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Mandy McMillan’s “Dream Catcher”— Act on Your Ambitions

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Born in Edmonton, Alberta and raised in nearby Stony Plain, Mandy McMillan has never known a moment when performing wasn’t her destined path and or when musical storytelling wasn’t her chosen language. With a diverse musical personality that organically mixes a country core with a contagious pop energy, McMillan’s open heart and love for people lights up her lyrics and live shows, allowing her to effortlessly form lasting connections with fans on stage or off.

At age five, you started performing at Christmas concerts with your younger siblings. Which songs are family favorites?

Yes! This is where my love for music started. :)

Growing up, my mom was a huge fan of the “Boney M Christmas” album. We wore that album out and they were all favorites of ours, but the one that stands out the most that we love to sing to is “Wish You a Merry Christmas”. Just typing this out makes me want to put on the album and dance!

Read that winning a CMT Canada Karaoke Star contest in 2008 led you to move to Nashville. What was the hardest part of that decision?

The hardest part would be that I left my family, which includes my two younger sisters. We all grew up so close and it was hard to watch them grow up from afar but we got in some pretty amazing family vacations in Nashville together and I will always treasure those memories!

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You wrote that happiness is a destination in your heart. What part does music play in you reaching that destination?

Music is the journey AND the destination, in my eyes. How beautiful is it that we can write, record and perform music to heal ourselves? By doing that, we are sending out healing vibrations to those around us! I truly believe that with my passion for music, it doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with. As long as I am fully able to express my creativity and truth to its fullest potential, then I’ll be forever happy.

You said that “Dream Catcher” defines your sound and your life — how so?

Writing and recording “Dream Catcher” was such an incredible “Aha” moment for me! I feel like all along, I have wanted my music to bring hope and light to those around me. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to express without sounding too “preachy”. Realizing that I am out here not just chasing my dream but needing to catch it to bring it to fruition just made me so incredibly happy. This isn’t just a branding tool — this is the way I am. When I’m feeling down or out, I remind myself of what I’ve learned — that as long as I keep pushing forward, I am that much closer to catching my ultimate dream with music. I want everyone who hears this song to realize that they can fully catch their own dreams as well.

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Which connections does your family have with Native American culture?

We recently discovered that our great-great grandmother was Native American. We still have a lot of research to do and I am so excited to explore this newfound piece of our history even further! I have always felt so drawn in to the Indigenous community and I can remember learning how to sew medicine pouches and do the beautiful beading on them to making my first dream catcher in third grade. It led me to fall in love with the beauty and spirituality that the culture had to offer.

Now knowing that our family lineage includes a Native American bloodline, it makes so much sense to me how my ancestral background influenced my song “Dream Catcher”. I fully believe that my great-great grandmother was whispering to me to unlock her story. Even writing the bridge was magical! I was in a morning meditation when all of a sudden the words for the bridge just poured out. I had to open my eyes and write down what was coming to me, and even as some people told me they weren’t a fan of the “rappy” bridge, I knew it had to stay because it came from above.

Your new single is the title track of your upcoming album. Did you compile the album around the same theme as “Dream Catcher”?

The completed album has 7 fully-produced tracks and I told my producer Simon Gugala that I just wanted each song to speak truthfully and authentically and sound unique in its own way. None of the songs sound the same. “Dream Catcher” is the most outright “inspiring song” but a few of the others hold messages of strength, forgiveness and — for the most part — just having fun!

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The new single is your Canadian radio debut. How will you be promoting the new music within the limitations of social distancing?

We have been really focusing on music blogs and social media live stream shows for promoting. It’s definitely a tricky time with releasing new music, especially as an independent artist who is new to radio. The strategies that we have discussed for the past year were basically thrown out and we had to rethink our ideas.

My publicist and I came up with a great idea of showcasing “30 Days of Dream Catchers” which had me writing up blog posts about how my friends were shining out there and catching their dreams and posting them to my blog on my website and on Instagram stories. I love boasting about my amazing friends so this was a super fun idea. I also wanted this song to be about more than just me, so the blog posts lifted that idea up.

What message do you hope fans talk away after listening to the Dream Catcher podcasts you host with Carli Kahl?

Carli and I started the podcast to be able to inspire those around us and we joke all the time of how it has flipped and we are the ones being inspired constantly. Most times after doing an interview, Carli and I just stare at each other in awe and then go on and on about how we’re so inspired and could run a lap around the block! It’s been amazing to chat with people from all over the world, with all sorts of dreams and desires and to give people a voice to tell their story. The most rewarding feeling is reading the emails and messages that random people send us after stumbling upon our podcast. It really makes all of the hard work we’ve put into it absolutely worth it!

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Back home in Alberta, can you share your favorite summer vegan recipes?

Ahhh yes! One of my favorite summer dishes is a salad that my best friend started making for me when I first went vegan. Still one of my favorites to this day

1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can whole kernel sweet corn (drained & rinsed)
1 large tomato (diced)
1 avocado (diced)

(as extra you can add diced cucumber, chickpeas, watermelon, vegan feta etc)

1 lime (juiced)
cilantro (chopped)
dash of seasoning salt

Mix all up in large bowl and you have the easiest, fresh salad for the summer!

Besides being mindful in personal food choices, what other ways can fans practice self love?

I am a huge lover of yoga, meditation, hiking and spending lots of time outdoors. I feel that the more we connect with the Earth and Mother Nature, the more we can connect with ourselves. I also think it’s super important to allow ourselves time to work on crafts, paint and just genuinely be creative. Journaling is also a fab tool as well!

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📸 Credit: Bethany Grace

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