Tone Tips

Illustrated and Explained: Torres on Crafting “Emotional Realms” with Pedals

Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott shows us how to conjure decidedly otherworldy tones with her pedalboard.

  • By TR Staff @tonereport
  • November 28, 2017
  • 30 Comments

On Three Futures, Brooklyn-based songwriter Torres (Mackenzie Scott) steps fearlessly into new terrain. The result—one of this year’s most daring, immersive records—is her most ambitious to date. Pivoting from the intimate, straightforward arrangements found on her self-titled debut and 2015 standout Sprinter, Scott utilizes more industrial and electronic textures to soundtrack themes of intimacy, pleasure, and using the body as a mechanism for joy.

Reconnecting with producer Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey), Three Futures highlights Scott’s capacity for using effects to further enliven her ornate guitarwork. Both live and on record, it is not uncommon for listeners to beg the question, How the hell is she making that sound? We caught up with Scott amid a worldwide tour to get to the bottom of it.

Which pedal in your setup do you rely on the most?

My Death By Audio Echo Dream is pretty integral to every song. I mostly use it for a subtle slapback effect on all the guitar solos.

How often do you re-configure your board and how do you decide pedal order?

I change it up once every few months. My board looks different every tour, but there are a few old standbys that stay put. I mostly decide the order of the chain based on trial and error. For a while I had all my overdrives at the end of the chain and because I wanted to boost the stuff at the front of the chain. Now I've got the fuzz and overdrive at the beginning of the chain to boost the moodier, more atmospheric sounds at the end of the chain.

What combination of pedals are we hearing the most on Three Futures?

Lots of POG 2—a polyphonic octave generator—combined with the Death By Audio Echo Dream combined with the EarthQuaker Afterneath, which is a really expansive ambient reverb pedal.

 

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