Blake Mcdonald - Boston Switch
How’s a longhaired kid from Margaret River end up pumping out the jams on a Greek Island?
The short answer is a good story, but the longish one’s even better.
As a kid Blake Mcdonald was not that different to any other surf obsessed kid in town, pumped to surf all day every day with an eye to landing a sponsorship and the keys to a career as a pro surfer.
“It was all about the comps when I was young,” says Mcdonald via a patchy FaceTime hook-up from Pitstop Hill in the Mentawais.
“All my mates were the same, we’d just be frothing out on beating each other. But over the course of a couple years the energy started to shift away from the comp scene and I gravitated towards the music scene. There was no major catalyst, it just seemed to happen that way.”
But it wasn’t just any old music that got Mcdonalds’ toe a tappin’; he’d gravitated towards a form of music born a long way from his quaint little country town.
“I was always open to all sorts of music as a kid but I guess what you’d call “dance” music really resonated with me,” Mcdonald recalls.
“I love a good rock song, but I found dance allowed me to get right in and create for hours and hours and at the end of it, I had a party ready to go.”
Mcdonald poured the same enthusiasm he’d directed at competitive surfing into being a DJ and set about setting and knocking off goals as a way of making his mark and breaking into the scene, no mean feat given where he lives.
And so it began, playing regional gigs, friends’ parties, birthdays and literally everything in between till his hard work started to pay off and he was added to the bill of Southbound, the premier summer music festival in regional WA.
“That was nuts,’’ Mcdonald recalled of the spot and the crowd at the festival.
“All the hard work just payed off in that one set and it was just a dream come true.”
The gig gave Mcdonald his clearest indication that he was on the right track, yet one more added bonus was headed his way- he signed on as a “Surfing tour guide” at Pitstop Hill in the Mentawais, a position he still coverts and one which serves as the perfect balance to the heady world of music festivals.
“At least two months out of every year I’m over there and it’s just pure surfing,” he says.
“I don’t drink while I’m there and really make an effort to eat healthy so when it’s done, I’m charged up and ready to get back on the tour bus.”
There was the odd hiccup along the way, including his mum being diagnosed with breast cancer (which thankfully she beat) and the usual setbacks afforded to every up and comer.
But this is where Mcdonald has chosen to zig where others zag.
“Mum’s illness had a massive impact on my outlook on life and if anything it steered me in the direction of looking at anything you’d deem a negative experience in a positive light,’’ he says.
“I’ve found it lets me move on from things faster instead of dwelling on it and wasting energy.”
He’s also made sure to soak in any advice handed down from seasoned performers like Kid Mac, who he regularly supports on tour.
“That’s such an important part of succeeding; listening,”
“You can learn so much by listening, especially to the guys you look up to. Offer to help, carry things and just be open to their advice.”
But key to it all is, no, not having fun, but working bloody hard.
“It’s almost a cliché, but if you can just figure out what it is you want to do in life that’s half the battle,’’ says Mcdonald.
“From there it’s up to you. Even if you’re naturally gifted at something, and I think surfing’s a good example of this, your talent is only going to get you so far. You’ve just got to work, work, work and put yourself out there.”
Which leads to the current day and Mcdonald on the eve of a stint as resident DJ on the Greek island of Ios, a little joint which, according to its website, is the “Number One Party Island in Greece”.
“That came about after a friend of mine, Shannon O’Connor met a guy called Alex Longden who’d just opened a club on the island,” says Mcdonald.
“Long story short, Shannon got a residency there and passed on my press pack to Alex. We had a meeting and that led to that. I’m pretty amped, I’ve never been anywhere overseas other than Indo.”
Assuming Greece doesn’t self-combust under the strain of the financial crisis it’s currently facing, Blake will find himself soaking in the Mediterranean sun in a little under two weeks.
“You bet I’m excited,’’ he says.
“The furthest from Australia I’ve been is Indo. This is a whole new level.”
You can find Blake online at these locations:
Posted by: Anthony Pancia, on July 9, 2015
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