Manic Focus Press Photo

Manic Focus Talks Finding Magic in Music

From an early age, John “Jmac” McCarten, better known as Manic Focus, has had a love for music. As a child, he learned how to play the piano, which grew to be an extremely important part of his life. The knowledge of music theory that the instrument taught him, helped shape the funky and eclectic sound we hear today as Manic Focus.

Although it is a big part of his life, music wasn’t his only passion. When Jmac was just 9 years old, he started experimenting with a kid’s magic kit. As he grew older, his interest in it only grew stronger.

“When I was 18, I got a job at a magic shop at the Mall of America in Minnesota, and that’s where I really honed my sleight of hand skills.” McCarten says, “Being able to perform for a constant stream of tourists at that job was a blessing and really kept me inspired to keep pursuing the art form.”

For McCarten, magic isn’t just something he does in his free time, but an art that he would love to one day be able to introduce to fans as well. They can expect more curation to be included in future headlining shows. Some features of this idea include magic-themed events, accompanied by impressive lasers and of course, bass-heavy bangers.

While he currently resides in Denver, Jmac considers Chicago to be his second home. Just last week, he joined A Hundred Drums, Eprom, and Of The Trees on Rezz’s Spiral tour, where he had a blast playing for a hometown crowd. He was able to showcase many new tunes and covered a wide range of tempos to fit the vibe for the night, including music from his new EP Back From the Future.

As we are just now creeping into the beginning of March, the funkadelic artist has created not one, but two large-scale music projects so far, Coastline Mind Volume I and Back From the Future. The most recent project, Future Flux, is an EP that will be released through Wakaan on Mar. 11th. The exhilarating party tune, “Back from the Future” is really the perfect song that captures the tone for what fans can expect for this EP release.

Inspiration for the single was sparked one night in a hotel room. McCarten needed a high-energy tune to transition between two songs in his Gem and Jam set. While visualizing the crowd’s energy, an idea sparked for him and the fiery single was born.

“I had the festival crowd in mind when creating the tune. I was imagining the crowd reaction as I was making it, and after the performance, I elaborated on the idea.”

When asked how he stays motivated to produce so much music, he gave the credit to not only the fans in this tight-knit community, but to the many other important figures in his life as well. After over a year of no live music due to COVID-19, many artists are realizing just how important crowd interaction and response are for one to stay driven. Having an amazing support system is also key for McCarten when producing. For him, his girlfriend, family, and friends inspire him daily.

“The fans are a huge motivation, as well as my girlfriend Kaylee and my brother Joe,” McCarten told MP3 MAG. Working with other great artists like Borahm Lee and Adam Deitch (Break Science), Chris Karns, and many more also keeps me inspired. And I definitely have a ton more music to release this year! I have a single with the homie Kruza Kid coming out after the Wakaan EP, and several other collabs I’m hoping to drop this year.”

Both Coastline Mind Volume I and Back From the Future are just the tip of the iceberg for what Manic Focus has in store for fans this year. With festival season approaching full speed ahead, he is already booked on many major lineups, including Okeechobee, Summer Camp, and Arise. With so many festivals happening in a close time frame, one can begin to wonder how an artist is able to specifically curate their set so fans get a different experience each time. When asked this question, McCarten gave the perfect answer.

“I’m constantly creating new songs, remixes, and edits for my sets. I’m also creating music in a wide range of tempos. I play a ton of unreleased music in my sets, and I really love being able to experiment with different styles and genres in a live setting and learning more about my fans with each performance.”

Manic Focus finds a way to mix both talent and musicianship to create a unique persona that is unforgettable to fans all over. With many more shows, festivals, and new music coming out soon, it is easy to say that we are excited to see what kind of groove he has in store for the rest of 2022.

Ashley is a founding member of the MP3 MAG team, as well as a recent Florida State University graduate. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, where she has been immersed into the electronic music community and discovered her passion for music journalism. Her favorite hobbies include going to concerts, music festivals and traveling.