New York City is still THE hot bed for up-and-coming talent in the arts industry. Even with the crazy real estate prices and ridiculous cost of living, it stays at the top of the list in the world for arts-centric migration. Whether it’s music, visual arts, or performing arts, New York City is still the place to be. Hell, we even moved there. We recently sat down with one of our fellow Aussie migrators to dig a little deeper behind the mask and to introduce you to a man, a creature, a myth, that we think you need to know about.


#VSMEETS the man behind Lord Fascinator, Johnny Mackay.


Image: Ben Everden


1000+ Earth years


Who, or what, are some of your inspirations? 
Food, love, sex, wrong concepts, turtles.


Where did it all start for you, music wise?
My mother playing me Boney M as a child, then my best mate selling me his old guitar in year 12.


Were you formally trained, or more self taught?
I had a guitar lesson once and walked out frustrated halfway through. The best education is playing with people better than you, then realising that “better” is completely subjective and a kinda silly concept when it comes to creating any kind of art.


What were some early bands/groups you were in?
The Phillips Sisters with my old friend Jonny Goldcoast. He would sing and I would make kinda crappy, lo-fi music with a Casio keyboard and a guitar. Then our mate Jim BBQ joined on drums. He’s really good at yoga and would play this crazy old Simmons electronic kit sometimes so we changed it to The Amazing Phillips Sisters. Eventually another friend, Billy Goat, came in on bass at which point we started to sound a lot more psych-rock. Around this time Jonny Goldcoast was meditating and the name Electric Smile Band came to him in a trance. Here’s a clip by one of my video mentors Spod…


When did you start DJing? And producing? 
Well…I DJ’d here and there back in Australia but I guess it didn’t really become such a regular thing until I moved to NYC. I still think it’s a bit of a joke really and way more about taste than technique. I can usually tell if I’m going to like the DJ after me by how seriously they take themselves. At the end of the day you’re just playing other people’s music. I really love doing it.
As for producing, in the electronic realm it began for me in the back of tour vans and on planes. I’d feel so unproductive in transit so started putting on headphones and dicking around in Ableton. That’s where all the first Fascinator tracks came from.


Lord Fascinator - In n out
Image by: Kylie Speer


Since going solo from Children Collide, your sound has developed into an amalgamation of traditionally instrument type sounds and electronic sound design, what lead you down this path?
Well…Children Collide was one of many different projects I’ve been involved in. The example I gave above of Phillips Sisters/Electric Smile Band is a good answer to this question. Fascinator is an extension and a continuation of earlier explorations. I don’t get how any musician can be satisfied making just one style of music, let alone only listen to one. I generally think anyone like that is a fraud. A true artist is an intrepid explorer. Otherwise we’d get real jobs.


Do you remember the first party/event you held, or played at? 
Yeah. In my head. Everyone was there.


So tell us about Lord Fascinator, who is he? What’s he about?
He’s a cosmic shaman from a planet far, far away. He’s also the leader-dude of Fascinator. He has a lot of big ideas, but you’d have to be psychic and speak a million different languages to understand them all.


Images by: Kylie Speer


You first started releasing music and now have branched out into an apparel, yeah? 
I can’t remember which came first, but yes. The original Fascinator hat by Lord Fascinator is quite the hot little item.


Who are some of your favourite artists, now and in the past? 
At this very moment I’m listening to Matias Aguayo. Thinking about showing my friend either Gummo or Holy Mountain later tonight. The second one is my favourite film so the time must always be right. Those Gregorian Monks did alright didn’t they? Shostakovich made some weird shit and I could listen to Agitation Free all day long.


What are some records that never leave your bag/usb and that you always find yourself falling back on when DJing?
Nine times out of ten I find myself playing Mulatu Astatke, specifically Yègellé Tezeta at some point in the evening.


Any last words? 
The end is nigh.


If all this isn’t enough for you, you can connect with Fascinator on Facebook, or Twitter, and check out more of his amazing work on his Soundcloud.

We’ll leave you with this clip from his latest single Showing Off;

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