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Macario de Souza… The Bra’s Rising Star

By James Hutton on March 3, 2013 in People

Photo: Andrew Goldie (

During the month The Beast caught up with one of Maroubra’s favourite sons; musician and filmmaker Macario de Souza…

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Sydney to Brazilian parents who migrated over to Australia in the 1970s. I grew up a little suburb called Hillsdale, about two kilometres back from Maroubra Beach and I’ve been back and forth between Hillsdale and the beach ever since.

Were your folks the first Brazilians in Maroubra?
They probably were among the first Brazilians in this community. There were a lot of South Americans but not so many Brazilians and now it’s like a mini Florianopolis here.

Where are you living these days? Are you still in Maroubra?
It’s come full circle actually. Hillsdale was known as a bit of a ghetto back in the day and I remember that as a kid all I wanted to do was get out of there and be closer to the ocean. I was lucky enough to be able to finally afford to rent up at Lurline Bay with my mate Mark Mathews. I lived with him for about six years but I wanted to buy a place. I finally bought a place but it’s back in the ‘hood I always wanted out of. Nowadays the place is full of young couples and families so it’s a great vibe. And making it even sweeter, I bought the apartment upstairs from my parents so I’m back to the same block that I grew up in as a kid.

What do you love about living in the Eastern Suburbs?
I’ve travelled the world and everywhere I’ve been to I’ve enjoyed but there’s nothing like home. It’s got a real a community vibe, especially here in Maroubra. It’s just an awesome place and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Is there anything you don’t like about living in the Eastern Suburbs?
I guess traffic sucks at times, and trying and get waves at times can be annoying. You’ve got some wankers around town but you’re going to get that anywhere. It’s got its good and its bad, I guess. I can’t bag it too much.

What was it like as a young bloke growing up in and around Maroubra? Was it as tough as it’s often made out to be?
Personally, I had no dramas. Just like anywhere, if you went out looking for trouble you could find it pretty quickly but if you cruised about minding your own business, life was good. I think the older generation of Bra Boys were the ones that had to face all the trouble in the 80s and 90s and gave the Bra Boys its fearless reputation both in and out of the water. Unfortunately a lot of them came from broken homes and it was an era where they had to bond together and fend for themselves, which would’ve been very hard for anyone. Fortunately for a lot of my generation – blokes like myself, Richie Vaculik, John Sutton, Reni Maitua and Mark Mathews – we all came from homes where our parents were still together and we had strong father figures in our lives. All we did growing up was chase girls and waves and have a good time, so I think we had it easy compared to the older boys.

Why do you think you and your mates have been able to pull together and do so well?
I think it’s a combination of a few things. I think the best thing that we got out of Maroubra and the older guys like the Abbertons, Johnny Gannon, Jack Kingsley and Frog was that they always taught us that mongrel attitude. It was so competitive here. Anything from a game of touch footy on the beach to boxing in someone’s backyard, you’d want to kill the other person. When it came to waves, boardriders, dance offs, skolling beers, you wanted to do it to the best of your capabilities. I think that translated over to everything that we channelled our focus towards. And for me personally, my dad’s just the hardest working person I’ve ever met. That working class Brazilian work ethic got passed down to me. I think all that combined just made us hungry and meant we never took no for an answer.

What do your folks do for work?
My dad’s a dental technician and my mum used to be a primary school teacher back in Brazil before raising three kids. Now she looks after the grandkids.

The Bra Boys get a pretty bad wrap; do you think they deserve it or is it just a few bad seeds and a few incidents that get a lot more media hype because they’re Bra Boy related?
It’s just like any other area or any other group of guys. There are so many people that someone’s bound to play up and because of the whole stigma of the Bra Boys it’s always going to get beaten up by the media. But in saying that, and I’m guilty of it too, growing up as teenagers we did a lot of stupid things, but that’s just part of growing up. For me the stigma has been like a dark cloud over my head with little things like trying to get radio play or secure gigs at certain venues or even get funding for films. It can definitely work against you but I chose to get the tattoo, I chose to put my hand up and say I’m part of this community and I am proud of it, so any flack I cop, I have to just cop it on the chin. Everyone makes mistakes. I am no exception. No one should be defined by their mistakes, it’s how we learn from these mistakes and move onwards and upwards that make us who we are. I just try to lead by example and keep my head down, work my arse off and prove the people wrong who butt heads with that stigma and try to inspire the next generation with my actions.

Do you think the Bra Boys movie has been better for the Bra Boys’ reputation or worse?
I think people who didn’t know about the Bra Boys definitely know about them now after the film went all over the world. I also think a lot of young kids took the wrong messages out of the film and thought you had to go out there and be staunch for no reason. This was one of my inspirations for wanting to make Fighting Fear and clarify what it is to transition yourself from a teenage person to a man and surround yourself with positive people. But I also think the film had some great messages with the whole brotherhood theme, supporting each other and the community vibe. You don’t get that everywhere in the world and we will always stand behind that one hundred percent.

Were you a troublemaker as a young bloke?
I wouldn’t say I was a troublemaker. I was just a cheeky little prick, I guess. It’s tricky because I was always focused at school and I ended up being the school captain of both my primary school and high school, but I always got in trouble for little cheeky things then somehow got off. When I was about 17 or 18, towards the end of high school, I did some stupid things that got me into a lot of trouble with the law and it was kind of two incidents really that stuck out. One was when we were drinking down here at the end of Maroubra Beach. It was just before our HSC exams and they were doing work on the promenade. They had all these tractors and steamrollers lined up and we were drinking in the arvo and then the night came and one of the young grommets had stolen one of the tractor keys. After a couple of longnecks I was the one that hopped on with the keys and started up a tractor. We drove a couple of them all the way down to the south end and we were playing gladiator with them, smashing them up against each other, and then I tipped one. The whole cage was about to fall on me – and it would have killed me instantly – but I just about got away from it before it caught the back of my heel. I remember passing out from the pain and waking up in a hospital with cops and my family around me and I was like, “What the f**k’s happening?”

You said there were two incidents, what was the other one?
Well I spent about a month in hospital with the heel injury and did half of my HSC exams in hospital and half at home. When the exams finished it was time for celebration drinks. I went straight back to where the other incident started down at the promenade. It was sunny summer day and I probably only had two or three beers but I’d been on morphine for about two months straight so I was instantly drunk and I felt crook. I got in my car and started heading back home and I don’t know why I did it but I ran a red light and as I did a car came out from an adjacent street and t boned me into oncoming traffic. I cleaned up about six cars and caused the biggest pile on. I ended up getting arrested for drink driving and locked up and my dad had to come and bail me out of Mascot Police Station. He wasn’t happy at all. It was the most frightening scene of my life. It wasn’t the police I was afraid of, it was disappointed look on my dad’s face – it said it all. He had to fork out for all the fines and about $38,000 of damages. It took me about 12 years to pay my dad back, he made me pay every cent back to teach me a lesson and it was the best lesson I’ve ever learnt. From that moment I was like, “I’m never going to get into trouble, I can’t put my parents through any more hell.” Since then I didn’t want to outdo the boys on the drink anymore. I just decided to take a back seat and make something of myself from then on.

Is it fair to say that neither incident would have happened had you not been on the booze?
Guaranteed. The alcohol definitely clouded my judgment and fuelled it. People close to me say that I’m the typical Gemini with two personalities. You’ve got sober me, who is focused and a bit of a stiff, and then after a few drinks I’m the class clown. The alcohol can definitely bring the devil out in everyone.

Do you reckon you would have had the success that you’ve had so far in your life if it wasn’t for those incidents giving you a bit of a wake up call?
I don’t think I would have because I was always a crowd pleaser and trying to make everyone laugh by doing stupid shit and had I got away with those things something would have happened. I would have either hurt myself even worse or killed myself, or ended up in jail for something stupid. It wasn’t that I was a menace, I was just trying to make people laugh. I’m glad I got it out of my system and got to turn my life around and be focused.

When did you discover your love for film and music?
Growing up I was into expressing my creativity and drawing and messing around with computers but one time my sister came home from a trip to the US and she’d bought a video camera over there. I stole it from her room when she was out and started shooting the boys surfing and trying to imitate Taylor Steele and it just snowballed from there really. I figured that the surf footage needed some music to go with it and I had a big passion for hip hop so I started sampling beats and making beats and writing songs for my short films. But it wasn’t until I went to uni and studied fine arts that I really honed in on the art of film making and music production. During my second year of uni we started working on the Bra Boys movie and the rest is history.

Do you think your naivety as a second year uni student helped to make Bra Boys the success that it became?
Yeah, to some extent. We were literally just a bunch of amateur film makers sitting on a golden story and it was up to us to mess it up. But I think Sunny Abberton (the director) did have a very clear vision of what he wanted to portray and my job was to help him realise that. The team involved, including producer Michael Lawrence, were all very creative and talented but we never expected too much. And having now done my second feature film and actually being even more focused and trying so hard for it to be so successful and seeing how hard it is to actually do that, it makes me think that the whole naivety of what we did back then probably worked in our favour.

It went on to be the highest grossing documentary in Australian history, didn’t it?
Yeah, it still is. It was always meant to be a little surf film for the surf industry but we thought we’d take it to a mainstream audience and add some elements to it that relate to a bigger audience and next thing we knew the majority of Australia had gone and seen it in cinemas.

If you had to choose between film and music, which would you choose?
Mate, I don’t know. I get asked this question all the time and I give a different answer every time, I think. At the moment I love performing on stage and touring and creating music. It’s been my number one passion and if I had it my way I probably would do that for the next couple of years because I think film making is one of those things you can always come back to. When you’re older and wiser it probably works in your favour as far as your craft and your storytelling is concerned. In saying that though, after winning a couple of gongs at the AACTAs I think that only inspires you to try and outdo yourself so I’m sort of back in that bubble where I want to make another film now.

You’re recently engaged, how does your missus feel about you being a rock star?
I don’t know about being a rock star but she’s good, man. She’s been my sidekick for six years now so she was there when I was playing in front of crowds of twelve friends and she’s been there to watch it grow. She has had her little issues with groupies in the past but none of that nonsense bothers her.

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played to?
Probably some of the festivals or the American tour I did with Mickey Avalon. There were probably about 1,200 people at the most. It wasn’t absolutely crazy but it was still pretty amazing having 1,200 people eating out of the palm of your hand.

Can you describe the feeling when you look out in the audience and they’re singing along with you or singing back to your lyrics?
It’s dead set the best feeling in the world. Having people sing your songs and jump up and down to something that you put your heart and soul into; there is no drug that can take you higher. It’s addictive.

You were awarded with two AACTA Awards recently for best direction and best cinematography in a documentary for Fighting Fear; does it feel good to be recognised for all your hard work?
Definitely. With the first film we were never under the radar of, you know, the Academy or even the sort of government bodies which is kind of bizarre, you know, seeing as it did so well and we sort of hit those governing bodies for funding for ‘Fighting Fear’ and that fell through. So we always just felt like for the rest of our careers we were always going to be outside of that little secret society and sort of guerrilla film making forever. So to be recognised just feels like you’re now on their radar and it’s exactly where I need to be, for my career and I just I couldn’t be more stoked and honoured to be able to have these gongs at the age that I am now. I think it’s a good set up for the future for sure. And I’m blessed to have an amazing team around me who continue to believe in my craft. Guys like Mick Lawrence, Nick Cook and Sue Masters have played major roles in all of this and I am very grateful.

Who’s the best phone number you’ve got in your mobile that’s come from your success? Have you got Russell Crowe on speed dial?
Not on speed dial. He’s a pretty tricky man to get hold of, actually. There’s usually a few messages back and forth especially after a good Rabbitohs win. I guess it is pretty cool to be a phone call away from people whose work you grew up admiring, people like Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Mick Fanning, Taylor Steele, Peter Morrissey, Mickey Avalon and Moi (from the mini market shop down Maroubra).

Have you got any aspirations to make the leap over to non documentary style dramatic features?
I definitely want to make that the next leap from here. My dream and goal is to definitely step into drama and work with actors and make a feature and that’s what I’m working towards now. So if there is anyone reading this with some pull in funding films, help a brother out and contact me please. I only need a couple of millions dollars to make it happen!

At the moment you’re working on a television project with Richie Vaculik and Mark Matthews, who you did Fighting Fear with; can you tell us a bit about that?
We had the idea when we were shooting Fighting Fear. Towards the end of the production, with everything that was unfolding as we were shooting the film, we thought it would make a cool little story itself so we had cameras follow us as a behind the scenes shoot. We had so much cool footage we thought we should try to put a little show together. It was almost like an Aussie version of Entourage without the bullshit, just as real as you could get, and from that idea stemmed this show called The Crew. We pitched it to everyone and they all knocked it back, including all the free to air networks, so we went to Fuel TV, they loved it and all of a sudden the free to air networks loved it too, which is always the case. But we went with the first network that trusted in us and that was Fuel. It started on February 10 and it’s on every Sunday night at 9pm. There are ten episodes and I think Fuel are pretty psyched on a second season already, which is sick.

You’ve already put out an album and an EP; when can we expect your sophomore album?
I’m just starting to work on the second record now. The aim is to push it out probably just before the start of the next summer, maybe October or November this year. I really want to push out an album every year for the next three or four years to keep giving punters new material, grow the fan base and also grow as a musician with every release. I like on the idea of trying to outdo the debut record with an even better sophomore record. Let’s hope it all goes to plan!

Do you have anything else coming up in the pipeline?
No, just a wedding, that’s about it. That’s probably the biggest project I’ve got in my life.

Do you have a career highlight thus far?
I’d say winning the two AACTAs this year has definitely got to be up there. The fact that I was stuck in Queensland because of the cyclones and couldn’t make it back in time for the awards was a bit shithouse though. And winning artist of the year at the MusicOz Awards last year was awesome too.

Do you support any charities?
I was involved in an event recently with the Black Dog Institute and that’s something I’m pretty keen to get behind. And I’ve been doing some stuff locally with The Shack Youth Services, working with some kids on some music programs; that is something I’d like to do more of when time allows.

Do you have any advice for youngsters looking to make a career out of either music or film?
I would say if you feel like it’s something you want to pursue, start it as early as you can because it’s definitely going to benefit you. It’s definitely not easy, so don’t despair. You’ve got to keep your head down and almost break away from the pack and just make it your life. Just get up off your arse, give it a crack and see where it leads you.

Being the busy bloke that you are, do you get out for a surf much these days?
Not as much as I’d like to and that’s probably why I’m still a kook. I’ve just sort of started getting back into it a lot more though. It’s a perfect kind of getaway and outlet – trips down the coast, to Bali, whatever. I try to surf as much as I can but that’s not nearly as much as I want to.

In an ideal world what does the future hold for Macario De Souza?
Ideally I’d just like to keep pushing the whole music thing and build it to a point where, I’ll be frank, it buys me a house. I grew up in this tiny little unit and I’m back in that tiny little unit and all I ever wanted was to own a bit of dirt. I want to have three kids, a dog, a big backyard and a pool, and until I get there I’m not going to rest. Whether it’s the music thing or a blockbuster film that gets me there, I’ll keep pursuing it until we have that bit of dirt.

Will that bit of dirt be in Maroubra?
Mate, as long as it’s in the Eastern Suburbs I’ll be happy. I’m happy to go to Matraville, Randwick, Clovelly, wherever. As long as I’m no more than a couple of kilometres from the ocean I’ll be happy.