On Tuesday, Mackenzie Scott packed up her mother’s Ford Excursion and headed to St. Louis. Inside the car were her band, band manager and band equipment.
“It’s going to be cramped,” Scott said.
That Tuesday, Scott had a show in St. Louis. On Wednesday she had a show in Chicago. On Friday it was a show in New York. On Monday she was in D.C.
Mackenzie Scott, recent Belmont graduate, is the artist TORRES.
Scott, 22, graduated from Belmont’s songwriting program in December 2012. Promptly after graduating, she began working feverishly to prepare for the release of her self-titled debut album, Torres, and a tour. That point required nearly a year of preparation.
The album was recorded live in a Franklin home studio with a tape deck.
“It was definitely removed from the commercial Nashville, polished,” she explained.
“I wanted to get away from that.”
Her leather jacket, combat boots and selection of Bongo Java as a meeting place do not come across as polished. She, instead, conveys vulnerability and sincerity—qualities reflected in her music.
The songs on the album were written over a number of years, but Scott always knew that she eventually wanted to put together an album.
“I definitely wrote with that in mind,” she said. “I picked the ones that I thought made the most sense together to make the most cohesive record possible, the ones more thematically the same.”
Though the entire album was a labor of love, there is one song in particular that has special significance for her: “The Moon and Back.”
“I think it’s most important to me, because I think it’s the song that is most important to my family,” she said.
“It’s also the one song that isn’t ‘woe is me, I’ve been rejected by love,’” she said laughing.
Mackenzie also drew inspiration from her family when selecting her artist name.
Torres was the last name of her grandfather, the man who she fondly remembered loved music and dancing.
In an industry where excess often succeeds and pink wigs and pyrotechnic bras are commonplace, Scott has found a way to make herself stand out: be herself.
“Really, it’s just me,” she confessed. “I would never wear a meat suit.”
She acknowledged that for some—primarily Lady Gaga—it works. However, it’s just not for her.
“I don’t really have a persona that I put out in the public eye,” she said. “It’s very authentic, though I obviously don’t stand around in the shower wearing all of my clothes,” she explained, referencing a photo shoot.
Once she completes her tour, Scott hopes to obtain a publishing deal and begin touring nationally with a recognized band. A record label would be “ideal,” she said.
However, she has no intention of signing with just anyone.
“It would have to be the right label,” she said. “It would need to be like it is right now, I would still need to have complete creative control over my image and the songs that I write.”
She might not have to wait very long. People are already starting to notice.
Before the album was even released, TORRES caught the attention of Pitchfork magazine. Contributing editor Jason Green highlighted the track “Honey” as a best new track, giving it high praise.
“She plugs in a Gibson guitar, opens her mouth, and stops time,” he said in his review of the track.
“With its slow-burn intensity and coiled energy, ‘Honey’ feels like an arena-rock moment happening on an empty stage.”
Scott was overwhelmed by the positive response to the song.
“It’s funny, because after the Pitchfork article everyone started talking about my single ‘Honey,’ and I never actually put it out as a single,” she said, laughing. “I guess now it’s the single.”
Prior to Pitchfork’s review, Scott originally released the track “Mother Earth, Father God” as the single. However, it was quickly overshadowed when the review was released. Scott’s response to the incident: “I’m not mad about it.”
There isn’t really anything Scott seems to be mad about. Her only concern was the eight days she has to spend in her mother’s vehicle with four guys and limited access to a shower while touring. For Scott, there is no real alternative to being TORRES.
“I don’t know what else I would do.”