Mackenzie Nicole: Chronicles Of A Mental Health Journey
Updated: Jul 20
Mackenzie Nicole has been a rising star since 2009, when she was 9 years old. She made her claim to fame on her collaboration with icon Tech N9ne’s K.O.D.. In Spring of 2018, 18 year old Nicole released her debut album The Edge. This album resulted in over 1 million streams on Spotify as well as over 8 million views for her videos on YouTube. Her shows were selling out she was living the dream. Or so it seemed. From the lens of Nicole, these weren’t such great times. In fact, Nicole confessed that these were the worst six months of her life. She was suffering a mental breakdown and was facing thoughts of suicide. Through an extended period of therapy and endless soul searching, Nicole brought herself to explore a topic that is very personal to her and needs to be explored; the nature of mental illness. Nicole explains, “This album is autobiographical and documents a crucial period of my life. When the time came to begin creating the album, I knew I needed to chronicle my odyssey of mental health and wellness. Thus, Mystic was born.”
Mystic is a concept album which, according to Nicole, is expressing the stages of mental health recovery. Nicole expressed, “The first chapter is the dark chapter. It’s “the rabbit hole”. The second is a transitional chapter “Purgatory”. The final chapter is “Oxygen”. It’s about how recovery isn’t a two step journey. It’s an extended process. In therapy, I learned how to break my bad habits and ultimately save myself. That’s the tale of Mystic and what the album means to me.”
Mystic kicks off with “Heart Of Darkness”, which showcases a glimpse of the darkness in Nicole’s personal journey. With its raw acoustic guitar and folky sound, Nicole is exploring the “rabbit hole” aspect of depression. “Five Months, Four Days” is a further glimpse into the darkness of Nicole’s journey. This is particularly about new love fading away and coming back to reality in the aftermath of a breakup. The struggle is to find the motivation to move forward for your own good. “Fun” is a further showcase of falling into the rabbit hole phase and being able to enjoy the solitude within the devastation. “A Cut Rose In Tap Water” showcases not being able to permanently escape within her mind, as reality will always find a way to creep back.
“The House Above The World” is the beginning of the second stage, purgatory. Nicole is seeking help all on her own as she rises above her troubled thoughts to a level of consciousness where she feels safe within her inner self and seeking a guiding spirit. “Happy” explores the inability to make others around her happy and the isolation that comes out of it. I especially imagine this was something Nicole struggled greatly with, considered she seemed to have made the dream. “Stay” expresses the long for understanding within her personal experiences of depression. Just to have company with someone who understands what she’s going through. “Was” explores feeling like a shadow of the person she used to be, while letting her depression fuel her to be a better person.
“Grow Old” is about how people never really change as they age. The core of who we are will always remain, we just merely grow older. It’s perhaps begging us to accept the person we are and the skin that we live in. Acceptance of things that can’t be changed is the only way we can truly love ourselves and the world around us. “I Still Hope You’re Okay” is about still wishing the best for those who are no longer in her life. “Pick Out A Cloud” is about looking up and appreciating something better than herself amidst overcoming depression and self loathing. “Goodbye” showcases the the light third chapter, oxygen. This song is about leaving behind her ways of self harm, overcoming depression and seeking a healthy and loving path.
Mystic showcases an artist applying her personal experience of darkness to bring a sense of substance and edge back to pop music. Nicole states, “I wanted to make this music because it’s a story I needed to tell. I’m not the only person who’s been through this. I’m not the only person who has broken down and felt like the only one in the world. I know that to be true. Maybe I can help others avoid making some of the mistakes I did.”