Your new single ‘NEW CRUSH’, which is great, was recently released. Tell us more about it.
Thank you so much! “New Crush” is just a really fun, summery song about that puppy-dog phase of new love. I think the best part about it is that it’s something literally everyone can relate to, and that’s what makes it so infectious.
You worked with Nash Overstreet. Tell us more about how that came about.
Yeah, Nash is a member of the band Hot Chelle Rae, which was one of my favorite bands as a teenager. When I found out I was getting to work with him I was obviously super excited. It’s actually funny, because during the writing process of some other songs before “New Crush” I had referenced a few of Hot Chelle Rae’s music for writing style, and my producer, Craig King, was like “oh I know Nash Overstreet. Would you be interested in writing with him?” And I basically died.
Did Nash give you any advice? If so, what was it?
Nash is really down to earth and fun. He’s got a lot of experience in the industry, not only as an artist and musician, but also as a producer and writer, so he’s seen it from several sides. His advice comes in the form of stories, and I’ve secretly taken gems from several of his stories and hidden them away to reference myself at times. Mostly, I’ve noticed that Nash has lots of respect for artists with a true work ethic. I think the biggest thing I’ve gotten from Nash is that work ethic, determination, and professionalism is key, no matter what your age, gender, or role is.
What was the recording process like?
“New Crush” was really different from any other song I had ever done, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit scared of it at first. There are a lot of runs and it really tested my range, so the day I recorded it, I was pretty nervous going into the studio. Nash is great though, and he’s very easy to work with. He has a cool way of bringing personality out of my vocal performances and making the process really fun. It took a good 12 hours and a shot of liquid Dayquil to keep my voice alive enough to finish the job, but we nailed it in the end and had a lot of laughs along the way.
How was the writing process for the song?
I’m usually pretty involved in the writing process of my music, but “New Crush” was written by Nash Overstreet and Kiana Brown in LA. When it was submitted to me, I actually wanted to pass on it because I felt it was going in a different direction than my other music, but my manger told me to sit with it before I decided. A few days went by, and I could not stop singing it. That’s how I knew it was meant to be mine.
What was the filming like for the video?
Shooting the music video was one of the most fun days of my life. The director, Derek Blanks, was supposed to submit like 3 ideas I think for the concept of the video, and the first one he submitted was the drive-in idea. I was like “NO MORE IDEAS-THIS IS THE ONE I WANT!” lol. I grew up in Colorado and Drive-in’s are sort of my thing, so it felt like fate. Derek had no idea at the time how much I love the mountains and Drive-in theaters, so that was even crazier. We shot in Blue Ridge, GA, at the Swan Drive-In. The locals who lived there and the owners of the theater were extras, so the whole thing felt very genuine and real. It was such a special experience.
Will we see an EP or Album at the end of the year?
Yes, absolutely. I’m in the process of finishing my EP up now, and I can’t wait to release it!
You performed at ‘Salute To America and The Arts’, how did this come about?
Yes! I’ve been living in Atlanta for over a year now and we’ve been focused primarily on the EP and the release of the single. When I first moved to Atlanta, I was introduced to a lot of wonderful people, one of them being Peggy Johnson, the Executive Director over at Callenwolde Fine Arts Center. Peggy has been one of my biggest role models as far as being such a successful woman in the music industry, and she has been very influential in my career, so when she contacted my manager and asked if I would be one of the opening acts for CeeLo Green at their Salute to America and The Arts festival this year, I was honored.
What was your first reaction when you found out you had been added to the lineup?
When my manager first told me, I think my mouth just dropped open in shock because I was so excited and honored. I had gone to the 2015 event to watch, and it was beautiful and so much fun. I knew this year that CeeLo Green would be headlining, and I love him, so to take the stage before him was like a dream. Also, I just think so highly of Peggy Johnson and Callenwolde, and all they do for the community, that being asked to be a part of their annual event was humbling.
How did you prepare for the show?
I had already been in the development process for shows with my choreographer, CiCi Kelley, for about a month before being booked for the Callenwolde event. Still, when we learned I’d be performing there, we really picked up the pace. We developed the show at the famous Marvelous Enterprises, which is a beautiful talent development studio in Atlanta, and we rehearsed there for 3 days a week, 3 hours a day for about 3 months. We auditioned for back up dancers, and also had assistant youth dancers helping out until the professionals came to rehears 2 days before the show. We brought on a stylist, Emmanuel Evans, and a talent developer, James Slaughter, and just rehearsed our butts off every day so that we would have a memorable show. It was definitely a collaborative effort, and I feel so blessed to have the team that I do.
Will you be doing any more gigs or a tour maybe? If so, where will you be heading?
I absolutely will be doing more gigs, and my ultimate goal right now is to tour, so stay tuned.
Do you play any instruments?
I do, I play piano. I just started learning last year. Actually, It was Peggy Johnson who taught me, and although I’m learning more and more every day, I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I think my neighbors probably hate me because my favorite time to practice is at like 2am…
Who are your influences?
My biggest musical influences as a whole are Beyoncé and Janet Jackson. I’ve been prepping for shows lately so I’ve been really studying them. Their all around artistic style is captivating—especially in their performances. As far as writing style, I’m a Katy Perry and Taylor Swift fan, and vocally Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Jessie J, and SIA move me.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Inspiration tends to hit me at the most random times. I can wake up with a song concept and I’ll write it down, or a melody will hit me in the shower and I’ll have to jump out and record it on my phone really quick. Sometimes I get ideas at the gym, or even at rehearsal. The best songs, though, come from when I’m sitting around with other writers and we’re all just telling stories.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to still be living my dream and perfecting my craft, and giving the best parts of myself to my audience.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
If I have a few days off, I’ll usually fly back home to Colorado to see my family and friends. I love the mountains, so hiking, fishing, camping, four-wheeling, etc, are big on my list of fun past-times.
If you could collaborate with one UK Artist or Band who would it be?
I know you said one, but I it’s a toss up between Jessie J and Adele. They are both massively talented and I adore their personalities and everything they stand for as artists.
If you could collaborate with one US Artist or Band who would it be?
I’m having a Janet Jackson/Beyonce obsession right now, so it would have to be either one of them. Sorry, again, I can’t just pick one.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
To always tell the truth in my music. When it’s not genuine, the audience knows, and it will just never, ever work.
What would be your dream TV show to have your music played on?
Criminal Minds. I’m so morbidly obsessed with that show that I would probably lose my cool if that every happened.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
My most favorite quote ever is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; Only love can do that.”
You get off a plane in your hometown:
1. Where is the first place you visit Either my parents house or our family cabin.
2. What is the first restaurant you go to and what do you get to eat? De Corazon in Denver, and I get down on their Carnitas. (thanks, I’m starving now).
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
Of course! If you want to find them all in one place you can go to www.sonnymackenzi.com or else Twitter, IG, Snapchat, and Musicical.ly is @sonnymackenzi and facebook.com/sonnymackenzi, as well as youtube.com/sonnymackenzimusic and vevo.com/artist/sonny-mackenzi