac has been involved in various aspects of the music industry for almost 20 years. He started DJing in 1997 and is one of Cape Town’s best known psytrance DJs who you will still find on many of the major festival line-ups every year. Dave also started a production duo with Martin Treurnicht aka DJ Hoover called DMMT and in 2005 released the well received album, ‘Africa Bombastic.’ The 9 track collection of upfront psytrance received excellent reviews both globally and locally, selling out in South African stores and doing very well internationally too. Psyreviews had this to say about Africa Bombastic; “Fluidly solid psychedelic trance, with depth and excitement, great sounds and a couple of upbeat cover versions quietly thrown in.” Several tracks from the album were also syndicated to compilations and DMMT toured Europe, Brazil and Australia to support the album.
Dave was also temporarily involved with two record label imprints, Afrogalactic Records and Freefall Records and was a partner in Cape Town’s premier psytrance event company, Alien Safari, from 2001 to 2004. He was one of several partners (Alien Safari & Vortex) who launched the PRIZM New Year’s Eve event, now known as Rezonance NYE, easily Cape Town’s largest underground New Year’s Eve Festival. In November 2003, Dave started BPM Magazine with Thomas Whitebread. The publication became SA’s leading electronic dance music authority and remained in circulation for 10 years, until 2013. The partners also launched Muse Magazine in 2008, using the same template as BPM Mag, but focused specifically on rock, jazz and pop music.
With the demise of BPM and Muse Magazines Dave turned his focus to the world of digital and in 2014 he launched IDM Mag – an online magazine channel with a similar focus to BPM Magazine, but excluding print. IDM Mag serves daily content, via social media channels to its vast reader base to entertain, inform and educate the electronic dance community in South Africa as well as promote SA electronic music globally. Aside from managing IDM Mag, Dave has been a South African Music Awards (SAMAS) judge for the past 5 years, consults for the music industry, is a Social Media activist and Digital Content Marketer.
Dave you’ve been in the industry forever – tell us how your love for the art of DJing started and give us insights into how the electronic music scene was when you were coming up?
To be honest I never intended to start DJing. I was actually mistaken for someone who was a DJ and asked to play a gig for a friend of a friend at a small club in town. I had tons of music so I said yes. The gig went very well and they offered me a winter residency (for no pay of course) which was a combination of sometimes full but often very quiet dancefloors. Nothing teaches you how to DJ more than managing to keep the only 5 or 10 people in the club on the dancefloor.
A shout out must go to Fletcher from African Dope Records. He explained the concept of beat-mixing (was vinyl back then) to me. I bought a set of belt-driven second hand Numark decks with dodgy torque to learn on at home at the time. After that SL’s were a breeze.
The mid 90′s were an amazing time in South Africa. Apartheid was gone, we had a new government thankfully, and everybody… even some of us privileged ‘whities’ sensed a feeling of uplifted spirits after the suppressive National Party was removed from power. I grew up with parents who instilled the evils of apartheid in me. It was like this dark cloud had been lifted and everybody in town was on a permanent party. People were sitting in coffee shops on Long Street smoking joints like it was Amsterdam! It was a very crazy time. South Africans were learning to express themselves without fear for the first time in our history.
Besides the evolution in technology what are some of the main differences in the electronic music scene in your opinion?
Back then you wouldn’t hear much electronic music on the radio. It was pretty underground… today the youngsters grow up with this music and it’s played everywhere. The biggest events are now all electronic; in the 90’s bands were a big thing, not DJs. Strangely though, there was a proper ‘nightclub culture’ in those days. Nowadays, despite the ubiquity of electronic music, the definition of a club is often more like a groove bar than a big rave club. But events are definitely more professionally run now.
When was that definitive moment when you decided to cover the electronic music scene and why?
Reading (a lot) and music were probably always my 2 favourite past times at school…. aside from ‘jolling’. I’ve always been a bit of a party animal… I’ve still not grown out of having a lekker party So… almost like what happened with the DJing, I was in the right place at the right time when the opportunity first presented itself and I really liked the idea of promoting the industry through print media.
How did BPM come about and what did you set out to do with it at the time?
I launched BPM magazine in 2003 with Thomas Whitebread. He had a trance magazine called Movers and Groovers before that with another partner but when that did not work out he approached me to join him and start something new. I only had one proviso and that was that I wanted to do a magazine that covered all genres of electronic music, not just trance.
It just made sense to me that if we put together a well presented publication every month representing all dance music it would be a good way to uplift and promote DJs, music producers, clubs, events and the music.
Why did BPM come to an end and what makes IDM Mag different to BPM?
We had a good, but sometimes tumultuous partnership for 10 years, Thomas and I. It eventually just ran its course to be honest. As for IDM Mag… I still believe that it is necessary to inform, educate, inspire and entertain people about the world of electronic dance music, especially with a South African voice and focus.
The difference today is that people consume info digitally via social media and on their Smartphones. BPM was a great print mag, something I’ll always be proud of.
IDM Mag is 100% online and we publish up to 100 articles a month, converse with people online and participate in the cyber community.
Give us a run down of a typical day at the office?
In the office by 7am.
First thing I do is proof all the content I’ve received from my writers overnight.
Then I forward this to my Content Manager for publishing.
I usually check what’s happening on social media then write 1 or 2 articles myself or do some content research.
The rest of the morning is spent writing and replying to emails… Or just deleting emails…. I get about 80 press releases per day, 90% of which are international and many that I simply don’t publish. I also get about 20 or 30 digital promos a day which I try my best to sift through but it’s pretty impossible to cover it all.
The rest of the day is spent assigning content to writers, speaking to clients (I do need to generate revenue for the site) or slowly moving closer to my other goals with IDM…
I also do some private digital media work for clients so sometimes I am busy with that.
The best part of course is when I get to test new gear which is the fun part.
Is there more that you want for IDM Mag besides it being an online platform?
There is, and slowly we are getting there. I’ve got some cool stuff planned. Watch this space.
With reviewing such a lot of gear we just had to know what’s your personal choice of gear and why?
I’m a big Native Instruments fan. I think for digital DJing their gear and software is spot on. Their production stuff is also top notch – Massive, Komplete, Maschine etc.
Do you think that South African producers/DJs are more open nowadays in trying alternatives or is it still a case of being brand loyal – sticking to what they know?
DJs are surprisingly conservative and reluctant to try new things from my experience. It’s true that Pioneer make excellent CDJ/Media players for example but Denon media players can do the job pretty well too, yet very few would be prepared to even try them and would be shocked to find them in a DJ booth. So I think that most DJs just like to stick to what they know and aren’t naturally curious to explore new things. That’s why I admire you guys from The Scratch Lab so much and what The Beat Bangaz do. You’ve completely embraced technology even though you are traditionally turntablists.
What would you like to see happening in the South African music scene as well as the DJ scene as a whole?
I think it’s still the same story it’s always been; promoters paying fairly and rewarding DJs that consistently deliver as opposed to looking for the cheapest options. It doesn’t affect me too much, luckily, but for the younger DJs its soul destroying when they get taken advantage of by clubs and promoters.
As for the SA music scene there is a genuine lack of music professionals – good managers, booking agent types etc. This is sadly because the SA industry doesn’t want to grow up and pay properly which means these professional people tend to go where the money is, which is not the music biz. The result is a lot of Producers/Artists/DJs don’t reach their full potential because you can’t do it ‘for the love’ forever.
5 pieces of gear you can’t live without and why?
My Dj setup for gigs…
MacBook with Traktor Scratch Pro, Traktor Kontrol X1, NI Audio8dj timecode soundcard, Urban Ear Headphones
And… My oldskool Kurzweil SP76 electric piano. I don’t play it enough but it does remind me of the power of music. A simple piano melody can be so emotive and beautiful it can cut to the very core of one’s soul.