Inspiring Spaces: Scuba Diva aka Jimmy Mac
Rebecca Barry Hill visits Jimmy Mac in his favourite room
The first solo venture from Lorde’s keyboardist, AKA Jimmy Mac, the former drummer of Popstrangers and the DHDFHD’s.
“This is the room [at home in his city-fringe apartment] where I record everything. I’ve got my synths, tape machine, a 70s desk, record player, some old organs and midi keyboards. I have a Ludwig drum — they were the first to do those acrylic drumkits. Bonham played one. So did Keith Moon from The Who, all these 70s drummers. They had huge kits of see-through stuff. I play it for Scuba Diva.
“I’m here because I can’t afford to get a recording studio. But all my stuff’s here, ready for me to use if I need to record. I find I’m always getting inspired by a sound. I’d probably spend six, seven hours here a day.
“On the other side of the room is my wife’s Dad’s art. The rest of the room’s the kitchen. So I’ll take a break at lunch and cook, usually luxury items on toast. Or my mum’s recipes. She’s Singaporean. She gave me a bunch of curry and dahl recipes so I cook those ones that I know. Or I’ll walk up to Ponsonby Rd. It’s good to get out and move around.
“We moved in a couple of years ago. Because we’re renting, we’re limited to what we can do here. It’s pretty tiny. We’re happy with the amount of stuff in here but maybe we’d change a few things, re-cover the couch or something. We have a bunch of vintage stuff, mid-century kind of stuff. But we didn’t really have a vibe of thinking of what we’d like the room to look like.
"The red couch was [wife] Emma’s parents and that was in their house. She comes from a long line of artists. Her granddad was an artist, her dad [Simon McIntyre] is an artist, she’s an artist, so all this rad furniture was handed down to us. It was weird when we met because I’m a Mac too.
“It’s a cool view if you look out the window and just look up, because you can see trees. They’re amazing colours at this time of year. In winter, there’s no green at all. If you look down, it’s a shitty carpark. There’s this family that always set their car alarm off as I’m gazing out. In the morning, when they come home, when they leave at night. They just haven’t got wraps on their alarm. There are always people coming and going, so it’s good to look out the window.
“My wife’s painting is on the wall. She paints architecture, or takes photos of buildings or sees the shadows or light and paints that in an abstract way. I get inspired and look at music more as art, like a painter would, as opposed to looking at music as to whether something’s catchy. It’s something textural. I’m always questioning sounds, as an artist would question a colour.
“When I think about it, this room has got the worst acoustics ever. Big glass windows and wooden floors which is not great. Everything’s really reflective. There’s so much hullabaloo about your room environment but it kind of makes recording sound good to me. Like there’s this weird element in there. The energy hasn’t been all sucked out. If you record in a studio it just becomes so dry and naff, there’s no character to it.
“I’ve only released one track [What’s the Point? co-produced with Silicon’s Kody Nielson]. That was me just sitting on the couch and singing into this mic.
“Having all your stuff around you, it’s a comforting thing, it helps you be who you are. When you’re in a studio scenario you’re only a piece of that studio and everything else is someone else’s stuff.”
• Scuba Diva will play at Laneway on February 1, then will probably head off on tour with Lorde again.