How do we go from killing our body to caring for it? How do we go from thinking to dancing?
Torres - real name Mackenzie Scott - offers no answers in her upcoming album 'Three Futures'. But it's clear that she has transferred herself from the moored mind to the wily, flighty body. Offering a departure from the stillness of her previous album, 'Three Futures' demands to be listened to with the whole body. First, your fingers tap and your feet recreate the bass, behind your open eyes you see the 'Bad Baby Pie' that Torres has baked, and you smell its peachiness as cartoonish waves of steam-scent dance up into your nose.
Forgetting our minds for just a moment, 'Three Futures' envisions the human body as a site of receptivity. It contains all the sex and splendour of a dance. It takes place in a house, like the one you've seen in the music videos released for 'Three Futures' and 'Skim'. Torres plays three characters in the former.
One of whom is the archetypal housewife that takes care of the house, in the same way a body should be. Since, the body is a house – as Torres imagines it - where each scent in all its succulence is a room, roofed over by a head.
No stranger to the body herself, Anais Nin once said that "music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together", and in 'Three Futures', Torres does just that.
We spoke to her to find out just how she got to this point.
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There's a real Krautrock inspiration on much of this new album.
Yeah Krautrock is a huge inspiration, for sure. I was listening to a lot of Can and Kraftwerk while I was writing, they were huge for me. Kate Bush was like my number one, actually, for this. 'The Dreaming' is my favourite Kate Bush… Strangely 'Hounds Of Love', even though it’s her most popular one, it’s also still an underrated album, and she is generally underrated.
That album and Portishead were huge for me. I loved the first record obviously, everybody does but 'Third', their third record, is actually the one I really drew from for sonic influence and especially rhythmically.
And Gary Numan, people that’ve gotten kind of overlooked like Gary Numan who was a synth pioneer. Really he was one of the first people to use to Moog in the way that he does. So in a lot of ways I find myself using my guitar in the way that I hear Gary Numan playing his synthesizer. Everything is inspired by something, you know. I like for each album I make to hopefully be rooted in some kind of, like, a nod to history, but also facing toward the future. I always want to do something as new as possible as well.
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Kate Bush was like my number one, actually, for this...
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Why did you choose this moment to look back at those influences?
I became really naturally drawn to particularly those European and British sort of industrial dance bands. You know, the ones that were making industrial disco beats and using all kinds of really pioneering modular synthesisers. You know, modular synths, that was the era for it. And I think my ear is just naturally, these days, drawn to that combination of instruments; that modular world and the rhythmic disco beats plus the super poppy melodies though they don’t exactly translate as pop songs because of the production.
I’ve really just been drawn to records that I can move to. I like to dance and it’s kind of, dancing actually takes up a whole lot of my time now, by myself, you know, I’m not a good dancer, just dancing. Dancing alone in my kitchen, and also walking. I think I’m always looking for a really great mid-tempo groove to get into when I’m walking and so my ear is just naturally drawn to that kind of a pace.
How did you go from something intellectual (previous album, 'Sprinter') to something physical and dance-evoking in this album? How did you go from the mind to the body?
I just... I wanted to have a little more fun. That can mean a lot of things but, I think when I was touring 'Sprinter' I had a lot of fun for sure, performance and connection is fun generally, but I wanted to move beyond just the delivery of the songs themselves, strumming big power chords, making big statements in that way, it is super fun but it kind of didn’t leave me anywhere to go. It was just all about getting the lyrics out, playing the big chords, and rocking the ending, making a lot of noise.
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I wanted to move beyond just the delivery of the songs themselves...
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And I wanted to incorporate more nuance into the performance and I wanted a bit more structure and that’s a huge part of getting more nuance into a recording and into a performance. There has to be a really strong frame to support the song so that you have more room to move within that architecture. Because otherwise it leaves me having to sort of fill in all of the gaps with my guitar, it doesn’t leave me a lot of time or room within the song to do other things like dance or interact with the crowd.”
When you performed 'Sprinter' live you were relying on your voice and face to be emotive. With an album like 'Three Futures', you can rely on the body and that doesn't require other people to look at your face so much.
Which I love! It makes me feel a lot better. You’re right, I think that also there are so many aspects of what happens on stage when you’re performing, you think it's translating but then maybe it doesn't because people are too far away they can’t exactly see the face you’re making, they can’t see the small motions, so I wanted to make room for more dramatic movement with my entire body.
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The album cover and music videos are set within the same room, and the album itself certainly conjures a claustrophobic atmosphere. Is there a sense that the album takes place in one room?
Well, within a house. I kind of started with this idea of having this house I built mentally that represented a manifestation of the subconscious for me. I started thinking about, isn’t it kind of interesting if, say, the whole house is the subconscious and each room is a pocket of the subconscious... Like, each room represents something different.
And then I started thinking about it in more literal terms, like OK: let's build this house. What if each song represented one of the rooms in this house that I’m building? And so I kind of ran with that idea.
I started thinking about the senses and how I could stimulate each of the senses, because in my opinion, using the senses to celebrate the body is a form of worship, it’s a form of gratitude, and a form of extreme joy, so I started thinking about the senses, and wouldn’t it be interesting if each room in this house that I’m constructing incorporated different colour schemes, colour palettes, two to three smells, and what if each room had a name.
That’s exactly what my director, Ashley Connor, and I considered for the video and album cover. We chose to set the videos and album within this house because we wanted to keep that theme cohesive.
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Using the senses to celebrate the body is a form of worship...
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And this move towards the body also seems to be a move towards the sexual. You’ve shown the body as being quite sexual. The album cover sees you in a suit with a naked woman behind you. Was that an easy way in for you?
Well, nothing’s easy. Sexuality is a huge thread that I’ve woven throughout the album for sure, but as a part of that grander architecture of just general sensuality, the complete indulgence of the senses, and so sexuality is definitely a huge part of that. And I wanted it to feel just as natural transitioning into that mode in the lyrics and in the videos and the art and everything.
I wanted that to feel as natural as the other senses that I’m exploring, the mentions of food, and the mentions of perfume, and different smells and colours. I wanted that part of it to roll off the tongue in the same way that those others do, not for shock factor, just because it’s part of life, it’s a huge part of life, sexuality.
Do you feel like you’re fully a part of your body now or is it just an intellectual interpretation of it?
I feel like I finally… I’m always at war with my body, like many are, for one reason or another, but I did have a sort of enlightenment period about my body, which is... My body is the home that I occupy, it holds my brain and my organs and, you know, everything that I love is in my brain - which is also in my body - and I think that my whole life there’s that initial sort of conservative modesty mentality, like “oh, well I have to hide my body”.
Then you’re in middle school, high school, whatever, and you’re going through puberty and then it's like, oh you don’t really love your body then, and then you’re going through all sorts of hormonal changes. And then I went to college and then that was the period of abuse, that was the period when abusing the body began. You know, drink too much, or eat bad food or whatever.
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I’m always at war with my body, like many are...
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It took me basically my whole life up until this point to have that enlightenment about loving the body, and it’s not something to be abused. Not only because we only get one in our lifetime, you know, but also because there’s just more joy to be had when you’re not abusing the home that you’re living in, and the body is the home that we’re living in, so I think I finally started to wrap my head around that when I was making this album.
So I have found extreme joy in that, there’s joy to be had in indulging the senses and also just taking care of oneself, you know, eating the right way. Moving, moving is huge. I hope that however this album sits with people, whatever people end up taking from it, I do ultimately hope that it ends up being healing in some way or inspiring some kind of joy.
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'Three Futures' will be released on September 29th via 4AD. Catch Torres at the following shows:
7 Manchester Soup Kitchen
8 London Tufnell Park Dome
9 Brighton The Haunt
Words: Emma Madden
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