Top by Vaquera. Earrings, Scott's own.

Live from New York: Torres

Last year saw a wave of pandemic albums, written and recorded in isolation, produced and promoted remotely, reflecting a range of emotions from loneliness to fury. For Torres's Mackenzie Scott, the driving impulse was one of liberation and exuberance. Her breakthrough fifth album, Thirstier, released in July, is her most open-hearted yet, shifting into a higher level and stretching in new, previously unexplored directions with a powerfully all-embracing celebration of ecstasy. Scott's new turn is a marked shift from her previous work, one she explains as a deliberate choice to offer her audience what they needed in otherwise dark times. "Obviously there's been a huge change at a cosmic scale, so I was trying to think about what I thought people would want to hear, at least from me," she elaborates. "I was thinking about what my output has been thus far and thinking about how I could do it differently to reflect the times a bit better—or not necessarily to reflect the times, but maybe to help people overcome the times."

In another departure from Scott's earlier work, Thirstier was the result of a condensed and focused period of writing and recording, something of an experiment for an artist more accustomed to what she calls the "real luxury" of an expanded creative timeline. "I was just trying to build the sounds and the lyrics at the same time and make a really streamlined process," she says. "I'm not so used to doing it like that. Normally it's like, write down lyrics for a year and then I'll sit down for six months and try and piece together sounds, but this time I was like, 'No, I'm going to try and make a fully realized body of work in a very short amount of time.'"

Now Scott is finally sharing the exhilarating output of that labor on stage again. After two months on the road last fall, including a stop at New York's Bowery Ballroom, her "favorite venue ever," she's currently playing a few more dates in the United States after heading to Europe for two packed weeks last month. "I hadn't felt the energy of a crowd, like everybody, in such a long time," she says. "I actually realized in this time that I need that even more than I thought I did, just feeling the pulse of a crowd like that, just being in one, not even necessarily being on the stage." Still, she says that even after her years of touring, there's no place like her adopted home: "New York is always great, it's one of the best places to play shows. I just like the way that people are here. There's just something about New Yorkers where they're just the best crowds."

Torres performs tomorrow at the Studio at Webster Hall, New York. Read this story and many more in print by ordering our third issue here. See the full Live in New York series here.

Hair by Tina Outen at Streeters. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Streeters. Set design by Jacob Burstein at MHS Artists. Photographer's assistant: Kyrre Kristoffersen. Stylist's assistant: Claire Sullivan. Hairstylist's assistant: Amesha Alston. Makeup artist's assistant: Crisdanil Hidalgo. Set designer's assistant: Casilda Garcia Lopez. Digital technician: Leslie Knott. Production by Heather Robbins at CLM.

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