TORRES - Mackenzie Scott on “Sprinter”

Rebirth

Jun 19, 2015 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala
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When Mackenzie Scott spoke with Under the Radar last summer about the prospect of following up her 2013 debut, released under the pseudonym TORRES, she talked about the term "confessional" as it was used to describe the oft-times soft and introspective nature of her debut. "Sometimes I wish I would get maybe a Kurt Cobain or Johnny Cash comparison," she said. With her sophomore album, Sprinter, Scott very well may get her wish. Songs like "New Skin," "The Harshest Light," and most notably the album's first single and opening track, "Strange Hellos"a soft-to-loud ball of fury that finds Scott wailing, "If I don't believe, then no one will"are in stark contrast to much of the material on TORRES.

"Haha, thanks," says Scott, almost dismissively, when confronted with the extent to which she seems to rage on Sprinter, an album that will surely dispel any notion of Scott as the "confessional" songwriter type.

Scott recorded Sprinter in two weeks with co-producer Rob Ellis in an abandoned former children's nursery in Dorset, England, and in Bristol with Portishead's Adrian Utley, who provided guitar and synth while Ellis and Ian Olliver, of PJ Harvey's Dry band, provided drums and bass, respectively. Sonically, the album reflects the cosmic headspace that Scott was in when envisioning arrangements for these songs in her Brooklyn apartment. The album is dynamic, it shudders, it wails, and it benefits from arrangements that are both nuanced and even playful in turns. Lyrically, Scott seems more mysterious, more cryptic perhaps, all while employing vivid imagery: of nature, the sea, and the sun.

"I think I'm still spilling my guts a good deal, but I didn't want the whole record to be about that," says Scott, who was born and raised in Macon, Georgia and wrote her first album while a student at Belmont University before moving to Brooklyn in late 2013. "So many of the themes on this record are more abstract, a little more undefinable than on the first record, and I think that necessitates maybe a simpler lyric. Because otherwise, I feel like I would really be all over the place."

She still knows how to cut deep, though. The album's closing track, "The Exchange," is a hushed, nearly eight-minute existential rumination dealing with the fact that both Scott and the mother who raised her are adopted.    

"I've had more feelings arise about my adoption as I've gotten older," says Scott. "Which I guess is to be expected, but I didn't expect it. As you get older, you just start thinking about more things that you never would have considered as a child. There have been some questions that have arisen for me, about basic things, like my genetic history, my family history of mental and physical health, just questions that arise steadily as you encounter more adult issues in life."

When asked whether her adoptive mother has heard the song yet, Scott says no. "If I thought it was going to hurt her, I never would have written it or put it on the record. My mom has given me her blessing to speak about her adoption, so I'm hoping that this song will be more than anything just a letter to my mom, a letter to my parents."

"God forbid I upset my mom," Scott adds, laughing. "I've never done that before."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's April/May 2015 print issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

(www.torrestorrestorres.com)

 

 



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