Becoming is out now!
Image: Crystal Chen.
New Zealand singer-songwriter MCK recently unveiled her debut album Becoming. We caught up with the singer to chat about the release and so much more!
Could you tell us a bit about your background in music and what led you to pursuing music?
For sure! I started out on YouTube when I was 13, my dad would help me make videos. I started with covers and then released a few original songs. At around 14 years old I got discovered by a Nashville music executive who then managed me for about 2 years, and I flew back and forth to the US playing shows and making music for a while. It was the dream — until I turned 16 and realized it wasn’t so cool anymore. It took me a while to find the confidence to put myself out there again, but after a few years of growing up and finding my feet, I made peace with the history and figured out who I wanted to be as an artist.
Your debut album Becoming has arrived. Walk us through the concepts and themes explored across the body of work…
The word “becoming” came from poems I was reading during the very first lockdown of 2021, and turned into an intention I set to embrace change no matter how painful or unexpected. It was a reminder that I’m constantly evolving, and never final or complete. The album itself feels quite scattered to me now, with songs I’d written at different times and through different seasons, relationships that changed me for the better and some for worse.. but all played an important role in becoming who I am today.
How important was it for you to explore and break down these themes within your music?
I mean it was just me writing songs as I usually would, so the album just reflects what I’ve been going through over the last two years. I didn’t really intend on releasing a project of this size this year so without that pressure it allowed for my creativity to be completely at ease and the songs to evolve how they were meant to.
How did you arrive at the sonic realm Becoming exists within?
I like to believe I took a back seat and let the songs form on their own sonically, and there was an element of letting go of every genre or sound-based restriction through this process, but looking back I think I definitely pulled from early inspirations like Gabrielle Aplin and Daughter, music that I listened to at 16 and got me through high school, so it does feel like a full circle moment.
Which three songs off the record would you choose to play to someone who had never heard your music and why?
Paragraphs, because it’s more light-hearted, Other People, because it’s a gutwrencher and showcases my songwriting, and Tunnel Vision for the whole package.
What’s one line/lyric/musical motif from the album you find at times can be stuck in your head, or one that you’re most proud of?
“Think I look for you in every man” from World of You is a line I’m proud of and think about often, and then in the second verse of Other People “your mirror fell off the wall, I’m fighting the urge to go to Kmart, and buy you a new one”. I feel like I’ve never heard the word Kmart in a song before.
How did the album evolve throughout its creation? And do you have a particular process during writing sessions or does each song take on its own creative process?
I worked mostly with my producer Joel Jones on the whole album so it was a super consistent process, I just wrote or came up with a concept on my own and then took it to his studio. A lot of the songs I had already written on guitar or piano before taking them in. I think if you can write a song and be proud of it without adding anything else then that’s a good sign.
Will you be hitting the road and what can audiences expect from an MCK live show?
Eventually yes! Just figuring out the details for an album release show before the end of the year in Auckland and then would love to do some dates around New Zealand and in Aussie next year. You can expect a few tears, a few throwbacks, basically a rollercoaster of emotions packed into one night ha.
GET TO KNOW MCK
Gabrielle Aplin, Lizzy McAlpine, Gracie Abrams.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Jhene Aiko, “Chilombo”.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Honest, romantic, raw.
Best song of 2022 so far?
The Bottom by Gracie Abrams.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The next Greta Gerwig film – whatever that is!
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
What was the first song you loved to sing?
“Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Hard Place by H.E.R.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
“emails I don’t send” by Sabrina Carpenter.
First concert you went to?
Best concert you have been to?
First album you ever bought?
Innocent Eyes by Delta Goodrem.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
DEPENDING ON PREVIOUS ANSWER:
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
What would your street name be?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Rhythm and Vines 2021, main stage. It was my first official MCK set so quite special.
Guilty music pleasure?
Keith Urban… my high school friends still make fun of me for that one.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
Would love to support Julia Michaels.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
99% of the things you worry about never happen… and celebrate every win, big or small.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Watching a Celine Dion in Concert DVD in my bedroom around 6 or 7 years old.
Becoming is out now!