When a song is real, you just know, and it hits home a little differently. Maddy McKenzie didn’t just do that on her debut single “Dreamer,” she plans to make it a calling card for the music she will be releasing in the future.
“Dreamer” tells the story of Maddy pursuing music head on and wanting more for herself, all the while showing sonic versatility as she taps into both classic and modern country sounds in the delivery of the song.
We talked with Maddy about when she realized she wanted to pursue music, the emotions that came with releasing “Dreamer,” hearing the song on the radio, her plans for the rest of the year and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Maddy McKenzie: I grew up listening to many genres of music. One of my biggest influences in music is my dad. He was in a band before I was born, and because of his love for music, he introduced me to a variety of music throughout my childhood. Our family values a lot of great Canadian musicians such as Gordon Lightfoot, Stompin’ Tom, Our Lady Peace and Big Wreck to name a few. I was taught to appreciate all genres and the importance of songwriting. I pull a lot of my style from all over the musical spectrum; I wasn’t really introduced to modern country until my early teens, at which time I began listening to Carrie Underwood, The Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift. I would say that I learned a great deal from these women in country, and my style is influenced by them.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
MM: I began pursuing music as a career when I realized I had a skill for writing good songs. I also grew up performing from a young age, as I danced competitively for years, and feel most comfortable when I am performing on stage. I always say, “the larger the audience, the better I perform.”
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with your debut single “Dreamer”?
MM: My introduction to releasing music was very unique. I was born with macular dystrophy (Stargardt’s). It is a condition that renders me blind in my central vision and effects my daily life. Due to having a physical disability, I was eligible for a dream that was granted by the Sunshine Foundation. My dream was to hear my song “Dreamer,” that I had written previously, played on my favourite radio station, Country 104. They supported this dream from beginning to end. I was overwhelmed with positive emotions when the song was released. I was lucky enough to go into the station for an interview, and that day was one I’ll never forget. It was full of happy tears, and I felt like I truly was going to have all my dreams come true someday. I felt very optimistic, and like I could accomplish anything. I was also really nervous because I wanted people to love the song as much as I do.
PC: “Dreamer” comes off as a very autobiographical song. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
MM: Due to my writing style, all of my songs are autobiographical. I have yet to write a song that isn’t about a personal experience. At the time I wrote this song, I was around the age of 17. During that time in my life, I was gearing up to go off to university. My parents were really pushing me to go to get a higher level of education. “Dreamer” was a song I wrote to them saying that I have bigger plans than just going off to university, finding a nice boy, getting married and having babies. I wanted more than that. I did end up going to university; I am currently in my third year of nursing at Western University, but it is my backup, in case I ever need one. Music is my true love and passion, and it is what I am meant to do with my life. This, I know for a fact.
PC: “Dreamer” taps into both a classic country sound and a more contemporary sound. Was it at all important for you to showcase that versatility in your sound on your debut release?
MM: Yes, it was important to mesh both old and new country. I think some of the best country songs on the radio today are the ones that have elements of both. When we were recording it, it came together organically. The band and I clicked really well, and we had a great time working on the song together. It all fell into place naturally. Now, as for new music, it may end up sounding more modern than traditional because my style has evolved a little since then, but I will always continue to appreciate old country and incorporate it into my music as much as I can.
PC: You were surprised by having your song play on Canadian radio many times. What were those moments like for you and what emotions were running through you?
MM: In the time that my song was played on the radio, many tears were shed by both my family and I. It is an indescribable feeling to have your hard work recognized. I have been pursuing music for a very long time now, and I was so grateful for the opportunity that I was given. There are several embarrassing photos and videos of me singing along to my song while its being played on the radio. It sounds a little narcissistic, I know, but I was so unbelievably happy that I was finally reaching a goal of mine. I got such positive feedback from people who support me and my music. It was all a little overwhelming, but in the best way imaginable.
PC: 2020 has thrown the plans of many out the window. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2020?
MM: Yes, this year has had a rough start, but it is a great opportunity for musicians to reach new audiences through social media. My plans are to keep posting on both my Facebook and Instagram pages and engaging with fans and supporters as much as possible. I’d really like to grow my audience so I can inspire more people to realize that it is possible to achieve their dreams if they just put in the time and effort. I plan to do live streams, one of which was on April 7th at 7:00pm through McGonagals Pub’s Facebook page and can still be viewed. Hopefully the summer will be COVID free and I can continue with gigs I have booked. I will also be recording new music with Rob LaMothe and Jordan Honsinger this summer. I will be starting up my YouTube channel, so keep posted for that. Fingers crossed everything in the world smooths out soon!
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
*All images courtesy of Maddy McKenzie and Maddy McKenzie Facebook Page*