Taylor Mackenzie spent the first nine years of his life growing
up amidst the suburban comforts of Westchester County, New York.
During these early days little Danny was exposed to the best music
his parents’ record collection had to offer: Elvis Presley,
Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra and, of course,
Although he enjoyed torturing the family with his vivacious sonic
experimentations on the piano, Danny’s formal music training
actually began when he picked up the “recorder” at age
seven. His recorder teacher thought he was so talented on the weird
little flute that he recommended that Danny take up the clarinet,
and so it was that Mackenzie got stuck with the nerdiest of all
Danny became Dan at age nine when his parents got divorced and he
moved to West Germany with his mother, recently acquired stepfather
and two brothers. Within a year, a cutie-pie baby sister was added
to the tribe! The clarinet lessons continued, but Dan began his
secret rebellion by starting his own record collection, which soon
ranged from Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel to the B-52’s and
UB40 . After squeaking out the required half-hour practice on the
clarinet, he still loved to bang on the family piano, which eventually
led to his earliest “compositions”.
Having returned to the USA to in the mid-80’s to live with
his father and attend high school, Dan started getting into 80’s
guitar rock bands like The Smiths, R.E.M. and Echo and The Bunnymen
. Since, however, the keyboard was his only viable instrument (clarinet?
don’t think so…) he was also enthusiastically exploring
synth pioneers Thomes Dolby and Kraftwerk.
Mackenzie did “perform” at a couple of talent shows
in high school, but it was not until he matriculated at Brown University
that he set about actually putting his own band together. He soon
decided that singing was cooler than playing his cheapo keyboard,
so he elected himself lead singer and assembled a group of talented
musicians to form “The Casuals” , a hard-partying ska
band in the mold of The English Beat.
The Casuals just barely survived through freshman year, but Dan
had picked up a guitar and learned a few chords, so he spent the
remaining three years of carefree college exsistence in a power-trio
called Miklos Factor . During this time of musical budding Dan also
bought a bass and played a few gigs backing up the brilliant (and
now quite famous) Lisa Loeb , who was at the time teamed up with
Liz Mitchell (presently singing and writing with her splendiferous
band Ida ).
Upon graduation Dan transplanted himself to Los Angeles with his
new band “Onion” ( a hybrid of Miklos Factor and his
friend Dan Seiden’s band “roundband” ), and began
life in the real world, insofar as that term can actually be applied
to the Southern California region. After only two gigs, the
band was offered a record deal with Michael Douglas’ fledgling
label Thirdstone Records , but Dan broke his femur in a motorcycle
accident and things got a little messy. The band fired their managers
(translate: friends), turned down the deal, and then broke up.
Dan returned to New York after less than a year in LA to get back
together with his high school sweetheart and form a new band; “HUG”.
When the old romance found a more harmonious state as a new friendship,
Hug shrugged and Dan found himself lured back to the sunshine and
cheaper rents of Los Angeles. There he re-teamed with his original
drummer and good pal Anthony Avildsen to form another trio, but
great bands do require a certain magical chemistry, and when the
two failed to find the perfect third, Mackenzie decided to go solo.
Under the tutelage of such unwitting mentors as Joni Mitchell, Sting,
Tom Waits and his more recent favorite Ani DiFranco , Dan began
honing his chops as a solo acoustic performer and writing more lyrically
direct songs. He supported himself by acting in TV commercials and
doctoring screenplays for independent films while cutting his teeth
in such popular LA clubs as Largo, Troubador, Luna Park and Viper
At one point, Dan was offered a production deal by the wonderful
Me’shell Ndegeocello , who, though she was initially wildly
enthusiastic, ended up flaking out on him. Mackenzie was disappointed
but found great affirmation in having garnered the respect of a
musician he held in the highest regard, so he forged on. He would
occasionally put a band together and record a demo. Then, in a fit
of uncontrollable perfectionism, he would disband the band and shelve
Despite putting his career in a holding pattern, this back-to-the-old-drawing-board
helped Daniel find his voice (literally) as a singer and (figuratively)
as a songwriter. In the late nineties, he started getting work composing
soundtracks for documentaries and independent films. In 2000, Daniel
finally took the plunge and recorded his first full-length cd. His
debut cd “Shakytown” was shepherded by fBoo Music ,
an independent label and studio owned by the album’s co-producer
Keven Brennan and his wife Robin . Keven and Dan subsequently teamed
up for a good stint as soundtrack composing/producing partners.
“Shakytown” soon captured the attention of KCRW DJ Anne
Litt , who began airing a few of Mackenze’s tracks on her
popular program “Weekend Becomes Eclectic” . Dan also
had a few song featured in various TV shows, including SHO’s
“The Chris Isaak Show”, WB’s “Popular”
and FOX Family’s Higher Ground”.
In 2002 Daniel was finally able to put together his
own home studio which he dubbed “The Guest House”, because
he was, in fact, living in a guest house in the Pacific Palisades.
There he continued to generate a modest living as a freelance composer
while recording a new album. The latter cd “Good Things”
(available at www.cdbaby.com/dmackenzie )is being released in September
2003 by Universal Records in the Philippines (of all places!).
In early 2003, as Mackenzie began work on his
third album, (tentatively titled “songs to learn by heart”
) he was hired by Original Productions to write, produce and perform
a theme song for the new Discovery Channel program “MONSTER
HOUSE”. Within a week of completing the theme, Daniel was
signed on as the show’s sole composer. As the first season
winds down, Mackenzie is putting together another new album of songs
from MONSTER HOUSE to be released by Discovery/Original Productions
in time for the Holidays.
In the meantime, the show has been picked up for another season,
and Daniel is putting the final touches on his new solo album, which
will be available at cdbaby.com while it is being shopped to record
labels. Mackenzie currently resides in a tiny apartment in Beverly
Hills, and continues to perform locally at The Mint, Temple Bar,
Hotel Café and Tangier.