Performance Date: Sunday July 23
Stage: Vera Stage
Set Time: TBA
TORRES knows the darkness. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter otherwiseknown as Mackenzie Scott waits until anything—an idea, an emotion, amemory—gnaws at her, tearing at her fingers and throat until she releases it insong. Her husky voice strains against its human biological constraints like a wild-eyed horse, whispering desperately "Don't give up on me just yet" on one endand yowling about jealousy with unnerving intensity on the other. Following herself-titled debut in 2013, TORRES pushes herself to even noisier extremes onSprinter, a punishing self-examination of epic spiritual and musical proportions.A keen awareness of Scott's place in her family and in the world suffusesSprinter, contributing to themes of alienation throughout. "You're just a firstbornfeeling left behind," she sings on the ominously brewing "Son, You Are NoIsland," which references one of Scott's influences on this record: English poetJohn Donne's 1624 poem Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. Scott's torturedwailing circles spirals downward around itself, reflecting in a dark mirror thefeelings of an adopted child. "Whether it be abandonment, or fear of rejection, orperhaps inability to connect with people, comes down to that fear of isolation, ofnot being good enough," says Scott. "Those are themes that have cropped up inmy personal life, in my writing.”"Scott escaped the confines of her churning mind in order to find herself byrecording Sprinter in the market town of Bridport in Dorset, England with co-producer Rob Ellis; and then at the Bristol studio of Portishead's Adrian Utley.With his guitar riffs and synthesizers lingering in the background like a lowlandmist and PJ Harvey's Robert Ellis and Ian Olliver on rhythm—the two fortuitouslyreuniting 23 years after the release of Dry, and in Scott's 23rd year of living—shecrafted a "space cowboy" record. "That's as simply as I can say it," says Scott,who cites inspirations as diverse as Funkadelic and Nirvana, Ray Bradbury andJoan Didion. I wanted something that very clearly stemmed from my Southernconservative roots but that sounded futuristic and space-y at the same time."It seems like an odd thing to look for in the picturesque seaside green, rolling hillsin the south of England, but Scott had never been there before, and as a strangerin a strange land she found what she was looking for: a lost childhood. Sprinterwas recorded in a room that had formerly been used as a children's nursery,which combined with the alien landscape fuels the self-searching that roilsTORRES' music. "Cowboy Guilt" perfectly encapsulates the contrast of DeepSouth conservatism with future sounds, juxtaposing George W. Bush parodieswith wearing one's Sunday best, bouncing on a mechanically whimsical melody.After all, it was Scott's Baptist upbringing 4,000 miles away in Macon, Ga. thatgave her a voice in the first place. When her parents gave her an acoustic guitarat age 15, after giving her flute and piano lessons before that, she would singchurch hymns at the local nursing home to get over her stage fright. As Scottmoved away from organized religion toward something far more real andpersonal ("I still think of myself as quite God-fearing," she says), she ranged
farther from home, to Nashville—where she grappled with her outsider status yetagain, faced with an insular music scene as hard to break into as if it weresurrounded by England's famous hedgerows—and then to New York, where shefinally felt another semblance of being at home."Nashville was just a bit too small for me," she says. "I don’t really like walking
down the street and knowing everyone that I see along the way. I was raised in a
small town and there are very special things about it, but I don’t prefer to live that
way. I like the chaos of the city."