By AARON GAGERS
Mackenzie Nicole has got a hot new album and she’s the newest pop sensation.
Mackenzie’s new album, The Edge, is charting and getting the attention of the music business.
But there’s more to this petite powerhouse than what meets the eye. Mackenzie is the face of the pop division of the Strange Music label.
The pop department is called Strange Main — as in mainstream — and Mackenzie, whose brain is as impressive as her appearance, is the face and the power behind the new venture.
‘Different’ Style Album for Mackenzie
“This album is a different style,” Mackenzie said. “The album is part autobiographical. When I’m working on my album, I’m doing more than trying to tell a story, I’m trying to convey a visual scene. I am a writer, but songwriting is limiting. I love music and I love writing and they don’t always come together as we’d like.”
Mackenzie said since she was given the opportunity to be the very first artist on the pop division of the label, she realized she would have to alter her path to fit her surroundings.
“You have to experiment within the confines you’re working with,” she said. “There are a lot of things that are challenging for an artist.”
‘The Edge’ a Process
The Edge has been a great process for Mackenzie, who through working on the album, exorcised a lot of the issues connected to her previous boyfriend.
“The songs are inspired by a number of things in my life,” she said. “All but two of the songs are about one relationship, which is over. This album puts a conclusion on the relationship. It’s an honest place where it was coming from. Writing an album is an emotionally draining experience especially if you suppress your emotions like I do.”
She said through the songs, she came to realize that she needed to move on.
“Even my happy songs have notes where you realize there’s an overtone about how I was over the relationship,” she said. “Like the words, ‘I try my best to just forget about you.’ I was writing the second verse and that was equivalent to ‘You get under my skin but I’m so over you.’
The songwriting process has its ups and downs as well, as was the case for the song “Only With You,” Mackenzie said.
“Sometimes when you create a song you have post-partum depression,” she said. “There was one song on the album I was not happy with. I recorded the entire song again. Then I rewrote the song and I fell in love with it.
Mackenzie: Taking Ownership Back
“‘Only With You'” is about a different narrative, it’s not about that guy,” she said. “I felt like with that song I took some ownership back.”
Mackenzie is touring the album, opening for the famous Tech N9ne, and she’ll be doing some one-offs and summer shows.
“I don’t want to get typecast as the pop princess,” she said. “You can get famous and make a lot of money. If you want to do just your art that’s fine too. I have to pay my dues to the label, but I don’t want to compromise.”
Mackenzie is also looking at licensing opportunities for the pop songs. But for now her focus is getting ready for the tour.
On Tour with Tech N9ne
“My stage presence is really involved,” she said. “I’ve seen many Tech N9ne shows. I’ve seen the mosh pits. I grew up surrounded by the tough guys. Growing up around these guys, when the aspiration is to be a powerful man, it gives you a Desdimona complex. But that being said that translates into stage presence. I tried to compensate because I’m not scary. Finally I was on stage at Red Rocks last year and I felt like I had a moment where I just talked with the audience. And I realized you don’t have to be perfect.”
She said that while she is trying to manage the new aspects of her career, there’s a part of her that can’t plan ahead.
“I can’t think six months out,” she said. “I’ll be honest, I’m in a place right now where I can’t plan. My priority more than anything is feeling happy,” Mackenzie said. “I don’t want to miss out on life that happens. Right now I’m doing music. Maybe five years from now I won’t be. Right now I’m taking it day by day and enjoying every minute.”
April 21 at Minneapolis Armory, Minneapolis, MN
April 27 at Showbox SoDo, Seattle, WA
April 29 at Showbox SoDo, Seattle, WA
May 10 at The Belasco, Los Angeles, CA
May 11 at House of Blues, San Diego, CA
May 13 at The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ
May 18 at House of Blues, Dallas, TX
May 20 at House of Blues, Houston, TX
June 9 at House of Blues, Chicago, IL
June 14 at The Pageant, St. Louis, MO
June 15 at TBD, Kansas City, MO
June 23 at The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO