Today, March 19th, Los Angeles-based, Oklahoma-born independent singer and songwriter, Mckenzie Ellis (known to fans as Mothica, released her latest EP, titled forever fifteen, in celebration of ten years of survival as a warrior against addiction and mental health struggles. Centered around mental health and body positivity, this album is real and packed to the brim with emotion.
Starting off with the album’s title single, “forever fifteen,” shares Mothica’s journey ten years after attempting suicide. Not only is she real about sharing her story, the track becomes another chapter in her music journey that shows her growth from her past. Starting off the track, an electric guitar harmonizes with her crisp vocals and sharp visuals of her journey through self-destruction, addiction, alcoholism, and ultimately her attempt to end her life when she was only fifteen years old.
I was assaulted by my youth pastor when I was thirteen. And after that, I became incredibly self-destructive– drinking and doing dr*gs, and being around older men that would buy me alcohol, which is what that [he said, ‘love that you’re fifteen’/ten shots of whiskey/he brought to my bedside/said ‘now you’ll be all right’] song lyric is about. My first experiences with men were not consensual, and I didn’t feel like I should be alive anymore. I really hurt myself. I kept drinking and doing dr*gs for the next ten years. Now, I’ve been sober for like a year and a half, and I get to share this story.
The lyrics are simple and plosive, hitting listeners right in the gut with emotion. Just as it conveys her journey, “forever fifteen,” is incredibly relatable to many people who are struggling with feelings of isolation and depression; those who in their darkest moments feel like they won’t be missed should they disappear from the world.
“Ever wanted to turn abusers into a Bloody Mary?” Mothica commented on social media. The next track, “buzzkill,” comments on the resentment and trauma following situations of assault an abuse. Coated in reds and magenta hues, this track is heavy with a message written against the pedophile that assaulted her when she was young. The song discusses revenge against the experience that changed who she once was and stole her away from a life free from trauma. “buzzkill” breaks down how at first the experience kept her quiet, but she has been liberated and won’t be silenced or keep quiet any longer.
Up next, “funhouse” (featuring Kaylee Morgue), shares eating disorder and its form of self-destruction. Shedding a harsh light on body dysmorphia and its impact on the culture we live in, Mothica shamelessly shares her story further. “I got sober, but I still had this little secret, one final way to hurt me.” After picking up a habit of binging and purging, she still didn’t feel freed from the shame and self-harm and hatred as she fought battle after battle to be freed from her inner demons. Joining her in this track, Kaylee Morgue is featured in the harmonies and the second verse. The mirror can be deceiving to someone who doesn’t believe what they see when they look upon it. “What I see isn’t me/it’s distorted,” they sing in the bridge as strings harmonize with the a carnival pop beat.
Beginning with simple electric guitar strums to set the tempo, “motions,” feels much more stripped in comparison to the previous tracks until the electronic drum beat is filtered in. Running along in its consistent beat, the track overall feels like falling into routine, following a motion to keep pushing along as the lyrics take the front stage. Mothica’s voice is showcased with its ethereal melody, especially in each verse and pre-chorus.
Next, “intuition” highlights Mothica’s higher register in each verse with a fun hook in the chorus worthy of sticking in the head. Depicting that gut feeling and the red flags found in a new relationship or situation, then not following the intuitions and facing regret, the song is simple melodically, but rings true and relatable for anyone who would listen. The melancholic undertones pang in the gut with feelings of regret, but refuses to self-deprecate. The lighthearted melody of the track becomes a gentle, “I told you so,” and urges its audience to trust their gut and follow through, no matter how much pressure is put on them.
Concluding the album, “upside,” brings to life the inner demons voicing their opinions in the head, and turns it upside down with positive thoughts and reinforcement. “I’m already dead on the inside/no one can hurt me now,” Mothica sings in the chorus. Because she hit her rock bottom, on the upside, there is nowhere to go from there but up and outward as she grows from her past. The song is a beautifully positive note; without abandoning its past, it presses onward and looks forward to a better future.
As a whole, forever fifteen may be short, but its sweet undertones offer a light of hope and relatability Mothica has become known for over the last couple of years since her rise into TikTok and viral fame.
The album is now available on all streaming platforms. Listen now: