Q&A with Canada-based Spencer Mackenzie, got the blues power in his soul, his youthful hope with an eye toward the future

"Blues Music is all around us and has been for a very long time. Blues has been and still is the foundation for many art forms, not just music. Whether it be: Music, Film, Literature, Social Media, Story Telling, etc... People expressing their views and experiences with blues is a powerful way to reach an audience."

Spencer Mackenzie: Preach To My Soul

At 22 years of age, Spencer Mackenzie has celebrated three 2019 Independent Blues Awards Nominations for Blues Rock CD, Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Blues Song, Niagara Music Awards Blues Artist of The Year, Maple Blues Awards New Artist of The Year, 3rd Place International Songwriting Competition winner in the blues category, and Toronto Blues Society Talent Search Winner. He accomplished this and recording his new album while completing four years of college as a music major and now honours graduate at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Preach to my Soul, Mackenzie’s third studio album, is set for release on August 12th with the title track released as a single on all streaming platforms on June 3rd. He pushed the boundaries with his talent, passion, and an incredible team behind the album with Emmy Award Winner and Juno Nominated producer Ross Hayes-Citrullo and Juno award winner Steve Strongman appearing on "Paranoia Blues", and many more talented musicians all giving their incredible talent to this album.            (Spencer Mackenzie / Photo by Sydney-Marie J. Cross)

Mackenzie has developed a tone, a vintage sound, a style that resonates and phrasing of a seasoned pro. Music is language. Words matter as do notes. Where they reside in a solo and how when layered they sometimes crunch and distort, at others sing and sting, is where his artistry resides in this new album. Locating one's roots the phrase can infer denoted roots or “routes” – that journey back in time, the history that preceded or the path forward. Some tracks have a heavier guitar feel, some intricate blues all influenced with more of a blues-rock intent behind it. Preach To My Soul is a new direction for Spencer, it is sure to captivate the true blues audiences while crossing the barriers to inspire the blues-rock, soul and roots fans!

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

In today's world there are a lot of great artists in the blues rock genre that speak their minds in their songs lyrically. This has allowed me to gain more knowledge whether it be from a political, social, or personal standpoint listening to their music. That being said this has helped me in developing My Musicianship and career.          

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My creative drive comes from watching and studying great blues legends like: B.B King, Muddy Waters, SRV, Eric Clapton etc... With that being said I would describe my song book as a combination of not only those artists I just mentioned, but modern-day artists that that have inspired me like: Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Gary Clark Jr. and many more.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

There have been so many great memories and hopefully more to come, but one of my favorites was getting the opportunity to play a string of shows with Steve Strongman in Quebec and Ontario. I grew up listening to his music and saw him play when I was in my early teens. Then 4/5 years later as I was, and still am making a name for myself, I got to share that initial excitement I had when I first saw him, but this time I was alongside him at places like the Mont Tremblant Blues Festival in Quebec and Hugh’s Room in Toronto. Now I can say he is truly a friend and also has a feature on the song Paranoia Blues on my upcoming album, Preach To My Soul!

"In today's world there are a lot of great artists in the blues rock genre that speak their minds in their songs lyrically. This has allowed me to gain more knowledge whether it be from a political, social, or personal standpoint listening to their music. That being said this has helped me in developing My Musicianship and career." (Spencer Mackenzie / Photo by Sydney-Marie J. Cross)

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Although I would say I am still paying my dues, I can say that I miss being able to see some of the greats that have recently passed away. I can safely say my hopes are to see as many great acts as I can, because I am afraid of not getting the chance to see my idols play live before it's too late.

Artists and labels will have to adapt to the new changes. What are your predictions for the music industry? How do you think the music industry will adapt to it?

I think that certain parts of the music industry will have to adapt to specific things regarding genres. With new genres being made every day there is so much great new music that has never been made before, but is still influenced by a mixture of the greats. My prediction is that Blues and Rock labels, festivals, or venues will open up to a larger variety of music. With that change I hope that the music industry will adapt by reaching out to newer audiences as new genres of Blues and Rock are being made.

What would you say characterizes Ontario blues scene in comparison to other local Canadian scenes and circuits?

 Although I am still branching out to new Provinces. I would say diversity is the perfect way to characterize the blues scene here in Ontario for a number of reasons. The first one being that we have multiple blues societies in different cities and towns all through the province that work together and support artists all over Canada. Each city has their own strong suit whether it be Blues Rock, Traditional Blues, or Jazz Blues. The second reason that Ontario has a diverse Blues scene is because we host multiple events that bring in artists from all over Canada to network with each other from all over Canada like the Toronto Blues Society Maple Blues Awards and Blues Summit.

"My creative drive comes from watching and studying great blues legends like: B.B King, Muddy Waters, SRV, Eric Clapton etc... With that being said I would describe my song book as a combination of not only those artists I just mentioned, but modern-day artists that that have inspired me like: Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Gary Clark Jr. and many more." (Spencer Mackenzie / Photo by Sydney-Marie J. Cross)

What is the impact of the Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Blues Music is all around us and has been for a very long time. Blues has been and still is the foundation for many art forms, not just music. Whether it be: Music, Film, Literature, Social Media, Story Telling, etc... People expressing their views and experiences with blues is a powerful way to reach an audience. I say this because Blues, when done right, has soul behind it, and when you express that soul to your audience through your outlet it is bound to find a way into their soul. This affects people because it allows them to experience their emotions louder and take action when they open up to an artist's material. Whether these audience members are supporting causes or creating their own causes, Blues is one of the things that can drive that inspiration for a person. I express blues to people not only with what I am saying or playing, but with who I am being when I play this soulful music called Blues. That is what this New Album Preach To My Soul is all about.            

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt on my journey so far in playing this style of music is to see as many shows and go to as many jams whenever I can during a festival or string of shows, because on the road whether it be at festivals or one off gigs you never know who you will have the opportunity to see or jam with. The amount of jams in clubs after a full days lineup at a festival or other shows going on that night in the city/town is always a great place to be because not only are you getting to see the local talent and make connections but you may also see people you admire either playing in those venues or watching people play, and that’s how I’ve made some of my greatest musical connections with others.

Spencer Mackenzie - Home

(Spencer Mackenzie / Photo by Sydney-Marie J. Cross)

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