Life is bright for Sonny Mackenzi. The rising pop star is truly the total package; a voice the radio will love, a style that both young kids and college students will adore, and raw talent that’s worth its weight in gold. What other pop stars can say that in their down time they’ve written two mystery novels? As busy as she is, Sonny sat down to answer some questions about the creation of her upcoming EP, her passion for music, and the message she hopes to inspire in those who listen to it.
POParazzi: How is your debut EP coming along? Have you had any memorable stories so far in the creation of the music on it?
Sonny Mackenzi: The EP is coming along great. We’ve been recording like mad and then paused for a few weeks to prep for a show I had, but now the process is back on, which I’m really excited about. I love creating new music. Probably my most memorable moment so far is the day I realized we had finally found MY sound. My manager, (our producer) Craig King, and I had been going back and forth for quite some time trying to lock down a sound I could call my own—I’m talking months and months of searching and creating and studying music, artists and styles. One day we sat down in Craig’s studio and he played the few songs we had created back-to-back, and I slowly started to realize that they all had this cool worldly, dance vibe that had come about organically, and I kind of flipped. I was like “Oh my God! We found my sound! You guys, this is my sound!” It was almost like an out of body experience, because we’d been looking for so long [that] I wasn’t sure we’d ever find it, and all along it was happening on its own as he put the music together. That moment was so awesome, I almost couldn’t even deal.
POParazzi: You grew up in Colorado, and now you’re based out of Atlanta. How have these two very different locations had an effect on your music?
Sonny Mackenzi: Colorado and Atlanta are pretty different. I think the biggest impact the move has had on my music is the growth. Colorado is home—it’s where my family and my friends are, so when I was writing and recording out there, I was in a different headspace. My music was probably a little younger, and it had a little bit more of a carefree or silly vibe. These days, after being away from home and growing up a bit, there’s more of an edge to my sound, and I think more emotional truth to the songs I’m doing. I learned a lot about myself after moving to Atlanta, and the change is evident not only my new music but also in my entire artistic persona.
POParazzi: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Sonny Mackenzi: Ha! Yes, I do. I was about 11 or 12, and [the song] was about a neighbor boy I had a crush on. It was terrible; I’m not gonna lie. Thank God I never tried to sing it to him…
POParazzi: When did you first develop your passion for making music?
Sonny Mackenzi: I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I think I was 3 when my parents put me in a touring children’s choir, and from then on my life has been all about music and performing. I always knew that I was going to be a singer and a writer.
POParazzi: What do you like to do for fun?
Sonny Mackenzi: I’m pretty low-key. I mostly just love hanging out with my girlfriends and acting 12. I’m really close to my family too, so being with them is usually number one on my list, since I don’t get to see them too often because of my busy schedule. I grew up in Colorado, so I’m a mountain girl. I love camping, and four-wheeling, hiking, fishing, etc. My family has a cabin in the Colorado Mountains, and whenever I have time off we like to go there. That’s my happy place.
POParazzi: What other artistic channels help you stay creative and focused with your music?
Sonny Mackenzi: Outside of writing songs, I’ve always loved writing stories. I actually have written two novels, and I’m [working on] editing […] them now. For me, writing is my form of meditation. It’s a creative escape into a world that’s all my own, [one] that I have complete control over. It’s also a great way to keep my mind creatively active. it certainly keeps me in storytelling mode, which is really what music is about also, so the two definitely go hand-in-hand.
POParazzi: Who are some of your musical influences?
Sonny Mackenzi: I would have to say my biggest musical influences as a whole are Beyoncé and Janet Jackson. I’ve been prepping for shows lately so I’ve been studying them. Their all around artistic style is captivating—especially in their performances. As far as writing style, I’m absolutely a Katy Perry and Taylor Swift fan, and vocally Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Jessie J, and SIA really move me.
POParazzi: Who would you like to work with on a song?
Sonny Mackenzi: There are so many people I would love to work with, but right now I’ve got Flume on my radar. To do a song with him would be a dream come true. The music he puts out has a really cool vibe. It’s pop, but it’s different, and that’s what I like.
POParazzi: What’s your creative process like?
Sonny Mackenzi: My creative process varies depending on who I’m working with, but usually I’ll [meet] with the producer first and [create] some beats that I really like. [From there,] we dig for some talented song writers to work with. I absolutely LOVE working and writing with others. I find the best songs come from a collaboration of creative minds. All my songs tell stories of the human experience, and I think that although each of us is living a different life, overall emotion[s] tend to be the same. Love feels like love, pain feels like pain, heartbreak is heartbreak, etc. As human beings, we are all connected in that way. When you get a group of talented people in one room willing to open up and share their stories, magic happens.
POParazzi: What are your goals for your career in music?
Sonny Mackenzi: I picked this career because I love music and I love making people happy. I believe there is power and energy in music, and my ultimate dream is to make sure everything I do is positive and make[s] a difference. I hope to leave this world a better, happier place. Even if I can have a positive impact on the life of just one person who listens to my music or comes out to see me perform, then that’s all that matters to me.
POParazzi: You talk about wanting to put out a message of self-love and strength in the face of adversity. How do you plan to do that?
Sonny Mackenzi: I think the most important thing I can do as an artist is put out positivity musically and personally. I never forget that my audience is watching me. They’re listening to my music, but they’re also watching how I live my life. Like everyone, I’ve experienced adversity, and I’ve struggled at times. The most important thing is to keep a positive attitude and to keep working hard. So musically, that doesn’t mean I’ll only ever sing about butterflies and rainbows; it just means I’m going to try and [put] a positive spin on things, even the darker subjects. It’s important for me to be honest and tell the truth in my music, and the truth isn’t always pretty. Life is tough sometimes, but it helps to know you’re not the only one going through something. Music has always been my saving grace. When I was down as a kid, it was usually my favorite artists who picked me back up. Music is powerful like that, and songs are like messages, telling us we’re not alone. When I sing about things that are difficult while still maintaining hope and love and positivity that translates to my audience and if they’re listening, then they’ll get it.