Q: How would you describe yourself in one word?
Q: Why do you feel music is the ideal profession for you?
While music is not my end goal actually, it is the ideal profession for me right now.
I’ve been working at my label Strange Music my entire life, as it was founded by my parents in the basement of my childhood home. Thus, I spent my childhood on tour with my labelmates, sitting in on meetings with industry executives, helping out around the office and warehouses, etc… This upbringing in tandem with my natural interest in singing (I’ve been classically trained to sing opera since I was six) segued naturally into a career in music that officially began when I was nine with my first recorded feature on the track “Demons” by Tech N9ne featuring Three 6 Mafia. This feature led to several others and, eventually, my career as a solo artist beginning at the age of fifteen. In addition to my work as an artist, I have always worked on the executive side of the label as well, a job that I began taking on more and more in high school. By the time I graduated high school, I was essentially working a full-time job as an artist / executive at Strange Music, so my logical next step was to continue my existing career in music.
Q: What is the response you got from your fans when you released your debut album, The Edge?
My supporters received The Edge with much enthusiasm and kindness. As The Edge is a standard pop album, I consider the album’s release an act of casting a wide net that caught a good portion of our starter fanbase, which we would later expand upon with the release of more unique music like my single “Complications” or album Mystic.
Q: Can you please tell us more about Mystic, the album and short film?
Mystic is a concept album inspired by a lifetime struggle with mental illness that reached a fever pitch during the first six months of 2018 when I suffered an acute mental breakdown that nearly took my life on several occasions and culminated in a breakthrough that led me to start the process of recovery, which included but was certainly not limited to being diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, seeing my psychiatrist at least once a week, beginning a number of psychiatric medications, and reconfiguring virtually my entire lifestyle.
Come Fall of 2018, only a few short months into this ongoing recovery process, I had a responsibility to deliver another album. At a time that I felt my mental breakdown defined me, I had no idea what else I could authentically write about, especially considering I finally had full creative control over my art for the first time. I partnered with my hero, mentor, and producer Michael “Seven” Summers, and, without any outside influence or forced guidelines, we just made the art we wanted to make. After about nine(ish) studio days, we had Mystic. But, Mystic’s origin story doesn’t end there.
I always tell people that I did not create Mystic. The album existed somewhere out there in the universe completely independent of me. I just happened to be the one the universe chose to bring Mystic into the material world. I believe this because of the way Mystic was revealed to me. Though I didn’t set my mind to creating the album until Fall of 2018, I had been receiving visions of different aspects of the album for months beforehand. I have a crude sketch dated January 19, 2018, that depicts a drafted cover for a then unnamed, unplanned album. On said cover is a mystic, her hands on a crystal ball that sits on a table alongside several other symbolic items. What I didn’t know upon the creation of said drawing is that it would eventually grow to represent my greatest achievement. I have a note in my phone from February 16, 2018, that reads “I FOUND THE MYSTIC”. I found this note by accident one day during the creation of the album. When I happened upon it, I didn’t know what it meant when I jotted it down originally, but I knew I had found the name for my album. These are just a couple of examples of how this album was not crafted by me. It was discovered by me.
The biggest and most shocking discovery was the Girl. As I penned each lyric, my intent was to tell my story. So, imagine my surprise when I realized the tale of this album was much bigger than just me. Hidden deep in the album was another person entirely. The universe uncovered her in brief flashes, and, before I knew it, this album was about both of us. She and I are nothing alike. What we do share is the experience of a complete mental break, which we both underwent in our own unique ways. As the album progressed and I learned more about her story, I had one problem — what was I supposed to do with this information? What was I supposed to do with her? The universe gave her to me for a reason, and I knew her story had to be told. For a brief moment, I attempted to expand my songwriting to include her as well, but there was only enough room within the sonic side of the album for me. Distraught, I meditated extensively on how I could incorporate the Girl. Then, it hit me. We still hadn’t begun work on the visuals. Doing a standard performance-based music video for something as serious as Mystic seemed cheap. I had to do something of greater depth. With that, I finally had my vehicle for the Girl.
Slowly but surely, I began to put her story into words. It quickly became apparent to my team and I that the great feat of telling her story could not be accomplished in just two or three videos. It would take every song on the album to express the Girl’s story fully. Furthermore, these would not be “music videos”. These visuals would be twelve narrative installments that would come together to make one greater piece of work — a film. Thus, the Mystic film was born.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I love city exploring. Finding new coffee shops, thrift stores, etc. makes me ridiculously thrilled. Kansas City is kind of a hidden gem full of smaller hidden gems. My goal is to find them all.
Q: Where do you see yourself in three years from now, or where would you like to be?
I just want to be happy.
Q: What do you feel your biggest success has been?
The creation of Mystic is hands down the best and most important thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been more proud of anything in my life.
Q: What is your dream project?
Mystic was my dream project, so I’m still figuring out the next one.
Q: What is coming up next from you?
I have my next release finished, and I’ve recorded multiple songs for the next album. I am so excited. These next releases are not a departure from, but rather, an evolution of the sound of Mystic. My fans (I hate using that term, it makes me feel arrogant) will recognize the Mackenzie Nicole they met in Mystic, but she won’t be without her fair share of character development.
Q: What is the best way to stay up to date with you?
Everything else (including every streaming platform): Mackenzie Nicole