Mac is an ultra-talented man. Primarily known for the tremendous music he composes and produces as Mac of BIOnighT, he’s also an evocative photographer, a lover of science fiction, horror and pulp literature, not-to-mention being an incredibly nice guy. Emanating from Italy, his huge library of music has spread throughout the world and is rapidly gaining notoriety and piling up award nominations.
From my conversations with him, I’ve come to learn that fiction and music writing are similar in a lot of ways. Many of Mac’s albums have a theme to them, making them, in essence, an intricate story conveyed musically rather than through words printed on a page. By listening to one of Mac’s albums, you to travel the farthest reaches of outer space, explore the untamed wild of undiscovered countries, or lurk through the shadowy halls of a haunted house, depending on which one you choose.
Mac and his music are currently nominated for multiple Schallwelle Awards. I’ve included some instructions on how you can vote for him following the interview, but enough from me. We’re about to get Mac’s take on his music, photography, his favorite genre fiction writers, and more. So, if you haven’t met him before, I’m honored to introduce you to my friend, Mac of BIOnighT!
Q: You’re a talented musician. When did you first discover your love for creating music?
Mac: I’m not sure about the “talented” bit, but I sure love making music. My fascination started with sounds in general, actually. As a child, I spent hours playing with a home reel-to-reel tape recorder, recording sounds and then speeding them up or slowing them down. I could spend hours listening to a sound or noise that struck me, much to my parents’ annoyance when I stopped walking to listen to a noise while we were going someplace. As a child, I also loved to do what I called “counting the instruments”: I put on a record and focused on a single instrument, listening carefully to all it did during the whole track. Then I played it again, focusing on a second instrument in the same way, and so on, until I knew exactly how many instruments appeared in the song and what they did throughout it. I started making something vaguely resembling music only when I was 16, though, on a toy electric organ. It all progressed from there.
Q: How would you describe the kind of music you create for those who may not have heard it yet?
Mac: Uhmmm, that’s a tough one… I make just about every kind of music – Berlin School, ambient, Italo Disco, synthpop, experimental, contemporary, space rock, cinematic, drone, jazzy, ethnic, retro, what have you, plus a lot of stuff that doesn’t fall into any category. That includes a series of fake horror soundtracks, too: just go to this page http://www.macvibes.com/MUSICE.html and scroll down, you’ll find a series called “Horror Tales”.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
Mac: I would have to say “every musical piece ever made”… the two strongest influences, however, are probably Berlin School (the early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze) and Italo Disco from the 80’s.
Q: Of all your albums, which are your personal favorites?
Mac: That’s another tough one… in Naples they have a saying that I could approximately translate as “Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother” – I think the meaning is clear even in English 😉 I do have some favorites, though, but I think they are too many to list… I could mention, among many others, “Black Light,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/black-light-classic-em-01 ) “Aelectroid,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/aelectroid-classic-em-08 ) “Weather Changes,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/weather-changes ) “African Days,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/african-days ) “Secluded,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/secluded-classic-em-21 ) “A Faint Smile,” (https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/a-faint-smile ) but I could go on and on… Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother 😉
Q: You have several Science Fiction, Horror and Adventure themed albums. How do you come up with the themes for them?
Mac: Well, it depends… the whole “Space Adventures” series ( http://www.macvibes.com/spaceadventures/ ) is inspired by the old sci-fi golden era, when the sense of wonder was at its peak and anything went as long as it sounded or looked futuristic and exciting. Space and a certain future seemed still possible back then. I simply tried to convey that kind of atmosphere with that series of albums and the world I created around them. As to horror, to me the “Horror Tales” series is mostly a tribute to the horror movies and novels I was a fan of in the 80’s that I still love, so “Hides in the fog” is a clear tribute to Carpenter’s film “The Fog,” “City of Vampires” is inspired by Bigelow’s film “Near Dark”. “The Presence” was inspired by a short story, but I’ll let your readers guess which after reading the plot of the album 😉
Unlike all my other albums, this series is basically a tribute, as I said, and as such it is more tightly connected to existing material. One exception is “Upstairs,” which was inspired by the presences or energy or whatever it is that lives upstairs in my own home, even if in the past few years it’s been growing quieter and quieter.
One track, finally, was inspired by a great sci-fi short story written by a Matt Cowan, you may know him, I think 😉 That’s on the album “In the Wind” ( https://macofbionight.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-wind-classic-em-17 ) .
Q: I love the cover art on your albums as well. How do you choose them?
Mac: Thank you 🙂 Normally musicians choose the cover when the album is finished, many of them don’t even care what’s on the cover. It works the other way around for me: I start from the cover. I have a concept in my head, for example, and I create an image that represents that concept, and then I compose and record the music using the image as a map, a point of reference, a path to follow. I rarely used images by other people in the past, but in recent years I’ve started a collaboration with my uncle and personal photography teacher Domenico “Sem” Semeraro (http://domenicosemerarofoto.jimdo.com/ ) regarding my covers. He sends me a photo he thinks might become a cover, and I create the album with that as a map. It’s very stimulating, since it guides me to musical places I wouldn’t have visited otherwise.
Q: I always like to ask those who step into the dark corridors of Horror Delve this question: How and when did you first discover your love of the horror genre?
Mac: My mother had a passion for science fiction and horror, which was very unusual for a woman at that time here in Italy. I grew up reading books and watching films belonging to those genres, so I guess they’re just in my genes 😉 The first novel I ever read was “The Invisible Man” by Wells, which we may consider a mixture of horror and sci-fi. I was a child. I read it twice on the same day, and once more the day after.
Q: Who are some of your favorite horror and science fiction writers?
Mac: Well, the usual (old) suspects, I think, nothing original… Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Robert A. Heinlein, John Wyndham, etc for science fiction. As to horror, John Saul has written some good ones, and so has Dean Koontz; Richard Matheson (who probably fits both genres). But I have to admit, banal as it may sound, to me horror means Stephen King, back when he still could write. I guess too much money can ruin any artist.
Q: What about favorite short stories or novels in those genres?
Mac: Off the top of my head, I would say “Universe” and “Starship Troopers” by Heinlein, “The House on Maple Street” and “The Word processor of the Gods” by King (yes, he could write some great science fiction, too, unfortunately he was “typecast” (so to speak) as a horror writer), but I’m sure there are plenty more I can’t remember just now. As to horror, I guess I’ll have to mention King again with “The Stand,” “It,” “The Mist”.
Q: I’m also a fan of your photography work. Can you tell us about how you find and capture the perfect image?
Mac: Thanks 🙂 Actually, I’m happy when I can come up with a picture my uncle/teacher doesn’t kick my butt for, so perfection is not my main concern, yet ;-P
However, the principle that guides me is the same that guides me in music: what I do must be a visible/audible representation of what I have in mind, the closer it is, the better the result is to me, regardless of rules, trends, quality, or other people’s opinions.
Q: What projects are you working on now?
Mac: I’m currently working on some collaborative projects, plus the usual array of solo albums (I always work on three to nine – depending on the period – albums at the same time). I’m also working on an ambient/atmospheric soundset for one of Tone2’s synthesizers. Stay tuned 😉
Q: How can people get your music, your pictures and keep up with your current projects?
Mac: My music can be found on my website http://www.macvibes.com and my photography on my Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/macofbionight/sets/72157634018685838/
If you want to keep updated, just send an email to my email address firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “subscribe” in the object line, and I will add your name to my mailing list (don’t worry, I’m too lazy to spam people to death, I just send a newsletter out when I have a new album or something important to say). When you subscribe to my newsletter, you get a download album of your choice for free, so remember to tell me what album you’d like to receive.
Q. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Mac: All I can say is thank you for having me. It’s been a real pleasure and an honor. A big hug to you and all your readers!
Mac of BIOnighT, versatile and prolific musician from Italy whose vast catalog includes just about any kind of music that can be made with electronic instruments.
Subscribe to Mac’s Music: To make sure you never miss any of Mac’s music, you can subscribe to him via Patreon here: http://www.patreon.com/MacofBIOnighT
HOW TO VOTE FOR MAC FOR SCHALLWELLE AWARDS:
Go to http://www.schallwelle-preis.de/voting/en/ – on the left you will see all the links to the various sections. Start from the first one “Vote for artist national 2015” – click on it and the list of the artists from Germany will open, choose the one you want to vote for, click on the button called “select” you will see on the right of the name, and you will see your vote appear in the section on the right called “current selection” (ignore it for now). You can choose one, two or three names (no more than three). You must, however, cast at least one vote for each of the four categories.
Now click on “Vote for artist international 2015” – repeat the procedure (look for “Mac of BIOnighT” if you want to vote for me, of course!)
Repeat the procedure for the other two categories.
In the category called “Vote for album 2015 international ” you will find two of Mac’s albums, look for “Mac of BIOnighT” again and you’ll see both “Dimmig Väg” and “Dim Daylight”. You can vote for both albums, if you feel they deserve it.
When you are done with the votes, click on “submit votes” in the “current selection” section on the right. That will take you to a form you have to fill in with your name and email address. If you have cast at least one vote for every category, ignore the note you see below the form and just click on “confirm and submit votes”.
Written by Matt Cowan