Wespoke to Brooklyn-via-Nashville songwriter Mackenzie Scott aka TORRES, ahead of the release of her New LP Sprinter. The new album is a masterful piece of songwriting and we tackle some of the ideas that lay behind the haunting atmosphere created both sonically and lyrically…
What was recording an album in abandoned nursery in Dorset like?
Rob Ellis who produced the album with me is the one that found the nursery. He recorded one other project in there just a few weeks prior to us recording. It was the most economical choice at that point to record an album, I couldn’t afford a fancy studio…so we brought a mobile rig into the nursery.
How did you approach writing for this new record compared to your debut?
I wrote this one in a much shorter amount of time. I wrote the last record when I was living in Nashville, living in dorms, living in apartments, writing in between classes and after school and in the middle of the night, it was very spread out over three, four years. The approach this time was just more focused because I went into it with the mindset of writing an album. The first time around I was writing songs to write songs…for homework, for personal pleasure and this time around it was with the intention of making a record.
How does the songwriting process happen for you?
Every time is different. Alot of time I will have a lyrical idea that I want to expand on and that’s maybe what you would call the hook or the center of the song and I like to build around that. Alot of times I’ll also start with the melodic idea, sometimes it’s both. But I think the common thread is that its starting with the center and write round it.
Does that come from a lyrical point of view or music?
Generally it’s a lyrical point of view. I’d usually write on acoustic or electric guitar with the lyrical idea coming first and I’ll create a melody with my voice and then sometimes transfer that to the guitar.
What was the most immediate track and also the most difficult to finish?
The most immediate was definitely ‘Strange Hellos’ when I was ready to write that one it came out fairly quickly in a day and there wasn’t much editing. The last song on the record is called ‘The Exchange’ and that one took me a few months to write…just because of content it just was emotionally difficult and aside from that it was a lot…and consolidation was most of the effort. Being concise and consolidating all of my ideas into a cohesive song.
Just going back to Strage Hellos, what’s that about?
For the most part I like to let the lyrics speak for themselves but thematically I can say that song was just my way of exploring some pretty contradictory emotions and putting them in the same song. I had actually just read Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’ and he spoke about love and hate and regardless whether its love or hate that you are writing about, you need to write fervour and dont be lukewarm about it. I think just reading that book allowed me to remove some sort of filter that i’ve had on my writing up into that point. He said when was the last time your true loves and true hates made there way on to the same paper.
What do you like to do when you come to London, do you get much time to explore?
I really like spending time in this area (shoreditch), as it kind of reminds me of where I live in Brooklyn. I have a few friends who live around here and mostly I like hanging out with them and have them show me around. last time I was here was late August and I happened to be here on the day of Notting Hill Carnival. Which was a amazing…I did some heavy heavy tequila damage.
Sprinter is out May 18th 2015 on Partisan Records