EOT 334-McKenzie Van Oss

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Speaking with McKenzie Van Oss, singer, songwriter, and ballet soloist about how she's single-handedly launched her own music career centered around inclusivity, diversification, and self-impowerment. We discuss females in the music business, the benefits of genre fluidity, and the importance of being a part of a community.

Provided by Otter.ai

Alecsai Allen 0:00
The views and opinions expressed during Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or NC State Student Media. You are currently tuned in to Eye on the Triangle on WKNC 88.1 FM HD one. Thanks for listening.

Alecsai Allen 0:29
I'm Alecsai Allen with WKNC at 88.1 Eye on the Triangle. Today I'm speaking with ballet soloist, singer songwriter and maybe up and coming producer McKenzie Vanoss we'll be discussing her image and sound as an artist, her presence as a female in the music industry, and her musical impact on social institutions. We'll also get to hear about some new music she has in the works. Thank you for joining me today, Mackenzie.

McKenzie VanOss 0:54
Hello, everybody. My name is McKenzie Vanoss I am a person in Raleigh just creating stuff. So I'm with the Carolina ballet. I'm a soloist and I also play music. About to release a single in late October. Just kind of throw that out there. Excited to be here. Thank you, Alecsai.

Alecsai Allen 1:20
You're a multi genre artist. And by that I just mean like, You're talented at several different arts. Like you're a dancer, you're a singer songwriter, you're a producer, did you produce your own music, right?

McKenzie VanOss 1:33
Yeah, I like started learning how to do that stuff. And over, like, in September I started and then I like, created everything like made scratch tracks and now I'm like sending into some more like working together. Shout out to promos out. That's like helping me you know, get it to where that professional level.

Alecsai Allen 1:58

McKenzie VanOss 1:58
That I can't really get myself because I don't have the tools, equipment, and time to learn a whole different thing. But I definitely like love to, to just go on deeper and create like a whole song not just with me and my guitar. It's awesome.

Alecsai Allen 2:19
You mentioned you joined the Carolina ballet, which was in 2014. I guess what I want to know is how did your ballet career transition into your musical career? Or like when you made that transition?

McKenzie VanOss 2:32
Honestly, quarantine like

McKenzie VanOss 2:34
Oh so it's recently.

McKenzie VanOss 2:35
It's so recent. Like I would play open mics, like, like one or two a season. When I first got here, just like me and my uke, like little baby me. No like expectation or anything. And then over quarantine, like I wrote this, I wrote a pop song. And I was like, I want this. I had a vision for the song. There's just so much more than what it is with just me and piano. I was like, I did this book called The artists way. Yeah. And it basically just catapulted me into being like, I want to do this and then everything kind of like I put myself out there and it things started come to me. It was like, it's pretty nuts. You know?

Alecsai Allen 3:22
Yeah, people show interest in your art and you're like, oh, maybe I am talented at this. Yeah, kind of like an epiphany moment, glad that you brought up the a pop song. But you didn't bring up the music video, but I'm gonna bring on music. Because I want to talk about your vision for the music video and all the people that were involved in its production. One of the themes we cover on Eye on the Triangle is diversity and inclusion and your music video for a pop song very much stressed this. It also portrayed you as the powerful female lead setting an example for women everywhere who feel awkward or out of place in their industry or even day to day life. I like that you're like genre fluid. I don't know artists, like you've incorporate dance, but then you can also sing and you write your own songs.

McKenzie VanOss 3:22
I just don't like the idea of a box, like someone just like putting you in a certain label or box and then being like,

Alecsai Allen 4:17
you have to stay there

McKenzie VanOss 4:19
yea like, I have such an aversion

Alecsai Allen 4:22

McKenzie VanOss 4:24
So I'm like, I want to do this. So I'm going to do it. You know, I don't care what it's called. This is just who I am. So, you know,

Alecsai Allen 4:33
I thought the people in your music video were very cool and I don't know them.

Alecsai Allen 4:36
My friends.

Alecsai Allen 4:37
They are they're all your friends?

McKenzie VanOss 4:38
They're all ballet dancers in the company. So you know, I wanted dancing, obviously. And I was like, Well, I have you know, I work at the right place. So that worked out and then I wanted like, I wanted men I wanted women I wanted. Honestly, I wanted gay. I wanted Diversity, I just wanted everyone to be seen and everyone to be different. Because like everyone I want, like not everyone's going to relate to me, you know, all the time. But like I wanted to put people that someone could always like relate to, and like to see themselves because it's so cool when you can like see something and be like, Oh, she's so cool or he's so cool. I want to be like that. You know what I mean?

Alecsai Allen 5:27

McKenzie VanOss 5:28
it's important.

Alecsai Allen 5:29
I want to go back to talking about working with your brother because I, so I have three brothers. I have three brothers so I'm very much a like, Boss type, female,

McKenzie VanOss 5:40
youngest or?

Alecsai Allen 5:41
I'm the second oldest, I have an older brother. And the two younger ones, I'm really close with all of them. So when I read that you work with your brother, I was just because I know my mindset. It would be very fun to work with my brothers, but I know there'd be that little like, competitive. We're very competitive. So I just there be that little competitive nature. So I guess I was just wondering, working with your brother, is there any sort of competition? Or has it always kind of been like, a completely collaborative effort?

McKenzie VanOss 6:08
Honestly, like, I, I don't feel honestly that I can even be on the level to like, compete with my brother. That's how I feel. Because, I mean, my brother is an incredible musician, like guitarist, drummer, piano. Because like, I mean, he's been doing it his whole life. Like, I learned it when I was a kid, but then I focused on ballet. So like, me picking it up again. I'm just not at that level. Like, I can't, I don't have all the time

Alecsai Allen 6:37

McKenzie VanOss 6:38
to be like, you know,

Alecsai Allen 6:39
you're like, you already have this, like, one up on me. That's good.

McKenzie VanOss 6:43
And the thing is, it's like, it's not a bad thing. It's actually like, it's good. And we have different styles, kind of, I think I'm a little more like, mainstream and like, but I mean, he's my inspiration for like, I mean, both of my brothers, you know, an older one, too. That's an actor. So like, the film, the music, it's like, all of that. They have influenced me. What I like, you know, what moves me? Um, what I stand for. So I if he feels that way about me, I don't know. But like, honestly, I'm just, this is, this is awesome. We're like laughing in the face, right? Making this, we come up with something we do that do that and start tying that in for like, 20 minutes, my parents would come down and be like, what do you guys let me show them? And then what is so fun? It was just fun. I don't know, like, in my case is not competitive. I feel like I'm always learning and I hope one day like, I mean, I want him to be i my band and move here but..

Alecsai Allen 7:52
Check out phony Santos music and the talent show he just released.

McKenzie VanOss 7:57
He's very, like, indie out there.

Alecsai Allen 8:00

McKenzie VanOss 8:01
It's amazing. Like, I love that.

Alecsai Allen 8:04
So what is like the ultimate goal for you as maybe not just like a musician, and a singer, songwriter? But also like, if you want to venture more into the producer aspect of the industry? Like what what are your goals like this?

McKenzie VanOss 8:20
I mean, honestly, like, I want to see, I know that life is just gonna take me on this like path, and I'm not even gonna see it coming. So but like, right now. I just want to, at some point, create, like a concert. And, or, like a visual experience of combining like, everything that I am. So like, dance, ballet, the music stuff, I want to get really I want to get a lot better at, you know, like playing instruments. I mean, I was classically trained in piano and stuff. So I always will have that background. And I took guitar and I took drums. So I always will have that background. But I just want to, like, there's so much to learn. And I just want to get this album out. I have like 14 songs on this album. And like, it's taking longer than you expect.

Alecsai Allen 9:21

McKenzie VanOss 9:21

Alecsai Allen 9:22
you want to be perfect.

McKenzie VanOss 9:24
You know, like, I want to do it right? And not just like, you know, get it out there. So, and then like, create a show with it with everything and just make people happy. Do have fun. Just be true to yourself. And like inspire other people to be true to themselves. That's what I want.

Alecsai Allen 9:48
That's awesome.

McKenzie VanOss 9:49
Wherever it takes me.

Alecsai Allen 9:50
So do you feel like as a woman in the music industry, or in the dance industry that you were like marginalized?

McKenzie VanOss 9:59
Honestly dance no, not really. But so I never really experienced it until I went into like the music scene and I started this song. I were off for the ballet for like, summer. It's like a school year. And it's like a season.

Alecsai Allen 10:15

McKenzie VanOss 10:15
I was just released at the end of May.

Alecsai Allen 10:17
like a semester kind of type thing?

McKenzie VanOss 10:18
Yeah, kind of like that. So, like, I dedicated my summer to music just to focus and like grind and like, see how much I could do. And then, you know, networking, like trying to meet people and all this stuff. And like, that's kind of where I'm like, realize, like, maybe the community here, but maybe I'm not meeting the right people. But like we all musicians can be a certain way. And like, there's some great ones, don't get me wrong and work with them and stick with them. And then there are some where I'm just like, you are not treating me with the respect like I deserve as an artist. And as a woman, I cannot talk to your fellow male colleagues as well. Especially when like, I'm writing all the songs and writing what you're playing, you know, that stuff. I was like, so now I know talking about I was blessed. I was very blessed. And now I'm like, okay, and also like, I hate to think about it, but like, beauty isn't forever. And I'm I am 25. Like, I'm not even that old. But I'm like, I better hurry it up. Or else. I'm not if like I'm old,

Alecsai Allen 11:38
but like if you don't look a certain way.

McKenzie VanOss 11:40
And I don't want to think that way, but it's like, but it's reality, like, how would that affect my music? Exactly?

Alecsai Allen 11:45

McKenzie VanOss 11:45
like, I won't be able to dance. My body can't last, you know, and even just like, no one's going to watch me. So it's like, kind of messed up that we have to think like that. And like they really don't. And then you have men that are like, oh, they'll watch your videos, because you're a pretty girl. And it's like, Yeah, but you know, there's a lot of give and take.

Alecsai Allen 12:11

McKenzie VanOss 12:11
and it's also like, that's not my, like agenda. Like, that's my

Alecsai Allen 12:15

McKenzie VanOss 12:15
that's not like, I don't want them to watch me because I'm a pretty face. That's another thing. You know. It's like, it's not what I'm about.

Alecsai Allen 12:23
Yeah, I guess we haven't really talked about how you would describe your brand.

McKenzie VanOss 12:29

Alecsai Allen 12:29
Because there's like, there's a difference between like how people perceive you and how you may perceive yourself and how you want them to perceive you.

McKenzie VanOss 12:36
I think it's important for you to be like, this is what I stand for. And what I support, and this is who I am. It's funny, because like when I first started, I guess two summers ago. I was in I was like, I want to, you know, produce this. I had my brother on hand. I was like, How convenient is that? But I wanted to like I didn't really know my sound. So we were I was just messing around with like, how things could sound. I've never been in a place where I can make it sound the way I want it. And yeah, so I didn't know what was out there. And then as I guess two years later, here we are. And I realized I wanted to start a band. And then I realized I actually want to be like, indie rock, maybe rock pop. That's who I am. I grew up with like rock and roll. But I also like the pop aspect of things. And I mean, I don't really know, but I like electric guitar. I like hard drums. I like tangible instruments. Nothing looks like backing tracks or anything. I think as a society we're getting away from you know, reality, obviously and I kind of wanted to bring it I think people crave authenticity and not perfection and realness rawness and build instruments, you know, I'm not pretending to be perfect, like, I'm not going to be perfect. And I think that's one thing on my brand, and then also just had a logo made so that

Alecsai Allen 14:06
Oh awesome.

McKenzie VanOss 14:08
Yeah, just like the indie rock. I want to leave it open ended in the sense I don't want to box myself in. But I stand for the authenticity, realness, rock and roll like, freedom of expression, just like be who you are. Like, who cares? Yeah. It might be a wild ride for me. Maybe for you too, um, I want it to be kind of classy, but like not like ballet, which is it seems like an elitist form of art. I don't know. And include diversity. Love, is love.

Alecsai Allen 14:53
McKenzie's music is love. It is my heart the whole concept of like Who cares? Like it's a great concept. And I feel like people may say it's cliche, and people may say it's whatever. But when it comes down to it as a society, we care way too much about way too many things.

McKenzie VanOss 15:11
And honestly, I the fact that you're figuring this out at 20, like, I did not figure it out until quarantine. And I was like, Who cares? Why am I giving power to people that like, don't deserve power over me? Or like, I'm in control of myself? I don't need anyone else to control how I feel. That is so messed up the fact that you're figuring it out now I'm like yes, girl. Alecsai that, like figuring out I'm like, dang, I missed out on a lot.

Alecsai Allen 15:43
I also wanted to ask like, what do you think your biggest setback has been thus far, either like in ballet or with your music

McKenzie VanOss 15:52
myself, always

Alecsai Allen 15:54
like mindset?

McKenzie VanOss 15:55
Just like, especially ballet I get in my head. I love ballet so much like I think about it and I literally get emotional. Because I love I've dedicated my whole life to it doing the same class, every single day, multiple times a day. Just the pain, everything. Just me being like, Oh, no, I'm so bad. Every single day, it's a battle going into the studio. Because ballet also is this art form where you have to hate yourself. You have to look in the mirror and hate everything you see. And then you have to fix it.

Alecsai Allen 16:25

McKenzie VanOss 16:26
And so like, and nothing's perfect. And not barely, I always feel like no one even likes my dancing. I'm like, Okay, stop. Stop that. You know, like, just do you work hard and enjoy what you do. And people say legends and fun. But clearly I got promoted. So I feel like it's always the exhaustion of just like, trying to clip that. away. Yeah. And just be like, love thyself.

Alecsai Allen 16:58
It's like, being your biggest critic is great.

McKenzie VanOss 17:01
It's great.

Alecsai Allen 17:01
But it sucks.

McKenzie VanOss 17:02
But it's, there's got to be a balance. And I think I'm hearing that music is easier, because I have less knowledge of what's going on, because I'm so afraid. But um, yeah, the more I know about music, though, the more I am like, oh, the less I know about music. It's fun. Because I'm in charge. And like, it's kind of my freedom from ballet a little bit.

Alecsai Allen 17:29
Earlier, you mentioned your brother as being a huge influence in your music career. Who else has influenced your style and passion for the arts?

McKenzie VanOss 17:37
My mom. Yeah, she's just like, I didn't realize and now I'm like, she is a boss. She is the boss. She has style. She has class. She is such a hard worker. And just like, doesn't put up with anything, and just dominates her industry, her field. So uh, I just want to give her everything. And then my dad is like, also, an inspiration and influence. Like, he's like, one of those people that he is just going to, like, stand by me. And just let me do my thing. And like, just be so supportive, like and genuinely mean to, I see it in his eyes, like makes me cry. I'm like, this is I'm so lucky. You know, a lot of people's parents don't get that support when their kids are artists. And I'm like, I didn't go to college. You know, I never felt like that was the way for me. And the fact that they were that they are okay with that and believe in like, I want to do that for someone else. You know, because that feeling that you always have someone that's going to have your back for you. It's just, there's those are the things that matter. You know.

Alecsai Allen 19:00
Yeah. We love supportive parents around here. They literally make the world go round and make my walk around.

McKenzie VanOss 19:09
I will be someone supporting parent.

Alecsai Allen 19:11
In the beginning and I guess she shouted out your new your album. My question is, do you have any exciting plans in the works for our listeners that they should know about? Or any advice that you might want to give other artists of any genre who maybe are struggling find the faith in themselves that they can do it?

McKenzie VanOss 19:32
My advice, do the artists way? Do it. Do the whole thing. I my oldest brother told me to do it. And so shout out to Matthew that changed my life. So Matthew technically changed my life. Let's just acknowledge that right now. But it gives you the it makes you acknowledge your past and like the people that have made you feel it If you weren't good enough, and it makes you realize like those, those people that doesn't matter, and like, it makes you face your inner artists and like, give it a hug, and nurture it, and like, appreciate it, and your place in the world as a creative and it's it gives you confidence. Like I needed confidence more than anything. And it just gave me like, the strength and courage to just, like, accept who I am and my place in the world. And once you realize your place in the world, it's like, things don't matter as much. You know, I like dyed my hair, chopped it off. I was like, got a new guitar like nothing. I highly recommend that Yeah, but also shout out to my single coming out stereo to heaven, not a definitive

Alecsai Allen 20:55
Oh, no definitive date yet?

McKenzie VanOss 20:56
Yeah, date yet, but um, end of October, it should be coming out. It's like, almost done. We are just like, it's like, the more you do, the more there is to do.

Alecsai Allen 20:56
Yeah, you like keep critiquing it.

McKenzie VanOss 21:08

Alecsai Allen 21:08
gotta fix it.

McKenzie VanOss 21:09
But it's lit. It's a play on stereo, or Stairway to Heaven. Okay, a little bit like, just acknowledging my rock and roll roots kind of thing. And it's funny because the rest of my songs aren't really like this hard. It hits. It's just it's like, about I'm just thanking the angel of music for like, giving me this like get because music is so special because you never feel alone. And that's the beauty of music. Like, as a listener. That's how I felt like oh, I'm not alone.

Alecsai Allen 21:45
Yeah, like this artist feels like I do.

McKenzie VanOss 21:47
Yeah. Like you have a friend but like you never met kind of thing.

Alecsai Allen 21:50

McKenzie VanOss 21:51
And then other people feel the same way. It's just like, it's just thanking music for being there for me, basically, but in a hard rock way.

Alecsai Allen 22:04
Thank you for joining me on the podcast.

McKenzie VanOss 22:06
Thank you reaching out to me like three days ago.

Alecsai Allen 22:20
Today's music was turtleneck by track tribe brought to you via the YouTube Audio Library. You can tune into Eye on the Triangle every Sunday at 6pm here on WKNC 88.1 FM HD one, or you can listen to podcast episodes@wknc.org slash podcasts. Thank you for listening and allowing me to be your host today. Reporting for Eye on the Triangle. This is Alecsai Allen.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

EOT 334-McKenzie Van Oss
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