Mackenzie Nicole Talks With TMI About the Independent Grind Tour & Her debut album
Your new album, “THE EDGE” has gotten an amazing reaction from your supporters. What has been your thought about the reaction of the album?
I’m very fortunate to have the fanbase that I have so early in my career. I have some fans that have been following me for 10 years now since my first features with Tech N9ne, and I have fans that had never heard of me until “Preview” hit Top 40 radio, and the fact that they’ve all really embraced this album is really exciting and leaves me even more enthused to start releasing more music. The Edge is my debut album, and as I always say, the “debut album” is not necessarily the “dream album”. What I mean by that is while The Edge is a great foundation, it’s a long way from my full potential as an artist. If my fans love The Edge, then I can’t wait to see what they think of what’s coming next.
How did the idea for this album come about?
The Edge came about less as an idea and more as an effort; essentially, this album is an attempt at making a proper, “by the book” pop record with a twist. With this album, we wanted to cast a wide net and really connect with a broad base of people, and as I said in my previous answer, I feel that was done successfully. That’s what’s interesting about pop music — the way it connects with such a diverse cast of people from all walks of life. That’s the purpose this album serves.
Can you tell us the meaning behind the name “THE EDGE” ?
This is my debut album, so in naming it, I thought, “How do I introduce myself? What is my foremost prominent quality? What’s the first thing my listeners should know about me?”
The answer to these questions was obvious — the most important thing to know about me is that I am a very extreme person. My entire personality and life is a patchwork of intense extremes. I am either horrendously depressed or ridiculously manic, sobbing hysterically or laughing hysterically with no in between. I feel like I’m always pushing the envelope, pushing things as close to the edge as I possibly can before falling off. And, sometimes, I venture too close to the edge and do fall off. Those moments are in the album too. This album expresses a lot of what it’s like to live with that personality.
Any fun moments while creating the album?
My co-writer Jordan and I drove like over an hour and a half round trip every day to go get boba tea. Every. Single. Day. We spent most the rides bickering and listening to music. It became a little routine.
What’s the process of writing one of your songs?
Writing is incredibly important to me, and this album was my first experience co-writing, which was definitely a unique learning experience that was really valuable to me. I love having full creative control at the end of the day though, so going forth I plan on doing like 99.9% of the writing of my music because it’s so important to me. With that being said, I don’t really have a writing process. I’ll jot down or record random phrases and melodies that I think of throughout my day to day. Then, when I collaborate with a producer and they give me a beat, I just feel out the vibe of the song and write whatever the music is telling me to say, supplementing with those aforementioned phrases and melodies when needed.
What’s been you favorite song to write and why?
My favorite track I’ve written isn’t actually on the proper album. It was the preorder bonus track, “Burn”. I wrote “Burn” back in 2014, recorded it in 2015, then rerecorded it in 2017 to fit into the sonic context of the album. This song was such a milestone for me because it was the first time that I as a solo artist really crafted a song from scratch. It was my first time recording a song entirely written by me, for me, and it’s like my firstborn child. It’s poetry. It’s the best-written Mackenzie Nicole song out.
You’ve been touring a lot this year, how do you prepare to go out on the road?
Travel light and keep a suitcase packed! Seriously, I keep a suitcase in my bedroom fully stocked and ready to go out on the road at all times, all I have to do is throw in some stage clothes and go.
Aside from that, the most important way to prepare to go out on the road is making sure that I spend time with my family before I go. I have a six-year-old brother, and I am terrified I’m going to miss out on his childhood. There will be some stretches where I go six months without spending more than five days home at a time. I have to spend time with him when I am in town so I don’t miss out. I try to make a point of working from home when I can just to get some extra time in with my family.
What’s your favorite part about tour?
Visiting new places! I love to travel, and nothing is better than hopping off a plane, exploring a new city, and ending the night performing alongside my family at Strange Music.
What song are you most excited to perform from this new album?
The title track “The Edge” is probably the most emotional part of my performance. There’s a photo from me on the last tour performing this song with tears streaming down my face. People really respond to this song, and that’s always beautiful to me.
What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your supporters?
A song starts as a thought in my head, then is written on paper, then is recorded as music, then is distributed as a product, then is purchased as art, then is sung back to me by fans at concerts. That process is surreal! To hear your own thoughts sung at you from a crowd of strangers is very meta and weird but also extremely cool.
Does your fanbase have a name?
This term actually started internally at Strange. I had a small core team of like 5-10 people that were really on the front lines of creating this album, and we had a group message for organizing projects. Everybody calls me Mack, and one day, one of my team members (Kerry, the head of our video department) took the liberty of naming that group message “Mack Mob”. I fell in love. It’s perfect for me. It’s very The Godfather, like I run my own little branch of the mafia. I started using the term, and the fans really took to it.
How do you want your relationship to be with your supporters?
Fans are friends. Seriously. I’m very casual with my supporters. Some of my close friends actually started as fans that I just built relationships with. It’s the Golden Rule — I treat my supporters like they treat me, with love and respect.
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
God, I have a few. My fans can be wild, ahaha! I’ll narrow it down to two.
Firstly, there is a man who has my face tattooed on his hand. That’s insane! My face is now on a body that’s not mine. And, it’s his whole hand! That’s not an easy cover-up job dude, that tat is there forever.
Second, I had this really bizarre experience a few years ago back in 2016 when I only had two singles out. I had been talking to fans out at the merch table at a concert I was playing, and as I turned to walk away, a girl in her twenties walks up to me (I’ll leave her name out of this to respect her privacy). She says, “Hey, Mackenzie, my name is ______, and your music saved my life.” Just like that. She said it in a voice so certain, as if my music saving her life was just a matter of fact, a concrete aspect of her biography. It was so unreal to me. A human being is alive because of my music. That’s life-changing for her and for me.
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your supporters?
I try to use all platforms equally in unique ways to stay connected with as many people as possible.
Facebook: Mackenzie Nicole
Everywhere else, including every streaming platform: Mackenzie Nicole
What’s an average day for you look like?
With a travel schedule and career like mine, there really is no such thing as an average day. Some days I’m at the office working from my cubicle from 8am to 9pm. Some days I work from home while watching scary movies with my mom. Some days I fly into some city halfway across the country and only stay long enough to play a concert and fly back. The only constants in my life are coffee and yoga.
How has this whole music career experience been for you?
It’s hard to say what this has been like for me because in many ways my entire life has been a music career experience. This record label started in the basement of my childhood home. My entire childhood was spent following tours and sitting in on meetings with industry execs. My first professional feature was at 9 years old. I don’t know anything else. However, even with all that said, it’s impossible to just “get used to it”. Every day is dynamic and strange because the music industry is dynamic and strange. I love it.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
I love you guys so much!!!!!!!!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us.
Thank you! I love your questions, this was fun (: