Discovered online at the young age of 13, Aucklander Mackenzie Comer, life could have successfully stayed on international stages of country music, but she gave it all up for the sake of finding her own path towards sophisticated, more soul-infused pop songs. Having delivered her debut MCK EP ‘Confessions’ in March 2020, she’s already following it up with the modern sound of a brand new bop Muse. She was lucky enough to get NZ On Air Music‘s NewMusic Singles funding for the single and accompanying video and subsequently, Muse has featured on the funding agency’s monthly NewTracks compilation this September.
My full name is Mckenzie Comer, and I grew up in Maraetai out east. I can play guitar and piano.
I moved to Australia when I was nine, so did most of my schooling there, and my school was very driven by the arts. I used to spend my lunch breaks in the music room writing songs about boys I had crushes on. I didn’t enjoy music theory and I wasn’t very good at it, but there were two teachers who gave me a lot of freedom and encouragement – Mr. Brown and Mr. Goodale. Shout out to them!
When I was 13, I was discovered online and spent a few years travelling back and forth to Nashville and around the United States, recording and playing shows. I had put out a few songs under my full name. It took me a really long time to not feel embarrassed or ashamed by all of it to be honest – when you’re that young you don’t know what you want.
You don’t understand that what you put on the internet stays there forever. I can look back now and be grateful for the experience, but for a while I wasn’t sure if I would ever come back to music again… But I don’t think there was ever a scenario where I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s like second nature.
I wanted a blank slate, a new name, and a separate platform. I had finally reached a point where I was in full control of my art and my creative process and it felt great. I was working with Djeisan Suskov (Leisure) on my first single Magnets and he saved down our session by abbreviating my name to MCK in the project file. I told him I hadn’t decided on what to call myself yet and he said something like, “I would listen to something by MCK.” And I was like, “Cool”. Such an anticlimactic story.
I mean, I didn’t know anything at 13 – I was pulling inspiration from made-up scenarios and unrequited feelings and Taylor Swift songs. But whatever they say about 10,000 hours I think is probably true. I never stopped writing to process my emotions, heal, gain perspective. As I’ve grown into who I am as a woman my songwriting has evolved too.
My highlight so far would definitely be the day we shot the Muse video. It felt big – a culmination of every ounce of my creativity and what I’m able to contribute as an artist right now. I had done the hours of planning and preparation, and I felt that confidence going into the day. It was exactly how I envisioned it, and everyone that I brought together cared just as much as I did about making something cool. Just making it happen was a huge milestone and something I’ll never take for granted.
It’s based around last summer, there was a guy that I met – a painter, actually – who inspired me, hence the painting/art references. It’s about being admired and enjoying being swept up in that, even if you know it’s probably not that deep.
“He had all the right words, calling me his dream girl”. The way the production changes for that line in the second verse gets me so hyped. Fun fact, I thought about calling the new EP, ‘Dream Girl’.
I had written and produced a demo version and brought it to Josh Naley (Wells*) who I’d been working with for a few months already. He just elevated it, made all the cool parts cooler, finessed the hook. Made it great.
It’s meant to be self-empowered, carefree. That’s how it was made. I hope it’s the song you put on when you’re getting ready to go out that makes you feel like a snack.
There’s not a lot of “working out”, I generally just have a gut feeling. It was the strongest track we had, the one we thought was the closest to what the new project was aspiring to sound like. I also had a clear visual landscape in my head so it made the most sense.
It’s just me. But Josh and I wrote and produced this particular EP together and Nicole [Thomas] and Paula [Yeoman] from NicNak are doing my PR.
I have my EP called ‘Hot Sounds’ coming later this year, the second single Better which is a duet with Wells* is coming out on October 2.
Night & Day – Wells*
Muscle Memory – Alayna
Party Shit / Misbehaving – Foley
New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.