Mandy McMillan is a Canadian artist who left her small town of Stony Plain, Alberta to move to Nashville after she won a Country Music Television Canada Contest in 2008. Since that time, she’s opened for Trisha Yearwood and Blake Shelton, released an EP in 2014, made the Top 10 of ole’s “Play for Publisher”, and used her own personal struggles and self-reflection to create a path of understanding through music for others to connect with. She now divides her time between Canada and Nashville.
Last November Mandy released single “Haven’t We All Been”, intersecting between alt-country and classic rock to create an intended impact of “reflective hopefulness” that she wants listeners to get from it. It’s inspired by her own healing path to self-love.
We had the opportunity to chat with Mandy about the single, her creative process and what’s next.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single “Haven’t We All Been”?
Mandy: I wrote “Haven’t We All Been” two years ago with my friend Chris Roberts in Nashville after a major breakup in my life that was surrounded by lots of emotionally-charged moments. The overall feeling surrounding the breakup was so hard and I got inspired to want to write a song that touched on the mental health aspect of hurt and knowing that it’s ok to feel the emotions and to be able to move through them and come out on the other side. It was almost as if Chris had read my mind because he had the song title and first verse written when I showed up to write that day and it was amazing to write a song genuinely from my heart. I listened to it over and over for a year and it really helped me get through.
Kat: What do you hope fans take from the track?
Mandy: I want fans to take away a sense of vulnerability and openness to know that we are all going through something and the best support we can have is knowing that we’ve all been there and we can get through the hardships together. I had a realization when coming up with the concept for the music video and the idea of pulling petals off of a flower with the concept of “He loves me, He loves me not” but I was hit with an “Aha” moment when the words changed in my mind to “I love me, I love me not”. There was a big realization of self-love throughout my journey and understanding that it was never for me to place my value in someone else’s love for me but me valuing my own worth. And that ultimately, through the hard times of I love me, I love me not that everything will be ok as long as I always come back to “I Love Me”. I hope fans take away the realization of self-love.
Kat: What do you find is the most challenging part of your creative process?
Mandy: My most challenging part is the writing. I get downloads for songwriting ideas and then it becomes a great challenge to make sure that first off, the point of what I’m trying to say is understandable and also that it doesn’t sound “cheesy”. A lot of the time I can hear or feel what I want in a song but it’s hard to completely make that happen by myself so that’s where co-writing is a great tool to get me outside of my creative box.
Kat: What has been a career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?
Mandy: This is a hard one because on one hand I could list off some amazing experiences I’ve been a part of, like performing at the CMAs with Kenny Chesney, being a part of a Kelly Clarkson music video and overall working with some amazing people. But the true highlights come from receiving messages from people around the world who have seen me perform or heard my music and tell me how much I have influenced their lives. I still receive messages from people who watched me perform in Nashville years ago and they say how I was their favorite performer on their trip and I don’t take that lightly. There are so many phenomenal singers and performers in Music City so to stand out and have connected with someone who still thinks of me years later – that means the world is a highlight for sure!
I’ve learned that above and beyond everything what people crave in life is genuine connection. Through that, I learned that my performances were not meant to be shiny and perfect but instead to sing from the heart and give people a connection to my music and energy.
Kat: What’s next?
Mandy: Releasing songs from my upcoming album, creating new art and overall becoming a more well-rounded authentic version of Mandy. I am finding a lot of peace in the quiet that we’ve experienced over the past year and from that I have grown more than I could’ve ever thought. Really excited to lean into this next chapter and see what unfolds! I’ve been also learning a lot more about production and have a strong pull towards music that is healing. Keep an eye out for meditation music from me in the near future!
For more on Mandy visit: https://www.mandymcmillan.com