We know what you’re thinking: Matt Damon has a better-looking younger brother? That’s what we thought too until we met Canadian musician Donny MacLeod. Sure, he’d make a killing playing Damon’s stunt double or decoy during TIFF, but his first love is music – electronica, to be exact. The Edmonton native recently left his adopted home of Montreal to set up shop here in Toronto remixing and producing. We caught up with MacLeod to find out what songs and musicians changed his life and what he loves most about calling Toronto home…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I spent the last four years of my life making electronic music in a really cheap living situation in Montreal. For a while I was making clubby stuff and playing them, but then I got more into remixing and producing other artists. I found my niche in the electronica movement. A couple of my songs started to do well early last year but, penniless, I took off to Toronto in hopes of finding a day job. I ended up finding a pretty cool one, and the highlight of my year was working with Ai Wei Wei on his Forever Bicycles Exhibit for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in September. I have some new songs with a female vocalist from Denver that I will be releasing soon. You can catch them on YouTube and a couple radio stations.
Who were some of the most influential bands and musicians in your life while you were growing up?
My dad always had the classic rock station on while we were driving around to preschool or whatever. I definitely got into the dark vibes of the 70s. I loved Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin – stereotypical rock bands from that era. In high school, hip-hop and electronic hit me pretty hard. I was really into the first things deadmau5 ever made; clubby stuff. I was into it pretty hard for a while… not so much anymore. I stopped doing the dance club thing, I guess. It all got kind of mainstream.
What’s currently on your iPod?
I like some groups from upstate New York – Phantogram and MS MR. I like chill wave, anything that sounds like it’s from the 80s. There’s all these music videos on YouTube now where people chop up nostalgic movies and commercials from the 80s and 90s and it goes to the music for artists like Com Truise and Washed Out. I really dig it. I watch them for hours.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin’ in the Dark” for obvious reasons.
What song would you say you’ve listened to the most in life and why?
I was just at my old house and I noticed this on iTunes in the basement where I grew up. The song with most listens was Atmosphere’s ‘Trying To Find A Balance.” It’s an angry song about being up in the air on whether you want live your life really seriously or as a complete joke. And how the world hasn’t made the decision yet either.
Song that pumps you up?
I get into the White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army.” Take it a little too far some times. And all that Ke$ha and Pitbull crap – when I feel like not paying attention, that Top 40 stuff can be a guilty pleasure.
Song that makes you cry?
Eminem’s “Stan.” Love that one. It’s just a really straightforward tale. The language isn’t confusing at all. It’s about how we put people on pedestals and they let us down, and how everyone is a monster if you look close enough.
What are three things you can’t live without?
I cant live without my computer (YouTube, Facebook, etc). All my music production stuff is on there, too. I’m just a techy person. I love it, always have. I like being plugged in. I can’t live without a girl who can live with my mood swings and not take them to heart, and my apartment always gets really messy when I’m not dating anyone. I used to be carefree and single but now I need someone like that to function. I’m very impulsive and I make really quick decisions. I also can’t live without Coca-Cola and root beer and stuff like that. I drink 4-5 cans a day at least.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…once you get past its rep for being cheesy and careerist, you start to see how these people do stuff with other people in mind, most of them are dying to help you, get you a job, or hang out with whomever. I started thinking about others a lot more after I came here, and it’s a good time. The answer is usually yes here, to most questions.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with your busy life?
Check out my channel – plenty of new tracks on the way.