When it comes to MacKenzie Porter, the sky’s the limit. Aside from being an accomplished actress, she’s also a burgeoning country music artist. Porter, who grew up on a cattle and bison ranch in Southern Alberta, Canada, began her musical training at the tender age of four. Her years of hard work and dedication have certainly paid off. Along with earning a handful of prestigious nominations in various Canadian Award Shows, she recently made headlines, becoming the first female artist in 22 years to score back-to-back No. 1 singles at Canadian Country Radio with songs, “About You,” and “These Days.” That honor was last held by Shana Twain in 1998.
Since moving to Nashville in 2014, Porter has continued to climb up the country music ladder of success. On a break from acting, and with the help of producer Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Morgan Wallen), she’s started laying the groundwork for her debut album. One song featured on the forthcoming project is the emotionally charged “Seeing Other People.” The tune, written by Jason Afable, Emily Falvey and Matt McGinn, recalls the hardest moment after a breakup.
Porter, a Big Loud Records artist, just wrapped up an opening slot on Chris Lane’s Big, Big Plans Tour. In March, she’ll head out for select dates on Brad Paisley’s 2020 World Tour.
Porter recently caught up with Country Now to talk all about her current single, upcoming project and what’s next in her blossoming career. Take a look at our exclusive Q&A with MacKenzie Porter below.
Melinda Lorge: You’re originally from Canada. How did you navigate your musical career when you first moved to Nashville?
MacKenzie Porter: I actually moved to Nashville from Los Angeles in 2014, but I made trips back and forth for a few years before that. It took a while for me to get into the industry in Nashville. But in a competitive industry, it takes time to meet the right people. I remember one time I got the opportunity to sit down with Joey Moi, who’s my producer now. I got to pick his brain, and that’s how that relationship started. He was the first in I had to the record deal that I signed. So for new people moving here, it just takes time, and you also have to write and write and write.
Lorge: How were you introduced to Joey Moi?
Porter: Dallas Smith was working with him at the time. We played a show together, and Dallas told him that he should meet me. So he invited me over while they were at the studio one day. I went and hung out. Then, afterward, I scoured the Internet for Joey’s email and cold-emailed him. I was like, ‘I would love to work with you. I would like you to do my record.’ I didn’t know that that’s not how it goes down in Nashville, but it worked out! He took another meeting with me, and he was like, ‘I want to start developing you.’
Lorge: Where are you at in the recording process and what has that experience been like?
Porter: I’m on the road right now, but we were texting the other day, trying to narrow down the songs for the album. As soon as I get back home, we’re going back into the studio. He’s truly the best. He’s the whole reason why I got a record deal. He’s been a champion of me since day one, and someone who’s always been on my team, always trying to help me find my sound. He’s come to a bunch of rehearsals with my band. He’s just been a big cheerleader for me.
Lorge: Tell me about your current track, “Seeing Other People.”
Porter: “Seeing Other People” is about the very first time after a breakup when you see [your ex] out with somebody else that isn’t you. I know we’ve all seen that especially now with social media being pretty in your face. But, it’s about that feeling you get when your heart drops into your stomach when you see that person holding hands with someone else. You’re wondering, ‘Are they happy?’ ‘Is she prettier than me?’ ‘Does he miss me at all?’ And you’re questioning if breaking up was the right decision. That’s the concept of the song.
Lorge: Why did you choose it as a follow up to “These Days”?
Porter: I wanted to have a more vulnerable song. “These days” is really fun and uptempo. I wanted people to see a different side of me. I love the song, and I relate to it, and I thought, if I relate to it, then other people will probably relate to it too.
Lorge: Are there any other songs from your forthcoming project that you can’t wait to get out to the fans?
Porter: There are so many songs that I can’t wait to get out. One is called “The One.” I wrote it with Tom Douglas, Claire Douglas and Madison Kozak. It’s such an important song to me. It’s a song where we were in the room, and we never tried to write it. It just fell out, and its probably one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written.
Lorge: Two of your songs – “These days” and “About You” – recently made history! How did it feel to follow in Shania Twain’s footsteps becoming the first female artist in 22 years to earn back-to-back No. 1’s?
Porter: It’s so crazy! I feel like we shouldn’t have gone on for that long without having another female, but I’m happy to kind of lead the charge on that. I think Tenille Townes just had had a No. 1 song, so I know the whole thing is changing. But, it felt cool to be in the same sentence as Shania Twain. I am grateful!
Lorge: Would you consider Shania Twain to be one of your musical influences?
Porter: Absolutely! I think she’s anybody’s musical influence in country music. She’s like a Queen Bee. But it’s cool for me because she’s also Canadian, and she led the charge for so many different females. She was breaking down barriers and the definition of what country was at the time.
Lorge: Aside from music, you’re also an actress. How do you juggle both worlds?
Porter: It’s not easy, just with the timing of it all. That’s why it took a bit longer to get this record and my first single out. I was so busy with my TV show, but now I’m taking a break from acting to focus on music. Sometimes it’s tough to balance it all and keep your head in one lane. So I’m excited to have to be focused on one thing right now.
Lorge: You star as Marcy Warton in Netflix series, Travelers. Do the fans of that show come out to your concerts as well?
Porter: Travelers fans are a Syfy crowd, so that’s usually not who listens to country music. But, it’s cool when people tell me, ‘Hey, I found you on Travelers, and now I love your music. I never listened to country, but now I do.’ So maybe we’re bringing a couple more people into the genre, hopefully.
Lorge: You just wrapped up a tour with Chris Lane. Now you’ll be playing select dates on Brad Paisley’s tour. Any highlights from your recent trek you’d like to share with us?
Porter: Chris Lane’s tour was my first U.S. tour. I didn’t know if people were going to know my songs, because I’m not being played on the radio down here. So it’s been such a cool experience so far! It’s been cool seeing people sing “These Days” and “About You” out in the audience.
Lorge: Brad Paisley is notorious for pulling pranks on his opening acts. Have you prepared any pranks for those dates?
Porter: That’s what everyone keeps saying! I didn’t know that he was such a prankster. I feel like I’m going to have to think of something because my whole family is huge into pranks. I’ll scheme something up!
Lorge: What’s next for you?
Porter: So fans can go to any of my social media that is “MackenziePMusic,” and that’s where I’ll post when I have new songs coming out. I’ll be on the road a lot this year, and I’ll also be releasing a lot of new music, so I hope people like it.