Earlier this spring, Mac DeMarco found himself at the center of an uncharacteristically heated online debate. He’d just announced his fourth studio album, Here Comes the Cowboy, and released its lead single, “Nobody” — setting off alarm bells for some fans of Mitski, another acclaimed singer-songwriter who released a great album called Be the Cowboy last year with a single called, yes, “Nobody.”
It was a strange coincidence, to be sure. But DeMarco swears that’s all it was. In fact, he says he wasn’t even aware of Mitski’s similarly titled releases when he named his. “I’m incredibly, incredibly bad at keeping up with anything,” he explains. “I think there were some people who were like, ‘How is it possible?’ I’m sorry — I’m really bad at contemporary music.”
DeMarco brought up this subject on his own during a wide-ranging conversation about Here Comes the Cowboy, seeking to set the record straight after some accused him of stealing Mitski’s ideas or choosing his title as a trollish joke. “People really read into it,” he says.
Mitski, meanwhile, was unbothered. “haha! I’m 100% sure mac & I just went fishing in the same part of the collective unconscious!” she tweeted on the day when this became an indie-rock cause célèbre, adding, “Thanks for the laugh, Mac!”
DeMarco, too, seems mostly bemused by the whole thing. “The funniest thing, for me, is that Mitski and me are both musicians, last time I checked,” he says. “And nobody actually got to the musical part of any of it!” (It’s true that the two Cowboy records and their “Nobody”s don’t sound much alike, or deal with particularly similar themes.)
“But that’s just the internet now,” he adds. “If I fill somebody’s anger quota for the day, then I can be their stress ball. That’s no problem to me. Whatever.”
On one point, though, he won’t yield: “Even if someone had told me earlier, I wouldn’t have changed [the title],” he says. “This is my artwork. ‘Oh shit, somebody already painted the Mona Lisa! Fuck. Guess I’ll just restart.’” He sighs. “It’s kinda crazy to me. But it’s not a big deal.”