Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s music journalism program, our music writers are profiling other team members, asking about how they got into music and what they see themselves doing in the future. You can read all the profiles here.
Mackenzie Dineen embodied the punk rock spirit long before she was even allowed to listen to the music.
“I wasn’t allowed to really listen to any music that my parents didn’t listen to, and they would always listen to country, and I went along with it because it was the only music I knew, and I was just excited about music.”
But after hearing Evanescence and Fall Out Boy on the car radio during middle school, she began to depart from the James Taylor songs her father used to sing her to sleep with. She started memorizing the lyrics to songs like “Bring Me to Life” and “Thnks fr th mmrs,” then would sneak onto her laptop and look up the songs later.
From there, she became a fan of all that is pop punk, emo, and metal — in other words, everything her parents did not want her listening to.
So how did she hide this from them?
“I would rename all the songs that I downloaded as country songs, so my father would always threaten to check my mp3 player, but he never found out.”
She kept this secret from them for a while, but after a few years became less secretive about her interests, which cumulated in her begging her parents for two months to enter their credit card information, so she could buy a ticket to a Black Veil Brides concert when she was sixteen (much to their passive disapproval).
While in high school, Dineen continued this passion by buying a copy of the Motionless in White edition of Alternative Press at the Barnes & Noble across the street from where she worked.
“I kept it in my tiny locker and took it everywhere with me and I started a subscription there and that’s kind of how I figured out I wanted to do music journalism.”
This spearheaded going after a degree in writing, which she is now almost done studying at her university. She plans to roll out a music blog, Band Over Fist, soon. You can see her College Media Network pieces here.
Dineen is also a musician herself, beginning with singing in church choirs as a child, as well as taking piano lessons when she was twelve. She has since departed from the church choir scene, learning the ropes of unclean vocal styles in various music projects at her college, largely influenced by Amy Lee, Marilyn Manson, Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills, and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance.
“I’m a very theatrical performer and I love finding artists who put on good shows from both audio and visual standpoints,” she says.
She has also picked up the bass, which she was inspired to do from watching Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. After college, she hopes to move to Portland, Oregon with her partner and start a band (but don’t tell her parents that).
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.