The first time I was properly introduced to the music of Torres (AKA Mackenzie Scott) was at a showcase during last year’s SXSW. On this particular evening I was standing behind a woman whose ponytail was dangerously close to being inside my drink, but I didn’t even have time to be fully annoyed because within minutes, after casually taking the stage with all the comfort of someone going to grab something out of the fridge, Scott musically beheaded every last person standing before her in that room. It only took a few notes and we were there, together, collectively gushing.
Since then Torres has signed with Partisan records, and will be releasing her second album, Sprinter, on May 5 (US) and May 18 (UK). Talking to her a bit about her recent tornado of successes, she seems to be taking things one step at a time in a concentrated effort towards getting where she wants to go, musically and creatively. And she’s allowing herself to enjoy it as much as possible.
“Regardless of personal fulfillment, it’s all relative in comparison. More and more I find myself using my heroes’ career trajectories to gauge where I should ‘be,’ which I think can be dangerous,” Scott says. “That’s a constant battle for me. I compare my tiny triumphs and humiliations to the ones they were having at my age to keep perspective, so I suppose it can also be healthy to a certain extent, if it’s fueling me to work harder or keeping me grounded in some way.”
One of Scott’s many musical strengths lies in her ability to analyze the world around her. The same introspective eye that she uses to check herself and her road of accomplishments, she also uses as a sharp, dissecting tool for her songwriting, resulting in lyrics that “go there” such as in the track we’re sharing with you today, “Strange Hellos” off of her upcoming album.
In “Strange Hellos” Scott sings:
“I was all for being real
But if I don’t believe then no one will
What’s mine isn’t really yours
But I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
The song itself, which starts out as a finger dipped in honey challenging the listener to come closer for a lick, turns into an open handed slap in the face that you not only don’t mind, but hope keeps happening. And it does. The song, like the rest of the album, doesn’t let go of your shoulders until all the feels have been felt and you’re left with that worn body feeling you get after swimming in the ocean for a few hours. Soft, salty, and spent.
Pushing away from the collective culture of distance that we’re all self-imprisoned in by choosing laptops over nights out and rejected calls over therapeutic convos with friends we’d rather know online than in real life, Scott forgoes comfort for experience.
“I think that technology and other modern distractions have conditioned us, as a culture, to remain as comfortable as possible at all times,” Scott says. “It’s become socially acceptable, expected, even, to prioritize personal convenience above all else, and we have the tools to hide as much (or as little) as we want … accountability is scarce—we feel guilty, but not that guilty.”
Don’t be guilty of missing Torres on the road during SXSW. Here’s where you can catch her in the upcoming weeks: