We talked to Macajey about his new ‘Water’ EP, life in Estonia, and learning the studio ropes from Ben Frost.
Jeremy Macachor grew up in California, but became an expat in his early twenties, pursuing a music career as he roamed Europe. As Macajey, Macachor includes bits of downtempo, house, IDM, and future beat in his music, but he’s too versatile and full of curiosity to settle into any one style. Macachor’s new Water EP is out today and streaming in full below. While you listen, read our chat with Jeremy as he explains his European travels, musical milestones, and future dreams.
From your home in San Francisco, you’ve travelled to England, Scotland, Iceland, and have now settled in Estonia for now. Can you briefly explain the different steps of your journey?
Since I was about 20 I knew that I wanted to live in Europe for at least a while. Around 22, I decided I wanted to focus on sound engineering as a career, so I applied to SAE London and got in. About halfway through the diploma course I was thinking about what to do after. Thinking it was an insane long shot that wouldn’t amount to anything, I emailed Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland, Valgeir Sigurðssons studio, and I guess the stars were aligned, because they took me in as part of their internship program. After Iceland I went back to California but still had that itch to get back to Europe, so I found another internship, this time in Edinburgh, Scotland. From there I went to Estonia to visit some friends I had met in Iceland and see what the country was like. I ended up staying because rent was dirt cheap and I was in a nice cozy apartment with my own room after 2 months of couch surfing. To cut a long story short, I ended up staying and marrying my roommate. If you told the 20 year-old me that by 25 all that was going to happen, I would’ve said fuck off.
What is Estonia like? What city do you live in there? What is the music scene like in your town and beyond?
Estonia is the northernmost Baltic country, has a population of about 1.3 million, and huge amounts of forest. They gained their independence for the 2nd time from Russia in 1991, so anyone over 30 has memories of what they call “Soviet times,” which were not exactly the best times. But now you can say the country is getting into its stride, and is known for startup companies. Skype for example was started here. The town I’m in is called Tartu. It’s a university town so there are lots of young people and a good social scene. I’m the sound man at the main venue here in town, so there’s always something happening from theater to comedy nights, to death metal to hip-hop, prog rock, post rock, folk, basically everything comes through. On average I would say the quality of music is very good and creative. Of course you have horrible, horrible music coming through. If anyone wants to look up Marco Tasane, I had to be his DJ one night. If you don’t take him seriously though it’s pretty funny, and it was a fun experience. Local bands to look up if you want good music: Argo Vals, Mari Kalkun, The Werg, Eik, Pastacas, Estrada Orchestra, and Lexsoul Dancemachine, to name a few.
How did your sister, Ashley Macachor, contribute to the Water EP? Have you collaborated in the past?
She did some backup vocals on “Love and War”. We made an album together under the name Innocent Bandits about 8 years ago (http://innocentbandits.bandcamp.com/). Now she’s making music with her husband under the name ‘Oddly Even’.
Tell us a little more about your work at Greenhouse Studios in Iceland. What was it like working with Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson?
I was an intern there for 3 months. It was the most incredible experience of my life up to that point, and is only second to getting married. The studio is family run and so chill. Not some sterile studio environment. It’s actually a converted home so it was always relaxed. The first two weeks I was basically only painting and helping to remodel the B studio for about 10 hours a day, but after I proved myself a bit I got to go help Ben Frost record Wildbirds and Peacedrums, who at the time were one of my favorite bands so it was quite the surprise when after one long painting day the studio manager said, tomorrow you’ll be going to a church at 6am to start working on the Wildbirds and Peacedrums album. Mostly I was there just as a helping hand to Ben, unloading gear, wrapping cables, and watching and learning.
Slowly they gave me more and more responsibility and I was setting up mics for classical sessions, doing a bit of editing and pre-mixing, making stems. And of course in between all that stuff making a lot of coffee for everyone, cleaning, mailing merch, editing their website, everything an intern is suppose to do.
Where do you anticipate going next, geographically and musically?
Geographically we’ve set up camp here in Estonia. Our dream, which might come true in a few years, is to move to the countryside, which is abundant and cheap in Estonia. Get a small house with a lot of land and start living the DIY/self-sustainable life. Get some chickens, maybe a goat, grow our own vegetables, build a small home studio where I can record other bands as well as do my own projects. Musically, I want to get more out of the box, physically and mentally. I had a thought a few months ago: “if there were no record labels, no music blogs, no need to self promote and get my music out there and not even any desire on my end to get on a record label, then what sort of music would I be making?” It was a huge moment for me, because the truth is for all my twenties I dreamed of getting on a label and touring, but it never happened. So I want to change my perspective on how and why I make music to begin with. Hopefully some interesting music follows.