Mackenzie Porter Talks “Drinkin’ Songs” And Staying Inspired

Kat Harlton

Singer-songwriter MacKenzie Porter is a rising Country talent whose sound knows no borders. Signed to Big Loud Records, Porter is surging now with an arsenal of new music produced by Joey Moi (Jake Owen, Morgan Wallen). Since moving to Nashville in 2014 from her native Canada, she’s developed a radiant Country style which threads the needle between traditional heart and modern energy, often collaborating with songwriting mainstays like Nicolle Galyon, Craig Wiseman, Natalie Hemby, and Tommy English.

Her “mesmerizing vocals and hook-driven songs” (Billboard) have sparked a list of headline-worthy accolades, including multiple Canadian Country Music Award nominations —  4X Female Artist of the YearSongwriter of the Year and Fans’ Choice — as well as a previous JUNO Award nomination for Country Album of the Year. Making her mark, Porter became the first female artist to have three back-to-back #1 singles at Canadian Country radio in 22 years with “About You,” “These Days” and “Seeing Other People” in early 2020, following Shania Twain in 1998. 

Porter also earned her first crossover Top 10 at Canadian pop-radio — a first since 2003 for a Canadian female country artist — with “These Days (Remix).” She’s toured extensively on her own, sharing the stage with Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Chris Lane, Blake Shelton and Dallas Smith, and also co-starred in the Netflix series, “Travelers.”

We had the opportunity to chat with Mackenzie about new music, career highlights and how she’s staying inspired.

Kat: For those who are just being introduced to your music, how would you describe it? Is there anything you’d want them to know before listening to it?

Mackenzie: I think my music is a nice balance between country lyrics with a pop production influence. I always care about the lyrics and story first and then make it feel and sound good second!

Kat: You’ve recently released single “Drinkin’ Songs” Can you talk about the inspiration behind it, and if there was a particular sound or style you were hoping to achieve?

Mackenzie: “Drinkin’ Songs” is about that one song you had with your last relationship. The theme song of your love. That song can bring up so many good emotions when you are with that person but what happens to that song after you break up. Which emotions does it bring up then? I love a good sad uptempo song. If my entire record could be heartbreak songs with a sick beat it would be.

Kat: You’re the first Canadian country artist to land a crossover Top 10 on the Mediabase Top 40 Airplay chart with “These Days (Remix)” since 2003, when Shania Twain’s “Up” earned the same recognition. What does that mean to you, and was that a goal you were hoping to accomplish?

Mackenzie: It wasn’t a goal I was reaching for. I had no plans to take “These Days” to pop radio. It just kind of happened. Enough pop stations started playing my original version (country version) that my label came to me with the idea. Never in a million years did I think pop radio would dig it, let alone take it all the way to top 10. I’m so, so grateful that radio in Canada has been so accepting and supportive of my music.

Kat: Earlier this summer, you scored a historic ‘three-peat’, as your single “Seeing Other People” became your third consecutive country #1. The track’s remarkable success made you the second Canadian female in history to have three consecutive country #1s, another record previously held by Shania Twain (1998). Your catalogue has also amassed over 80 Million streams, what has been a career highlight for you so far? and what have you learned along the way?

Mackenzie: I feel like I’ve had so many amazing career moments but one that really sticks out for me was a show I played in Toronto in front of 14 thousand people. I remember thinking nobody would know my music or know who I was and when I stepped out and “These Days” started I couldn’t believe how many people were singing along. I’ve learned that this road is not straight or necessarily smooth. I’ve had months where I feel like I’m hitting my head against the wall, and ones where everything seems to be falling into place. If I keep my head down, working hard in both scenarios I not only find more happiness but find more growth.

Kat: How has Covid-19 and the world in general impacted your music and songwriting? and has it inspired you to find other ways of reaching out and creating?

Mackenzie: It’s been really hard to be honest. I’ve had to cancel so many shows I’ve lost count. I miss being on the road so, so much. But the good thing is it’s allowed me to be home and really focus on writing my next project. I write 5 days a week on Zoom and can’t wait for y’all to hear the new stuff.

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