It's safe to say at this point, the CLEAN Team is pretty obsessed with Mothica's track, "VICES," from her newest album, Blue Hour. So obsessed that we laid it down behind our commercial for National Recovery Month. The singer born McKenzie Ellis, rose to fame on TikTok, on which she has half a million followers and digs into mental health and recovery. We caught up with the TikTok star and newest CLEAN Crew member, Mothica!
You're a huge advocate for mental health and radical vulnerability. Where did that come from?
I talk about it a lot in my music because of my personal experiences with depression, self harm, therapy, hospitalizations. I feel lighter when I’m honest about these things, and to give context of why I am the way I am. But I’m not a professional or a resource, I just think that vulnerability is important to share.You grew up in Oklahoma, tell us what it was like being a young creative in middle America. What were the biggest hurdles you faced on the early path to mature your creative output?
Well, I spent a lot of time online! In high school, I ‘researched’ artists and musicians from all over the world, and tried to build a network through MySpace and Tumblr. I moved to New York when I was 18, so I had this context of being from a place where a lot of my favorite bands didn’t tour, and I think that gave me this extra appreciation for being away from my hometown.You played Lollapalooza recently. What was it like performing in front of a crowd since quarantine?
Meeting fans was incredible, and everyone I met was so wonderful and I teared up multiple times! But for the shows, that’s a tricky question for me, because performing is really the thing I’m the most insecure about. And also, I had only played a few shows sober before quarantine, so it felt like I was starting all over again. I kind of got the hang of it for the last show, and the crowd was amazing. I just wish I could go get coffee with people that listen to my music so we could have deeper conversations.It looked like you played a smaller showcase around the festival as well & on your Instagram you referenced alternate universes that seemed to allude to your own struggles with mental health. Can you tell us more about that?
Yeah! For this huge milestone show, I wanted to give a small little speech about what it means to me. So I talked about the alternate universe where a fifteen year old me didn’t survive a suicide attempt. There’s a reality where I was fifteen forever and how much that has changed my perspective. Because even when life is hard and I’m unhappy, I’m grateful for all the bad emotions because it’s a product of surviving.Tell us how mental health & your own journey has inspired your music.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when I was 14. I was put on antidepressants, but also tried self-medicating which is what lead to about 10 years of substance addiction. When you aren’t taking care of your mental health, there’s a lot of emotions, and I wrote songs to understand my thought process. But I feel like getting sober and taking steps to have healthy responses is when my writing really flourished. And most of all, I want to redirect the narrative that you have to be broken and self destructive to make meaningful art.VICES explores issues related to substance abuse. How has recovery helped you discover yourself & new places to explore in music?
I wrote VICES in early sobriety, maybe two months of not drinking. But I was still in denial that I could give everything up, and I found myself trying to replace alcohol with video games or dating or online shopping and that’s what the song is about. Recovery is really the basis of my album Blue Hour, because it was so fresh and raw on my mind.Okay, so we have to admit, we fanned out majorly when you posted a picture with CLEAN Cause. How did you discover CLEAN Cause & what role does it play in your daily life?
I was at the Berric’s, this huge indoor skateboarding spot which also has creative offices next to it. My co-director and I were in one of the offices working on the final coloring of my music video for Intuition and the colorist had them in his office. I love yerba maté and when I turned over the can and saw the brand’s message, I excitedly sent CLEAN an email right on the spot. Match made in heaven!This National Recovery Month, CLEAN Cause is asking our network to share stories of resilience to inspire everyone to keep believing that they can prevail. What advice would you give to someone going through a tough spot right now?
Optimistic Nihilism. The most eye opening thing I’ve heard about suicide is that you will not exist for billions of years after and before your lifetime — that’s just a fact. So, why waste the tiny sliver of time you get to be here instead of making the most of it? I find comfort in that.Lastly, if VICES were an animal what would it be?
Oh my, that’s hard. Probably a caterpillar… before the metamorphosis!