On her debut EP, One Look, Cassidy Mackenzie displays a truly unique voice as an

artist and storyteller.

Recorded and co-written with producer Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Bif

Naked), each of the songs on One Look touch on love, loss and desire in some way,

but none more candidly than lead single, ‘Wish’. “Everything we were writing was in

the moment.” Mackenzie says. “I’d go into the studio, Ryan would ask me what was

going on in my life and we’d work off that, but the story for ‘Wish’ literally came

from the night before.”

The EP’s title is actually drawn from a line in ‘Wish’, she adds, and represents the

kind of instantaneous connection you have with someone else that’s so strong

you’re immediately, and almost uncomfortably, attracted to them. While tracks like

‘Compass’ (co-written with Tavish Crowe) and ‘I’m Onto You’ cover similar ground,

no one song sums up One Look’s lyrical preoccupations more powerfully than

‘Overrated’. “It’s about a feeling of love and desire so overwhelming you almost can’t

take it; where you’re so hung up that you don’t know whether feeling the way you

do is better than not feeling it.”

While many of the experiences Mackenzie mined for the EP’s lyrical content are

recent, the musical toolkit she draws from to share those stories so openly with

listeners has been assembled over years of honing her chops as a musician. “Music’s

always been the biggest part of my life. My grandpa put me in violin lessons when I

was 4-years-old. I was pretty terrible, but I was only 4,” she says, laughing. “During

my first performance I actually kept my back to the audience and cried the entire

time.” After picking up a guitar a year or so later, however, Mackenzie never looked

back and soon took up bass, drums and piano. Early on she didn’t consider herself a

singer, and only started singing because she needed someone to sing on her early

recordings. “I never took lessons. I swear I learned by belting out Avril Lavigne and

Taylor Swift songs in my car during high school, but even when I was 7-years-old I

never considered a career that was not music.”

“It’s not like I didn’t have doubts and, obviously, rejections, but when people said,

‘that’s not realistic. Why don’t you do accounting or something?’ I was like, okay,

just watch me.” Her parents, both filmmakers, were highly supportive, she adds,

and inspired her endlessly. “I’ve seen them go through the same process of things

falling through, or going well, and I have endless admiration for their creativity and

drive.” That level of ambition, and the drive to be creative, is something Mackenzie

shares and ultimately led her to leave home at 17 to study music at Nashville’s

Belmont University. It also gave her the confidence to reach out to Stewart (whose

music she’d grown up listening to) while on summer break in 2018 to ask if he’d be

interested in working with her.

In all, they spent roughly three weeks writing and recording in Stewart’s North

Vancouver studio, often cranking out a song a day. “We talked about the vibe for the

EP, but we went from a blank slate other than content and stories. I’m almost

painfully introspective, so I wanted to be truthful and put my soul out there so

people could link the songs to their own memories – happy or heartbreaking. But I

also wanted to make sure the songs emphasize that you need to be your own person

and not give people the idea they need to be dependent on someone else.”

The result is a signature blend of R&B, straight up pop, and 90’s alt. rock, all

underpinned by the deep bass tones modern EDM and an approach to storytelling

that – while fuelled by Mackenzie’s love of artists such as Avril Lavigne, Taylor

Swift, Alanis Morissette and The 1975 – is uniquely and authentically her own.