Torres’ ‘Three Futures’ is a Moody Dollhouse of a Record
There are a lot of tricks for preserving memories — one being the Memory Palace, a mental location where you can store things you don’t want to slip through the cracks of your consciousness.
Torres’ newest album, Three Futures, is a kind of Memory Palace made of music, a collection of songs she structured as 10 rooms in an imaginary house — allowing the listener to essentially enter each track and stay a while.
Three Futures is the third record from 26-year-old Mackenzie Scott, a.k.a. Torres, following her critically acclaimed 2015 sophomore release, Sprinter and her 2013 self-titled debut. It’s a dollhouse of a record, one that Torres filled with smells, colors and décor and assigned to each song.
“Three Futures” takes a look at love gone cold, wreathed in the smell of bergamot perfume (“You got me loaded/on bergamot perfume/downstairs in/the TV room”). “To Be Given” is the smell of impending winter, a celebration of being alive (“His right shoulder/your left shoulder/drowsy on the ski lift”). And “Helen in the Woods” is a pine-smelling childhood nightmare, the story of a stalker or a ghost hiding in the brambles (“Keep an eye out good/because Helen’s in the woods”).
TIDAL spoke with Torres a bit about the album’s blueprints:
I’m really interested in the way you see yourself — or the way the narrator sees herself — throughout the record. There’s a part where you call yourself an ‘ass man’ in ‘Righteous Woman,’ and you see yourself as a pie in ‘Bad Baby Pie.’ What role do body and persona play in this record?
The ‘ass man’ reference is more me exploring ways that I actually see myself — whether they amplify a sexy version of myself. It’s more about that than [seeing myself] as a man. But, then again, I do, in my day-to-day life, identify with men. I often feel as if I am a man internally, although I’ve never identified that way. But I’ve always felt that way. I’m just turning things up a bit with that reference specifically. I’m turning up the part of me that feels like I am a man; I’m turning up the part that feels like a sexier version of myself.
It’s hard to sexualize myself in my day-to-day, because we know ourselves so well and we spend all of our time with ourselves. It’s hard to see yourself in that way. I get to do it in the art, so that’s really fun.
‘Bad Baby Pie’ was about a near-death experience, and a pie is not living; a pie is food. The way that I intended to write about myself in that song was as something that wasn’t quite living. A pie can be cut into and sliced in many ways and that’s kind of how I felt about myself in the song. Vulnerable to being cut into.
Another thing that I was intrigued by was the idea that there are these alternate realities out there, which you sing about in ‘Three Futures’. Where did that song come from? Do you believe life is predestined?
The most direct answer I can give to the latter part of the question is I haven’t always felt this way; it’s a more recent development, the way I’ve begun to structure my belief system of reality. I do, at this point in my life, feel as if there are infinite possibilities. But at the same time, the different possibilities could potentially lead us to the same… I don’t want to say ‘ending’ because I don’t necessarily believe in those, either.
Another song that stood out to me was ‘Helen in the Woods.’ Is Helen a real person or is it an abstract concept? She seems like kind of a childhood boogeyman.
A bit of both. The song is loosely based on a friend of mine who actually had a stalker. I sort of took it and ran with it. Who knows if Helen is still alive; she could be the ghost in the woods. But that’s the loose concept.
I know you’ve said that each song on this record is a different room in a kind of imaginary house. Over the course of the record, it often seems like the listener is opening a door and seeing a little bit of your life. In ‘To Be Given a Body,’ the image of you or the narrator on the ski lift with who seem to be your parents struck me. It just seemed like such an intimate moment. I’m curious how you constructed or pulled these moments out to build this house.
I think that this is the first time where I went into writing an album knowing that there were some things that I wanted. One of them was this house that I wanted to build. The music I was hearing in my head was presenting itself as architecture, essentially.
I don’t write music; I can’t read music. I’ve had years and years of theory that I’ve completely forgotten. So I was trying to write out what I was hearing in my head and it was coming to me as lines, and I realized I was constructing these different houses. When I was drawing these lines, it looked like architecture.
So I gave myself some parameters. I knew I would need a color scheme for each of the rooms and I wanted to be super specific about it. One thing that has gotten me into trouble in the past was not giving myself enough parameters and feeling like I had too many options. In the past, I’ve sort of just thrown a bunch of things in a song, sonically or otherwise.
So I chose a limited color scheme for each of the rooms and the house. Two colors generally. I chose a combination of scents for each of the rooms. I assigned different sensory experiences like that to each of the rooms, and that’s basically how the entire album was constructed.
Then I tried to, within the lyrics, really sprinkle in references to building materials, construction materials, concrete. It goes on and on. Different types of wood, metals, the elements and food. Things that we experience with our senses. And then I got my house.
What kind of house is it? Do you know? What does the house look like?
I feel like the only thing I don’t know is what it actually looks like. I know what the interior looks like; that was the main thing. It’s funny I didn’t take a step back and look at my house. My idea was to have that house also be a manifestation of my conscious. To really walk around and into those rooms and lighten them up and make them places I want to live, because I have to live in that house forever.
(Photo Credit: Ashley Connor)
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