At a young age, Mackenzie told her mom that she had music inside her “that needed to come out.” Her mother would check in on her at night to find her fingers playing the piano in her sleep. She wrote her first song as a four-year-old. At eight years old she would go to the movies and come right home to figure out the score on the piano. Always at the mercy of the muse inside, Shivers has continued honing her craft ever since. This included a degree in music composition from Vanderbilt University, which also gained her access to Nashville’s vibrant country scene.
Though she’s lived in NYC for almost a decade, Shivers’ music reflects many different landscapes. The Tampa-born artist with the Celtic soul underpins her classical training with an emotional essence that results in a full-bodied sound. You can hear it all, from the influence of the South, where she spent her childhood years visiting family in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, to the Irish and Scottish heritage which lends her music a distinctly Celtic flavor.
Where debut album, Neverland, was influenced by the loss of people who were very important to her, the new EP, Living in My Head, finds Shivers in a much happier place. Having recently gotten married (in Ireland, no less) and embracing the daily adventure that is life in NYC, these new themes find their way into each song. The other big difference is the fullness of the sound, a result of having played in bands such as Kenyon Phillips & The Ladies in Waiting, Lance Breakfast, and Bellehouse. The purity of her voice and message remain, but there’s an added richness provided by Yuka Tadano on bass, Cody Rahn on drums, Mike Ceglio on guitar, Sarah Haines on vocals and viola, and Kami Dimitrova and Jess T. Clinton on backing vocals. Chris Wallitsch, the sound engineer behind Neverland, produced the new record.
The EP represents the challenge of stepping outside yourself and living in the present world, and it’s a theme that is matched by the music. There’s an adventurous spirit to the record which sees Shivers expand upon her traditional influences, such as The Chieftains, Elton John, and Joni Mitchell and embellish them with the richness of Florence and the Machine. Listening to it leaves you in no doubt that you’ve entered the vibrant and imaginative world of its creator.
As with all true artists, Shivers’ sound is both constantly evolving yet instantly recognizable. With Living in My Head, the starlet has recorded a collection of songs which will leave a lasting impression on every listener.