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20 Questions With Mandy McMillan

The singer-songwriter on vegan jokes, serenity & her secret love of Nickelback.

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Photo by Bethany Loates.

A couple of weeks ago, Mandy McMillan was kind enough to share her latest video Dream Catcher with me. Today, the Alberta-bred, Nashville-based singer-songwriter goes the extra mile by subjecting herself to my silly questions. Read what she has to say below — then head over to her Facebook and Instagram to catch her virtual release show today (Monday, July 13) at 6 p.m. MT with fellow Alberta artists Mariya Stokes, Ben Chase, and Olivia Rose.

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and other details you’d like to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
Hello! I am Mandy McMillan. I just celebrated my 6th annual 26th Birthday at the end of June. Home base is currently between Stony Plain, Alta., and Nashville, Tenn. I am 5’4″ and last time I weighed myself, I was 120 lbs, so let’s roll with that. I’m also a Cancer/ Gemini cusp.

What is your musical origin story?
Ever since I was little, I have loved everything musical and creative. I don’t have any family members who do music, so I’m kind of a random soul plunked into a family of coal miners, dental assistants and secretaries. My mom loves to tell the story of how I could hum before I could talk and she would always catch me singing in my car seat as a child. All these years later, I’m still singing in the car but now I’m in the driver’s seat.

What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
My latest project is the release of my new single and music video, Dream Catcher, which I am so, so excited about! I spent 2019 in the studio recording my new album full of songs that I’ve written over the past 6 years in Nashville. Songs that fully encompass “Mandy” as a whole. Some pop, some country, classic rock and a little bit of a beach vibe in there as well! You will be able to hear it this fall.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I think what truly sets me apart from other artists is my genuine ability to connect with those around me. I’m not here to put on a fake show.The Mandy you hear in my songs and that you see performing on stage (most likely doing the robot) is who I am a 100%.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
With Dream Catcher you will be inspired to believe in yourself and to go out and catch your own wildest dreams. My songs are a collection of tunes that will make you love, want to dance, have a good time. On a deeper level, they will allow you to forgive yourself, let go of the past, live on your own terms, and look forward to brighter days ahead.

What album / song / artist / show changed your life?
Recently it has been the artist Nahko and Medicine for the People. His song Black as Night has given me so much hope and inspiration for my future music, especially in terms of how I want my music to speak to people. I’ve watched a few of his videos on YouTube where he interviews other inspirational artists and it’s just beautiful.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
First song I wrote was when I was 8 years old and I ripped off the melody of the Care Bears theme song while changing the hook to “He is a lovebird” — haha! I can still remember performing it for my sisters and friends on a little white karaoke machine and microphone. First gig I played in Nashville was a cover show at a place where my friend and I sang for tips. I still have the first U.S. dollar I made in my collections box.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
The best performance was when I got to be on stage with Kenny Chesney to perform at the 2014 CMA Awards! Such an incredible night that I will never forget!

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
Do I dare say Mariah Carey trying to sing All I want for Christmas is You on the Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve stage? I’m still sending her light and love because my gosh, it was the strangest thing.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I want to be performing at festivals around the world, surrounded by thousands of fans singing along to my music! I genuinely want to be living my truth and the most genuine life of happiness that I could hope for.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
I would LOVE to sing Sara with Stevie Nicks! I learned a lot of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac songs for a tribute show and that song just stands out so much to me.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Nickelback! They’re one of my dad’s favourite bands and one of my best friends was their audio engineer for a few years, so let’s just say that I’ve been to more than my fare share of Nickelback concerts.

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I am listening to a lot of pop and R&B lately, so the list would include Khalid, Surfaces, The Weeknd and definitely Nahko and Medicine for the People.

How about some other favourites? Authors / movies / painters / philanthropists / you name it.
I love reading self-guidance books about spirituality and being the best version of yourself. Right now, my favourites would have to be You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Who would you be (or have you been) starstruck to meet?
I don’t get starstruck too often, but I did run into Lorrie Morgan one time at a show in Nashville and I stumbled so much that I ended up telling her she was beautiful and then walked away embarrassed.

Tell us a joke.
How do you know someone is vegan? Don’t worry — they would’ve already told you a 100 times by now. (I can joke about it because I am one!)

What do you drive and why? What do you want to drive and why?
At the moment, I drive a Jeep Patriot. I absolutely love Jeeps and wrote a song about my Jeep adventures recently.

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
My superpower would be the power to heal. I just want everyone to live the most peaceful and abundant life possible.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
Can I say my ability (or lack of ability) to do the robot? I love dancing, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not very good at it!

What do you collect?
I collect stones, crystals and gems. I still have a quartz crystal that I bought when I was 8 years old and have carried it around with me everywhere!

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
I would be the one bringing the vegan macaroni salad! I just found a recipe for this the other day and it is delish.

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
TikTok. I want to understand it but it seems far too complicated for this ol’ lady!

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
I have a seven-year-old Chihuahua named Lucy Goose. She is my whole heart and has been my sidekick in Nashville for the past six years! My sister rescued her when she was just a few weeks old and it was destiny that she ended up with me.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
If I could have another job, I would probably go back to hairstyling and makeup. I owned a hair salon right before I made the big move to Nashville years ago and I miss the elements of working with a bunch of badass women and getting to make people feel beautiful every day.

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
Best advice always comes from my mom. Her favorite quote is the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Watch Dream Catcher above, listen to more of Mandy McMillan’s music below, and keep up with her via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.