Photo: Eiza Murphy

kenzie

Mackenzie Frances Ziegler, now professionally known as kenzie, is well over a decade into her career – and yet, she’s still only a teenager. The 19-year-old first rose to fame when she was 7 years old on the hit television show Dance Moms and has proven since that her list of occupations are never-ending. For that reason, many people’s introduction to kenzie, however, will vary. Whether you’re familiar with her work in dance, music, modeling, or even YouTube, one thing everyone can agree on is that she has successfully catered to her Gen-Z audience and built quite the empire for herself. 

Despite her many roles over the course of 13 years, kenzie is prioritizing music more than ever. “I always wanted to be a pop star,” she tells EUPHORIA. “I grew up loving Hannah Montana and High School Musical. My mom put me in vocal lessons when I was 6 because she was like, ‘You need to stop singing around the house. You need to do it elsewhere.’” 

kenzie first began releasing music at the tender age of 9. That said, she didn’t come to realize that she wanted to pursue singing full-time until she was 14. “I think that was when I began writing my own music in my bedroom. I got really into it and started really listening to the music that I was playing in my headphones. I’m so happy that it’s my full-time career now. This is a dream of mine,” she says. Admittedly, kenzie says the transition from being an internet personality to a well-respected musician has come with its struggles. “It has been hard for people to realize that I’m an adult now and that I have one main focus, so sometimes people don’t take me as seriously, which is totally fine,” she says. “It has been hard, but I’m so happy with the fans that have stuck with me and realized that I’m growing up.” 

It’s been a minute since kenzie released a full body of work. To be precise, it’s been nearly six whole years. That said, the past couple of years have seen her experiment with many singles that have been nicely leading up to creating her own brand of original sad-girl pop music, a genre in which Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, and Tate McRae have all been topping the charts with. The latest addition to her collection of emo anthems is “word vomit,” a song about a shitty boyfriend who betrayed her. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, kenzie is happy with the response so far. “I feel like all the feedback has been so awesome. My fans really ride for me, so it’s very sweet, and they’ve been giving me such great messages,” she says. Writing the track exclusively with three female songwriters also had its benefits during the creative process. “From a girl’s perspective, it’s so much easier,” she says. “We literally walked into a room and I ranted about it for like 2 and a half hours. Lots of crying was happening, and then there was a song.”

Touching on vulnerable topics is a common theme in kenzie’s recent material. Her ballad “anatomy,” released last summer, tells the story of her estranged relationship with her father growing up. Despite the heavy topic, she reveals it was the fastest song she’s ever written. “I think the writers had a lot to do with it because I was a wreck while I was writing the song,” kenzie explains. “This was the first time I opened up about my dad with them ever. I definitely think writing music is a form of therapy. It’s so nice to get all of my thoughts out, but I do get really nervous releasing such honest songs because you never know how the other person’s gonna react. All my songs are based on true stories, which is terrifying.”

An album is expected to follow in the upcoming months. This summer, to be exact. While kenzie has been making her mark with emotions-fueled tunes, she assures listeners there will also be some lighter-hearted numbers included. “There are some happy breakup songs,” she reveals. While making the album, kenzie admits that writing lyrics that come from a happier place didn’t come to her as easily as she would have liked. “When I try to write a love song, I think I just put more pressure on myself because it’s it needs to be perfect and also not cheesy. I feel like we’ve heard so many love songs, so it’s so much easier to write sad songs, especially when it’s like a situation I’ve been in that other people in the room can relate to,” she says.

Above all, she’s just excited for the album to be released. “I’ve just been working on it for so long, I’ll be so glad for it to be out,” kenzie says. “I hope everyone can relate to a song on there. I want them to listen to the record and not be afraid to speak their mind. I think that’s really what I want people to take away from it.”