It feels like only yesterday that TORRES unveiled her fourth album, Silver Tongue, but with time appearing as nothing more than a flat circle, a year of reflection has given way to her latest record, Thirstier, which arrives today.
Appearing more than 18 months on from her last full-length album, Thirstier wasn’t exactly a record that loomed large on the horizon of its creator, TORRES (the musical moniker of Mackenzie Scott). With 2020 seeming like a year full of opportunity upon the release of Silver Tongue, the coming months soon showed their teeth, with an inability to tour and promote her new record seeing Scott forced to remain far more stationary than previous years had allowed.
Readying new material, Scott took to Middle Farm Studios in Devon, UK later in the year to take the production reins alongside co-producers Rob Ellis and Peter Miles. Instead of crafting an album full of funereal dirges written about lockdown, the resulting record was one of almost overt exuberance, with love at the forefront of Scott’s mind.
As such, Thirstier sees Scott focusing in on love from all angles – including romantic, platonic, familial, self-love, and everything in-between. Even lead single “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head” encapsulates this theme, with its accompanying video clip showcasing Scott and her partner amidst some domestic bliss.
In anticipation of the record’s release, Scott spoke to Rolling Stone to discuss her new TORRES record, its creation, and the decision to focus more on life’s joys.
First of all, it was only in early 2020 that we last received a full-length album by way of Silver Tongue. What was the original plan for the rest of the coming year: touring and promotion? Or was there always new music bubbling away, only for a pandemic to allow it to arrive earlier than intended?
I originally planned to tour on the record for the next year or so. The new music was a reaction to lockdown.
Previous albums have taken a few years, yet this one obviously came about so quickly after the last. Did you find this quick turnaround to be a positive step, or was there apprehension about going into a new one before you’d had time to let the last one settle, be played live, etc.?
I didn’t really think about it. I just made a decision and then acted on it, which is honestly how I operate in all dimensions of life. I knew the window for promoting Silver Tongue had closed definitively and the only option I saw was making another record!
On a related note, a lot of artists making music towards the end of 2020 have found the experience to be almost therapeutic given what had come beforehand. Is this something that you found as well?
I mean, I go to therapy for therapy! I don’t really find writing or performing music to be therapeutic…the opposite, really. I was looking for a way to energise myself and make my world feel a lot more grandiose than was the reality. It made me feel alive!
Ultimately, Thirstier is an album that seems to be summed up by the notion of joy to the point where it’s almost palpable in each and every track. You were also quoted as noting that you had been “conjuring this deep, deep joy that I honestly didn’t feel for most of my life”. How did it come to the point that you were able to access and channel this joy after so long?
I’ve gotten older. I also fell in love and it required me to better. A lot of the things I’ve changed were so ingrained that I assumed they were ossified aspects of my personality. In actuality everything in the brain can be rewired if you can commit to the daily work for as long as it takes…I finally like myself and feel strong and happy.
[That] doesn’t mean I’m not plagued by my existential anxiety but my reactions and defence mechanisms have been forcibly altered.
Likewise, there are numerous things that would’ve added to this level of joy and exuberance you’ve felt, such as your own engagement last year, which was illustrated as well in the film clip for “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head”.
That made me pretty giddy, it’s true. It’s so wonderful to share a life with someone you really love and who loves you just as much as you love them. My younger self didn’t think that would happen for me.
You also noted a desire to “channel your intensity” into “something that felt positive and constructive”, especially since it can be “something life-saving or something joyous”. Was this something that demanded a concerted effort to do so as well, or was it more part of the joy showcased in this album?
It was definitely a choice! I hold a lot of rage in my body and in my heart. I’m working on it. And I think it’s easier for me to put that eviscerating energy into the music more than anything else, like, “I’ll show you who has the last word.”
I’m not saying by any means that I’m finished making that kind of music, either, it’s just that I didn’t feel that that’s what I needed to put into the ether at this moment. I have this real gift for being direct and larger than life and intense, but I wanted to try to use that to make people feel good this time instead of being scary.
Likewise, music such as this can often be of great use to fans, especially given the year that has been. Do you feel (or maybe hope) this album has the potential to help fans feel much the same way that you do and harness the joy within them?
Exactly. It’s exactly why I made this record. If I could just help people to capture that feeling for a few minutes then maybe it could do some real good. I feel like it’s the only thing I have to contribute right now—anything else I try to do feels futile and I get hopeless.
This is also a deeply personal record, and many artists can find a difficulty in being so vulnerable with the listener. Is this something you’ve found difficult over the years, or is it something that you’ve been able to embrace?
It actually makes me feel less alone when I get hyper-specific in the work. I like the feeling of having people know me through my music.
What is the immediate future looking like for you right now? Obviously there’s US concerts on the way, and a European tour in 2022, but is there a sense of caution accompanying it all?
Pretty freaking excited to tour this entire fall and, yes, the European tour in the Spring, and of course I’m anxious to see it all happen the way I’m hoping it will. I’m vaxxed and ready, baby.
TORRES’ Thirstier is out now via Merge Records.