Mallory Johnson fills us in on “f*ck that” and her ‘less sparkly’ new era

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Credit: Tabitha Turner

Towards the end of 2022, Canadian songwriter and country artist Mallory Johnson released her debut album, Surprise Party, which demonstrated how life can be equal parts sweet and sour – much like a surprise party. In the end, each moment that comes your way contains value, whether you are ready for these moments or not. After its release, Surprise Party went up to #2 on the iTunes country charts and exceeded 100K streams in just a few weeks, showing that Mallory’s fans were definitely ready for these songs and the moments she shares in them. Aside from the fans, critics from the likes of People and the Toronto Star praised the album, their words helping to secure the project for nominations at the 2023 CCMAs for Alternative Country Album of the Year and Innovative Campaign of the Year. In the midst of all the hype, however, Mallory began to change the way she approached her art, leaning into the experimental and more uncomfortable aspects of the creative process. By doing so, she has tapped into a daring new era of her career that finds her being more confident. She recently kicked off this new chapter with “f*ck that,” a stirring anthem about letting go and living by your own rules. We were able to catch up with Mallory to go over the new single and what this next chapter will bring.

 

Hi, Mallory! It’s great to talk with you again. The last time we spoke was at the beginning of 2023, a few months after you released Surprise Party. How have you been?

Hi! Thanks for having me 🙂 I’ve been busy! I feel like I was already writing for the next project before we released Surprise Party, so it’s been fun to dive more into the planning and production for the new stuff in addition to touring the last record.

 

Now that Surprise Party has been out in the world for over a year, has it impacted your life in areas you didn’t expect, or has it changed your life in any way?
Surprise Party definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways. It brought many firsts: CCMA artist award nominations, editorial playlist covers, and performance slots at some bucket list festivals. It was also a season of change for me and my team. It’s been a lot of fun to celebrate that musical chapter and I look forward to the next!

 

At the time, you said “Married” was your favorite song to play live, “Not Your Heart” was your favorite in terms of production, and “Surprise Party” was your favorite way to close a show. Has this changed at all?
I think favorites rotate. I love playing new music because it’s fresh and fun to test out on fans. At least that’s how I feel about my new song! That being said, “Married” is still a front-runner for a live show because I love to showcase my sense of humor. My bandmates also have a cool moment to shine in that song, so it’s fun to let them take center stage and shred. If we’re talking production, “Not Your Heart” is still my favorite on Surprise Party, and it’s hard to top “Surprise Party” as a closing song.


You also mentioned that it can take anywhere from two hours to years to finish a song, so how long did it take to create “f*ck that”?
“f*ck that” was a tricky one, as the subject matter has a lot of layers. I wanted each line to be very intentional. It took Brian [Donkers, songwriter] and I three sessions to get it right. The f bomb was actually a space-filler for the first few sessions. I knew I wanted the hook to be powerful, but wasn’t sure how to express it without actually saying “f*ck that.” Everything we tried to replace it with just sounded cheesy, so we rolled with it and I’m so happy we did.

Credit: Tabitha Turner

“f*ck that” is a little darker and it begins a bigger transition into your next “era.” Why kick things off with this song in particular?

Why not? I wanted to rip the band aid off and introduce the new project with a song that would set the tone of what’s to come. I’m not saying that the new era is all dark and dreary, but it’s definitely more uncomfortably honest and less ‘sparkly’ than Surprise Party. “f*ck that” is a bold song, so why not make it a bold move?


I love how it’s still an intense song, even though it’s not loud or overtly elaborate in terms of sound and production. Was this how you pictured the song to sound all along?

I honestly had NO idea where to go with production, which is why it was so important for me to find the right producer. I knew the lane I wanted to live in, but didn’t really care about a specific genre. I wanted a teammate who could push me creatively, and Andrew Petroff was the perfect fit. He’s been an incredible collaborative partner and exactly what the song needed. He understood that it was important for me to give the lyrics space to shine but also build power and intensity. You could say he understood the assignment! Hah!


I read that this song came from a place of “defeat and disappointment.” Is it hard to listen back to it, or does it feel like you have closure now when you hear it?

Listening back to the song is more healing for me. Putting my emotions on paper helped me release them, and now I look forward to listening to it and playing it live.


I know this is probably a little tricky, but if you could use one word to describe “f*ck that,” what would it be?
To echo what I said above: bold.

Credit: Tabitha Turner

What can fans expect from you next?

A pile of new music! I think there will be some surprising shifts in sound, but at the core of the new music, it’s still my voice and my writing, so there will be some parallels to my previous album.


What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter of your career?

I’m looking forward to finishing up the new album and hitting the road. I just want to keep the momentum going and do what I love 🙂


The summer is right around the corner, so do you have any plans – musically or non-musically?  

I do! In addition to spending some time in the studio, I’m playing some folk festivals in Canada and Scotland this summer!


Thank you again for your time, Mallory. Is there anything else you would like to share or add?
Thanks for having me and spending the time to chat about the new music! My debut single “f*ck that,” off my upcoming sophomore project, is available everywhere May 3rd.

Credit: Tabitha Turner

You can listen to Mallory’s new single, “f*ck that,” on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

 

Keep up with Mallory Johnson: Instagram // Facebook // X // TikTok // YouTube // Website

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