Interview: Indulging The Senses With Torres

Singer/songwriter and guitarist TORRES (aka Mackenzie Scott) sits on an oversized leather couch in the green room of Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom where she’s headlining later that night.

Currently on tour in support of her third full-length Three Futures, the band had a rare day off in the city the previous day and Scott took the opportunity to fully enjoy Los Angeles’ culinary scene. “Today I went to Sqirl, which is my favorite place in LA. Then I found a place called Amara Kitchen that has Paleo cookies, and I ate a whole box of them.”

During the interview Scott is warm, relaxed and well-spoken. On stage later that night, she exudes a powerful presence. Her vocals ring out across the room, as she effortlessly moves from a whisper to a growl that one may not expect from merely listening to her recordings. Inspired by Krautrock and Kate Bush, she at times moves in a way that’s jerky and mechanized, but also seems to flow naturally from her, in rhythm to the music. “I have this new theory that you can’t die if you’re dancing,” she says to the hyped crowd of fans. “So far its worked, maybe you should try it with me.”

Scott mainly performed the new songs off Three Futures, an expansive, thoughtful album about “using the body each of us has been given as a mechanism of joy.” The show was undoubtedly a full sensory experience that not only delighted, but cemented TORRES as an artist with star power and staying power.

Find out more below about TORRES’ favorite LA eats, insights into her new album Three Future, and the benefits of experiencing joy.

Culture Collide: How did you enjoy your day off in LA?
TORRES: I got to eat all the food I haven’t eaten so far. I went to this place called Botanica in Silver Lake. I’m really into cookies but I follow a Paleo diet, and I found these really amazing Paleo cookies at Botanica, and I had an iced cashew milk latte that ruled.

CC: A major theme of Three Futures is indulgence. What made you want to explore these impulses?
T: I think a specific kind of indulgence has been demonized in our culture. I think it’s interesting that being restrictive, especially when it comes to the senses, is what’s considered to be healthy or what’s praised. Like the more restrictive you are, the more you withhold from yourself when it comes to pleasure, that’s considered to be the norm and that’s what’s most socially acceptable, where anything indulgent is considered hedonistic.

I think it’s funny because we are made of senses. That’s what we are. We as people are comprised of senses, of feeling, of physical feelings; our sight, our taste buds, our sexual capabilities. That’s what makes us who we are. I wanted to focus on that.

CC: You sing about utilizing “the body as a mechanism of joy.” What are some ways that you experience joy?
T: I think something that’s really amazing about joy is that it all emanates from the same place. Joy is very cosmic in the same way (to be forthright) I think an orgasm is. I feel that way about joy, but I think the avenues are the senses.

I just told you what I ate for lunch and I know so many people think that’s boring, but to me that’s a huge slice of joy in my life – an amazing cookie, and an amazing coffee. That ultimately brings me the same sense of joy that seeing a really amazing painting does, or watching a really amazing band play music, hearing a record that I love, or laughing with friends. It all ends up leaving me with a similar sheen. It’s something that only comes from treating yourself the right way.

CC: Do you think social media is contributing to taking away people’s joy or disrupting their neutral state of being?
T: I actually think right now, we as a species are at risk of allowing our joy to be completely stolen from us. Again it’s the restrictive mentality around it. There’s a lot of guilt around feeling joy in any capacity because it somehow is tied to selfishness, but joy doesn’t have to be selfish.

When a person has joy emanating from within them, that’s when that person is going to be most helpful to others. I think they are going to do the most good, they are probably going to have the best impact on the planet that they possibly could. I think it starts from within and works its way out, and if you don’t have that center, you’re not going to be able to do the good that you were put here to do, whatever that looks like.

I think that because we’re not able to filter things as rapidly, in order to keep our distance from the negative its become less of a filter and more of an off switch that lends to complete numbness. I don’t think we’re doing ourselves, those around us, or the planet much good when we shut down.

CC: What’s something society should collectively never deny itself of?
T: Oh, wow. Truthfully? Orgasms. And there are several reasons. I think if more people would masturbate they would find that they are able to move with so much more ease through their days in a way that maybe they are inclined to have a cigarette to get through the day. That little thing to look forward to, that release.

If people would go home for their lunch break and masturbate and come back to work, or whatever it was that they were doing, I think people would be astounded by the collective sigh of relief that would come with that. Some may call it hedonistic but when we treat our bodies and minds the way we were created to function as a whole, I just think everything gets better. The ecosystem, the energy that you can feel penetrating the country and the world right now – I wish more people took that to heart.

CC: What should we practice more self-control over?
T: Self-control? There are so many things. Self-control over needing to be the loudest person in any given room, or on any given platform. Self-control over how often we speak and what it is that we speak about. I think language has become really devalued and I think that words are SO important.

People blurt or type whatever they’re thinking and there’s no impulse control. There are negative things that I think we should restrict ourselves more of that are definitely harmful, or can be (like alcohol). Ultimately though flinging our language around like weapons, or using it to silence somebody else. That is really destructive.

CC: How was it re-connecting with Rob Ellis for this record?
T: It was wonderful. We communicate very similarly so he understands what I’m getting at. I had three records that I said, “I want to use these as production reference points. I want to use Portishead, Third, I want to use Fleetwood Mac, Tango In The Night, and I want to use Kate Bush, Hounds of Love. I want to focus on these drum sounds, these kinds of beats, this kind of pop-intention. I want to make an industrial pop record.” And he just got it right from the beginning. There was no getting to know you phase, the comfort was already there.

CC: Do you have a favorite song on the record?
T: The title track, “Three Futures.” I say that because I accomplished exactly what it was I wanted to say in that song. It took me a long time to write it and I finally did it.

CC: I’d love to hear more about the inspiration behind “Righteous Woman.” I grew up in NYC and the lyrics remind me of manspreading on the subway.
T: The physical taking up of space is a huge part of it, and then that as a metaphor for taking up space on a larger scale. Taking up space in conversations, in politics, the workforce. Taking up space in a way that really demands. It commands and it doesn’t ask.

That’s what I’m after.

I don’t just want to command space and attention. I don’t just want to occupy the space that I’m in. I want to do it unapologetically and I want more. I don’t just want the bare minimum. I want to do what men have been doing, as far as I’m concerned, for as long as we’ve all been around.

I’m so over seeing people who have been historically marginalized asking for something but then apologizing for asking for it. I want to wipe it clean. I want to see people who have been historically marginalized like that, who have been pushed out to the edges, I want to see them moving back to the center and reclaiming the space that they’ve been pushed out of. I don’t want them to create a new space – they can if they want to, everyone can do what they want to – but I’m not after a new space. I want to reclaim the space that I haven’t been granted access to and that’s more or less what the song is about. It’s also about lust; straight up sexual desire.

CC: Name an artist you can’t get enough of right now.
T: Man, I have a lot. John Maus. He’s fantastic, he has a new record coming out and all of his records are great. I really love Japanese Breakfast’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet, and St Vincent’s Masseduction. I’m super into  Zola Jesus’ Okovi. I like the new record by The National, Sleep Well Beast. They’ve been my favorite band now for the last several years.

CC: I know Krautrock is a big influence on the record, how did you get into that?
T: My drummer Dominic is really inclined that way, so he got me into all the stuff that he grew up listening to. I got into German Krautrock band Can, for their rhythm stuff which is just insane. That was what I really connected to initially when I started getting into kraut and then you have a band like Kraftwerk that employ all these modular synthesizers.

Basically I got really obsessed with combining all these elements that would layer on top of each other that would essentially create a pop record but without you really realizing that that’s what it is. Stiff, tight rhythms layered with modular synths, and a pop melody with Abba grooves. That’s the kind of record that I wanted to make.

Halloween is coming up, are you a fan, do you participate?
T: I’m a fan of fall in general. I can’t say I’m crazy about Halloween but only because it wasn’t really a thing in my house growing up. I’ve always loved autumn as a concept. I love the weather. Halloween itself I could take it or leave it. A year or two ago I dressed up as Charlize Theron in Monster and my friend dressed up as Christina Ricci. It was a big hit. Just kidding, nobody knew who we were.

Fri. 10/20 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT, Kilby Court
Sat. 10/21 – DENVER, CO, Larimer Lounge
Mon. 10/23 – ST. LOUIS, MO, Off Broadway
Tue. 10/24 – NASHVILLE, TN, High Watt
Wed. 10/25 – COLUMBUS, OH, The Basement
Fri. 10/27 – BROOKLYN, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sat. 11/4 – REYKJAVIK, IS, Iceland Airwaves
Tue. 11/7 – MANCHESTER, UK, Soup Kitchen
Wed. 11/8 – LONDON, UK, Tufnell Park Dome
Thu. 11/9 – BRIGHTON, UK, The Haunt
Fri. 11/10 – PARIS, FR, Le Point Ephemere
Sat. 11/11 – AMSTERDAM, NL, Bitterzoet
Tue. 11/13 – COLOGNE, DE, Gebaude 9
Wed. 11/14 – HAMBURG, DE, Waagenbau
Thu. 11/15 – BERLIN, DE, Kantine am Berghain
Fri. 11/16 – MUNICH, DE, Ampere
Sun. 11/18 – BRUSSELS, BE, Botanique Rotonde