Culture Envy: Chatting with Cassidy Mackenzie

The electronic dance music artist talks about her covers on TikTok and her upcoming singles

Cassidy Mackenzie, from her YouTube video covering the song “Without Me” by Halsey. (submitted)

At four years old, Cassidy Mackenzie began violin lessons and fell in love with music. Shortly after, she expanded to guitar, bass, drums, and piano.

In Sept. 2020, while living in her parents’ apartment in Vancouver, Mackenzie posted a cover of the 1975’s song “If You’re Too Shy”, which got over 150,000 views.

Now, only eight months later, she has over 325,000 followers on TikTok, sharing her covers and promoting her music.

“I didn’t expect them to go anywhere at all. I was actually really surprised and kind of scared when the first one got a little bit of attention, but it’s been really cool,” Mackenzie says.

“I’ve found a really awesome group of friends online because it’s so positive on there. It’s been the best experience using TikTok and I never expected that.”

From pop-punk covers to TV theme songs, she’s performed her favourite was covering the “Scooby-Doo” theme song.

“I had a blast doing that, and was the one that got the best and most positive reaction,” Mackenzie says. “I was a huge ‘Scooby-Doo’ nerd when I was little too.”

Mackenzie spends anywhere between four to nine hours working on each cover. She says the songs have helped her create her music.

The 22-year-old EDM singer-songwriter went to Nashville’s Belmont University in 2017 to study songwriting.

With a “High School Musical” atmosphere in her classes, Mackenzie would recreate songs in the studios at Belmont. Mackenzie says it was an “awesome way” to analyze various songs from songwriting, production, and audio engineering perspective.

“It’s like diving into it. You learn so much with each different track. So I just wanted to continue doing that,” she says. “Then I was like ‘TikTok’s cool, I might as well put them on TikTok.'”

During the pandemic, Mackenzie has been attending her classes online, and being at home more often has helped her make time for more practice.

“Normally, especially in your early 20s, you’d be going out and seeing lots of people. I’ve literally just been like everyone, stuck here being obsessive about the music. I’ve learned way more and practiced way more than I would, which has been the opposite of a challenge.”

Mackenzie’s first single, “Wish,” came out in February of 2019 and was recorded with Canadian producer Ryan Stewart, who worked with artists such as Simple Plan and Carly Rae Jepsen. She performed on “The Morning Show” in Toronto a month after its release.

This year, Mackenzie has released two singles: “History” and “Cry for You” with European EDM artists Jonth and Brieuc.

She stumbled into the electronic genre by accident. When the first stay-at-home restrictions started in March last year, Mackenzie began connecting with EDM producers over Zoom and writing lyrics for their tracks.

Being in the EDM scene for a bit, Mackenzie says she wants to begin moving towards a mix of rock and pop in her music.

“I’m trying to do a mix of that with sort of modern pop, modern hip-hop because I feel like a lot of other people are doing that. Machine Gun, Kelly, and Youngblood are doing that. And I listened to that I’m like ‘Oh crap, this is really damn cool.'”

Mackenzie’s music is inspired by artists like Avril Lavigne, Paramore, and Halsey.

At the moment, Mackenzie is working on a lot of original material. She’s planning on putting out a few singles in the next couple of months.

“I’d say the biggest thing is to learn a ton and put yourself out there. Because I think especially what I learned with the TikTok stuff was it’s really scary to post your stuff and put your stuff out there,” she says.

“But the more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the more practice you’re going to get. So just learn. Put yourself out there, practice a ton, and it’ll pay off.”