Mackenzie Nicole


A rafter-reaching voice, classically trained chops, literate lyricism, and a sassy spark enable Mackenzie Nicole to quietly rewrite the rulebook for pop. Equally inspired by Rihanna, Halsey, Johnny Cash, and The Doors, the 18-yearold impresario who can readily quote The Shining or Wuthering Heights honed her immense vocal talents via singing operas in several different languages since the age of six. Now, she embarks on a mission with focused, albeit far-reaching intentions… “I want to trojan horse some substance and variety into pop,” she exclaims. “I’d like to join a tide of valuable artists changing what happens in mainstream culture, art, and writing. That’s really important to me.” If anybody can do it, it’s Mackenzie. She spent her formative years studying piano and voice under the rigorous instruction of a strict and seasoned professional teacher. Between sharpening those abilities, she devoured art of all forms—from reading Heart of Darkness as a high school sophomore to obsessing over the Insidious film series as a teen (and to this day!) “I was formally trained on how to do everything ‘right’,” she admits. “From a very young age, I knew what was technically correct given theory and according to these rules that I’d learned over and over again. However, I had this realization where I thought, ‘Music doesn’t have to be proper.’ It doesn’t need to pass the litmus test of being technically accurate in order to be good or enjoyable. So, I started experimenting at that point.” That experimentation led to her debut single “Actin Like You Know.” Co-written by the budding artist, she caught the attention of her father Travis O’Guin cofounder and C.E.O. of independent juggernaut Strange Music Inc., proving herself by obsessively nailing the vocal take. Her recording history predates the single as she made her debut on platinum-certified rap icon Tech N9ne’s 2009 K.O.D. before lending her voice to tracks on All 6’s and 7’s [2011] and Something Else [2013]—which both bowed at #4 on the Billboard Top 200. Signing to Strange Music in 2015, she formally unveiled “Actin Like You Know” boasting a cameo from Tech. Early acclaim came as the track racked up over 3.9 million YouTube views and 1.9 million Spotify streams, while the song served as a centerpiece on the Tech N9ne Collabos album Strangeulation Vol. II. 2017 saw her feature on two songs from Strange Reign in addition to guesting at various tour stops. “Deleted” turned up as her next solo hit with over 978K Spotify streams and 599K YouTube views to date. Simultaneously, the songstress assembled what would become her full-length debut and the first release for the Strange Main imprint, The Edge, co-written with and produced by Los Angeles duo The Jam (Lady Gaga, Santana, Jojo). In many ways, that title sums up the expanse of her nuanced and intricate personality. “Personally, and professionally, I’m a very intense and extreme person,” she admits. “I take everything as far as possible before breaking. Sometimes, I take things a little too far to the edge and almost fall off. This is an introduction to me and who I am. It talks about a lot of different subjects that are relevant to me. I can be very serious. I tend to gravitate towards the darker and grimier side of things. The Edge is a glimpse into that. This is me in every way on the record.” She paved the way for the album with the single “Preview,” which begins with orchestral flourishes before building towards a climactic and catchy chorus. “For two years, I was off and on with this guy,” she sighs. “‘Preview’ takes place when we were on again. Even when things are terrible and going horribly, we still end up back with each other. We had to cut things off, dive in, and finally see it through though. ‘Preview’ was the choice to dive in. This relationship was good for the art, but bad for my mental health,” she adds with a laugh. The follow-up “Back to You” illuminates her staggering range over a cinematic musical backdrop. Elsewhere, “Anxious” touts an infectious refrain. “Fix Me” unearths raw emotion in each verse and she admits, “That one is the most authentic to me.” Everything culminates on the expansive and entrancing title track. Over a shimmer of piano keys, she delivers the admission, “Sometimes you need to walk to the edge and just let it take over…” In the end, this trojan horse unlocks a big surprise for pop by channeling a timeless sentiment like only Mackenzie can. “I love it when I listen to a track and completely get chills, because the artist said something that speaks directly to me,” she leaves off. “In this moment, you now have an anthem for your thought or emotion. It’s very individual and intimate. We all go through happiness, love, and anger. I hope listeners can connect on a deeper level. We’re experiencing this art together. I’m sharing it; you’re hopefully feeling it.”