Manic Focus is the electronic music project of John “JmaC” McCarten, a Denver-based producer with roots in funk, soul, and new-era hip-hop. A multi-dimensional artist with a rowdy style that spans multiple genres, Manic Focus transcends sound waves by fusing soulful blues with heavy-hitting bass, creating a resonating tone that’s entirely his own.
His newest album LOST IN A DIGITAL WORLD was released on September 12th. Check it out here-
Recent live highlights include performances at Lollapalooza, High Sierra Music Festival, Camp Bisco and Summer Camp Music Festival in 2019. Previous performances of note include Electric Forest, Suwannee Hulaween, Bassnectar’s NYE360, The Gorge Amphitheater in WA and Red Rocks Amphitheater in CO supporting Pretty Lights.
His brand new collection, Lost in a Digital World features 100% original, sample-free material and live instrumentation from McCarten, further cementing himself in the upper echelon of producers and bringing his music to a wider audience spanning across multiple genres. The LP also includes appearances from Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic), Protohype, Russ Liquid, Borahm Lee (Pretty Lights Music/Break Science) and Psalm One, to name a few from the eclectic lineup.
Connect with Manic Focus Here- Website
Learn more about Manic Focus in the following All Access interview-
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you?
2019 has been great! I’ve been fortunate enough to play some really awesome shows and festivals this year, as well as collaborate with some of my favorite artists on new music. I also released an album this year that I’m very proud of.
What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year?
Releasing my album was the main goal I had this year. The last album I released was in 2017, so I was really excited to put out a new body of work this year with some really cool collaborations. I was able to experiment with a variety of new production techniques and work with some really talented instrumentalists in New Orleans.
What are you already looking forward to in 2020?
We’re currently working on a tour schedule for the Winter/Spring. I’ll be touring with a really talented, new bass music artist that I’m a really big fan of. I’m also excited to put out some more original content, potentially on one of my favorite labels.
How did you come up with your artist name? Why didn’t you decide to go by your own name?
We wanted to come up with a cool artist name because I think it’s more fun to use an alter ego when creating a musical project than using my own name. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar I, music is sort of the way I focus my wild, creative energy. Creating music has always been a tool for me to manage my moods and mental illness.
Growing up, how important was music in your life?
Music has always been very important in my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was five until I was fourteen. In high school, I started making electronic music, and then transitioned into making hip-hop beats. I didn’t pursue music education in college, but I was always producing music as a hobby. Music has always been a very important outlet for me.
Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician?
I decided to quit my job and pursue music professionally in 2011. I moved to Chicago and started playing as many gigs as I could get, producing as much music as possible.
Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
At the time, is seemed as though my college education was not going to get me into any particular field that I was passionate about, so making the choice to jump into music full time was a decision I was confident in. It wasn’t easy by any means, but I felt that if I didn’t jump in at that moment, I would regret it in the future.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else?
I considered being a professional magician for a little while. I even had business cards printed and a website domain purchased. I had done a few gigs at dinner parties and other places.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I’ve been learning a little coding, and I could see myself pursuing this field further. I also like video editing. As long as the field is creative in some way, I think I would find it fulfilling.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career?
Being able to work with some world class musicians and share the stage with some of my biggest musical influences has been a dream come true.
Let’s talk about your newest album, “Lost In A Digital World” that was released just last month. What was it like putting this collection together? How long did it take?
I had a lot of fun making this album. I started working on it early 2018 at home and then I scheduled some studio sessions in New Orleans and Neutral Sound Studio where I recorded a lot of live instrumentation.
I know it’s hard to pick favorites, but can you pick out a few memorable songs on this album and talk about their inspiration and how they got to be on this album?
“Special” was a really cool song to make. Chrishira Perrier was incredibly fun and easy to work with, and she brought some real magic to the track. Her daughter Starr also provided vocals and harmonized them as well, which was really impressive. That song went through a variety of iterations. The final version, instrumental wise, is very different from where it started.
What has been a favorite show of yours so far on this current tour?
I can’t pick a favorite. Every city has been awesome for different reasons. Fans react differently in each city I’ve been to.
What do you think makes an ideal show for you?
A packed house with great sound, strong bass, and a great LD is my ideal show.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
Touring has certainly helped me get a better feel for how to construct stronger sets, and produce better music. I’ve also gained a stronger sense of attention spans in regards to my style of dance music, and how frequently I need to switch up the sounds in order to keep the crowd engaged and excited.
What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
I still produce with a hip-hop beat making mentality, working in 4-8 bar loops and working with mostly breakbeats.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career?
I think social media is important, and very powerful for promoting music and shows. When it comes to interacting with fans simultaneously across the globe, it’s the strongest tool.
What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’d love to work with Atmosphere, Moby, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Eminem and Ludacris, to name a few.
If you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
It would be a VR experience of some sort, not sure on the specifics.
What has been the best thing a fan has told you? What comment from a fan has truly moved you?
When a fan tells me that my music saved their life, that’s always a really powerful moment. I know my music has saved my life, so for it to have the same effect on a total stranger is really moving to me. I hope my music can help people who struggle with depression and mental illness.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Grand Theft Auto V or any video game.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people really enjoy the music and are stoked to share it with friends. I hope they enjoy the ride.