“I wanted to make something people would want to lean in to hear instead of something that would cause people to want to back up..” Mackenzie Scott laughs, “…In shock.” Scott is referring to Three Futures, her third studio album recording as Torres.
Scott, like me, was raised only a few hours away from where I’m writing this article—in a small southern town called Macon, Georgia, and our similarities don’t stop there. Also like me, she was raised within the parameters of a conservative Southern Baptist upbringing, the kind that makes it hard to be strange, the kind that can sometimes make an act as simple as being present and inhabiting your body at best inappropriate and at worst sinful.
SUIT, ZARA. COAT, ASOS. JEWELRY, TALENT’S OWN.
Her eponymous album, released in 2013, recognized but did not recoil from that harsh upbringing. Recorded over a five-day session at a home studio in Franklin, Tennessee, the final sound was urgent and desperate, channeled through a growling hushed reverberation spiraling through each track, the most prominent of those being tracks like “Honey” where she cringes desperately, her voice breaking “Honey, while you were ashing in your coffee/ I was thinking of telling you’ve what you done to me.” By her second offering, Sprinter, she’d found a new home in Brooklyn, placing her voice in between the distorted feedback of guitars and bravely showing off her emotional wounds. In the title track, Scott digs into what may be an autobiographical telling of coming-of-age and finding her own voice as she rattles off confidently, “Well, pastor lost his position / went down for pornography / so I found myself some ground to stand / bound to be a better man.” The sound is layered, the chorus made of Scott singing back and forth between herself.
JACKET, CHAE NEW YORK. SHORTS, MAAIKE. SUNGLASSES, YOHJI YAMAMOTO.
In her third release, she’s no longer explaining who she was or how she became that person, but how she lives her life now. When asked about what inspired her latest record, she emphasizes a surprising inspiration. “Walking and cooking really were two activities that kind of transformed the way that I write and not necessarily permanently but at least for this record, they really played into the way that I was writing because I became really obsessed with using all of my senses as much as possible. Getting as much out of them as I could. Using my body as much as I could.” This in-body approach was not just based on Scott’s reaction to new rituals, but also changed how she went into the studio, aware of how she wanted the audience and listeners to react to her new music. “I wanted to do something more nuanced. Something sonically inviting.”
RAINCOAT, ZARA. EARRINGS, SOLEDAD LOWE.
The acutely self-aware singer-songwriter got to work taking up the space her body deserved. In “Righteous Women,” she sings, “And when I go to spread, / it’s just to take up all the space I can.” There’s also the beautiful, endearingly confident lyrics of “Skim,” with a self-anthemic chorus of “There’s no unlit corner of the room I’m in.”
Her new intrinsic knowledge of body transformed her writing process, not only impacting the way she wrote her lyrics but also the ways she moved and performed on stage. “[The music I made] very consciously, but also subconsciously, is not only about movement, but also encourages movement while I play it. I move a lot on stage now because the new music requires it. It demands it.”
JACKET, MALIKA RAJANI. TOP, ASOS.
Scott elaborated on the themes of duality she’s able to write about so well: The idea of pursuing happiness in times of darkness and struggle. “I still believe that despite complete helplessness it’s still important to choose joy in every detail if you can. In every single movement, in every bite of food that you take, in every single step that you take, in every nap that you take. It should all be done with as much lust as possible, you know. I don’t mean that in a sexual way. It’s so important to live despite not being in control, because what good is it to not live?”
VEST, AEIDÁINE. GLOVES, ASOS. CUFF, SOLEDAD LOWE.
CONNECT WITH TORRES: