Interview: We speak to upcoming pop superstar Mackenzie Johnson

After posting a few articles about Mackenzie Johnson’s original songs and cover versions recently, I was lucky enough to speak to Mackenzie for an interview on aspects of being an artist and a listener. Taking a change in direction from some of the standard questions that get asked, here are a few that lead way to discovering more about what it’s like to be a musician and a lover of music.

Which albums would you want to listen to for the first time again?
– I would probably want to go back and listen to Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves for the first time all over again. I think of the first time I heard each of those songs and I was just so excited because I’d never seen songwriting quite like hers before. It was clever and witty and there were double entendres all over and it was beautiful and heartfelt and it made you think. It was a whole new album experience for me. I think I’d also want to listen to the entire soundtrack of the movie, Once for the first time again. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Once super fan. That music moved me in a whole new way. The heartbreak was almost tangible and I cried the whole way through like a weirdo. But when that happens, you know the music is good. 
Musical guilty pleasures?
– Ooh, guilty pleasures. Well, I once heard Dave Grohl say that there shouldn’t be such a thing as a guilty pleasure because you should just like something without feeling embarrassed about it. I love that. I’m not ashamed to say that I will listen to Britney Spears’ greatest hits in succession at least once a month…
Which song was number 1 on the day you were born & how do you feel about it?
– Is it weird that I already know the answer to this question without having to look it up? Well, I was born on the 26th of January in ’93 so the number one song at the time was, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. That is a beautiful song. Whitney was the queen. 
Favourite film score / soundtrack?
– I seem to have already answered this question accidentally! The Once soundtrack is my absolute favorite. I’ve also always loved the soundtrack from A Walk To Remember. “Only Hope” and “Dare You To Move” and “Cry.” Ah, I just love all those songs. 
Favourite on stage moment?
– My favorite onstage moment surprisingly didn’t happen at one of my own shows but at a Glen Hansard concert about two and half years ago. Glen composed the music for Once and starred in the film and even won an Oscar for the song, “Falling Slowly.” I had won this “Falling Slowly” cover contest through Once on Broadway (I told you I’m a Once super fan) and then a few months later I decided to go see Glen in concert. About halfway through the show, my friend decided to yell out to Glen that the winner of the contest was there and I was like, “No no no, what are you doing!?!” Glen then proceeded to ask me to come join him onstage to sing “Falling Slowly” and the rest was history. There are a few videos on YouTube of the moment and you can see just how giddy and nervous and in shock I was. BEST onstage moment to date. How many people get the opportunity to sing with one of their musical heroes like that? I feel lucky that I get to cross that off my bucket list. 
Most embarrassing on stage moment?
– Hmm, well there are quite a few of those but one of the most embarrassing moments happened at my 11th grade talent show. I had only been playing guitar for about a year at that point and I was so ready to make my debut. I went onstage and performed and was feeling good except unbeknownst to me, the mic wasn’t working at all and no one told me until after I was done. So basically the only people that could hear me in the whole auditorium were the few people in the front row. I was so bummed that my big debut tanked like it did.  
What would you put on your rider when performing live?
– Ideally I’d have Chipotle, Hint water, fruit, veggies, wine, & just some comfortable furniture for everyone to chill on. I feel like Chipotle needs to be the number one priority on a rider no matter what, to be honest with you. As for my wish list, I can’t even think of anything cause I’m not very picky. I don’t need someone placing rose petals on the ground for me as I walk in or anything, just a place where my crew and I will be comfortable! I’ve given my friends and family permission to slap me if ever I were to start acting like a diva and making ridiculous rider requests. Wait! Actually I just thought of something ridiculous that I’d want on a wish list – a frozen yogurt machine and a station with all the toppings. So basically a backstage froyo shop. That’s my wish list! 
Favourite moment of inspiration whilst songwriting?
– I don’t think there’s just one favorite moment of inspiration cause I feel like they happen every time I write a song. I just love the magic that inspiration has the ability to create. It’s like it comes out of absolutely nowhere, like it’s been waiting to jump out of your subconscious and onto the page. Sometimes it can’t wait. One time I had to actually jump out of the shower to write down song lyrics!
Strangest moment of inspiration whilst songwriting?
– Well, just the other day I was texting and going through the emojis and I came across the little trophy emoji. It gave me this idea about writing a song based around the word, “trophy.” So I ended up jotting down all these notes in my phone. We shall see what it becomes. It’s in the works!
What’s the first thing you’d buy if you got a record deal?
– A Maserati pshh obviously…
Which piece of music memorabilia would you want to own most?
– Probably one of Scary Spice’s cheetah print outfits from the 90’s so I can wear it around and be one step closer to fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming Mel B. 
What’s in the top left corner at the end of each video you keep looking at?
– If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Most memorable fan interaction whilst performing or otherwise?
– A fan came to one of my shows dressed as Ellen Degeneres. She was an Ellen fanatic like me so she knew I’d think it was hilarious and amazing. It was indeed hilarious and amazing. 
Strangest place you’ve played live?
– Well, this place wasn’t strange but the scenario was. It was at my uncle’s house for my cousin’s surprise birthday party and they wanted me to come play a little set. I brought my guitar and was all ready to play and then I realized, “Oh yeah, my uncle and my cousin are in a biker gang so the majority of this party is gonna be a bunch of leather-clad, hard-ass biker dudes. I’m sure they’ll love my soft, acoustic stylings.” Guess what though? They actually LOVED it. I played for 2 hours that night. It was the most random, amazing experience ever. Goes to show that music is quite universal. 
For more on Mackenzie Johnson be sure to check out the links below:
Previous Meet: Henry Ruddell from Eagulls interview
Next Meet: Love Amongst Ruin - A Talk With Steve Hewitt

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