Mackenzie Shivers: Welcome to Neverland

Record Jacket from Mackenzie Shivers' NeverlandThis was an interview that almost didn’t happen.

Last week, I was looking for music to play while subbing for Steve Klinge on WVUD‘s All Tomorrow’s Parties, when I discovered Neverland, an album by Mackenzie Shivers.

The first track, “Hey Marie,” was a fun invitation to follow the singer, a modern version of a calling on song, if you will. I found I was rocking along with the second track, “Nothing to fear,” while noticing how the lyrics painted the relationship between the singer and her guy. By the time I got to the third track, “Eire,” I was hooked. Three songs. Three different moods!

All the lyrics on Neverland are interesting and well-crafted. Mackenzie’s voice can soar above the music or fit in as part of an ensemble sound, expressing a variety of emotions and feelings as she varies her voice’s tone and volume. The songs have different orchestrations and vibes. Sometimes lush and hopping, sometimes spare and introspective. Sometimes building up, sometimes with different instruments coming and going to emphasize the emotions in the song or to comment on the lyrics, if you will. Sometimes the songs are celebratory, sometimes wistful–almost intimate, like someone taking you into her confidence. And I realized that the piano work was some of the best I’ve heard in pop or alternative music in a long time.

By now I was convinced I had to try to get this artist on The Music Room. So I went out to Mackenzie Shivers website to find her contact info…. Poking around, I learned that she was the pianist. And no wonder the piano and the arrangements were so good–she’d studied piano and composition at Vanderbilt University. And no wonder her voice is so expressive–she’s an actress, too.

We got things all set on the 28th to go live that night. Cool.

6:10pm, I tested the phone line. All loud and clear. Got on the air at 6:30, started playing “4th of July,” and the phone line into the board didn’t work. I started scrambling around, trying to make things work, and then Mackenzie Shivers, trouper that she is, called the station. I put her on speaker phone, moved a mic over the speaker, and the show went on!

She talked about how her songs are often a way that she works through a sense of loss, for example, if someone close to her passed away, or her sister moved to the left coast. But we also had a blast talking about a rock opera she just appeared in, her songwriting, her appearance in a Phil Collins video when she was a teenager, incidental music she’s written and writing for live theater plays, the differences between singing your own songs on stage, performing in a play, or being part of a musical cast.

Check out our conversation at the link below. This was an interview that almost didn’t happen. But I’m very glad it did….

The Interview

Mackenzie Shivers
(Recorded live 10/28/14; host: Mandorichard), 26:54, 25.8 MB.
Note: Full version of all the tracks were played in the radio broadcast, but, due to copyright considerations, two of the tracks are excerpted in the podcast version.

The Music

The following music is heard in this episode of The Music Room:

  • Artist / Song / Album (or note) / Label (or source) / Date / Notes
  • Mackenzie Shivers / 4th of July / Neverland / self-produced / 2014
  • Mackenzie Shivers / Orphan Song / Neverland / self-produced / 2014 (Excerpt in podcast)
  • Mackenzie Shivers / Nothing to Fear / Neverland / self-produced / 2014
  • Mackenzie Shivers / Below the Meadow / Neverland / self-produced / 2014 / (Excerpt in podcast)